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Next Smartphone Revolution Will Be Price

Winners and Losers:

The big winner here will be Google. Unlike Apple, its hardware partners are cycling new devices onto the news stage much faster than one per year. So cost will be cut a lot faster. Then add the likelihood that Google will launch VoIP faster than Apple, and you have a one-two punch.

That said, Apple could still be a big winner. First, Apple will still take power away from the carriers, and secondly Apple may surprise us with new hardware cycles and its own VoIP service. If it does, Apple could equal Google as the big winner in this evolution.

Microsoft: In theory, Microsoft is in the same boat as Google. The problem is that Windows Phone 8 simply isn't off the ground yet, in terms of market acceptance. Microsoft needs to close the app gap (quantity and quality) with iOS and Android. If it does this quickly, Microsoft together with Skype will also be a big winner, but so far my Windows Phone 8 device doesn't hold a candle to my Nexus, so the burden of proof is on Microsoft here.

Conclusion: One or two years from now, high-end smartphones will look mostly just like today's high-end smartphones. They'll have better battery life, but otherwise the main difference will be that instead of costing $350 to $650 unsubsidized, they will mostly be $200-$500 unsubsidized -- or less. And yes, monthly service plans will cost a lot less, because we will have free mobile VoIP and SMS from Google, Apple and Microsoft.

At the time of publication, the author was long GOOG, AAPL and QCOM.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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