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Man with Mobile phone connected to a smart watchIn today’s fast-paced tech world, we’ve become conditioned to expect the next big thing every year. The tech companies know this, and their marketing departments are skilled at using it to their advantage. But is there really a next big thing every year?

We all have problems we want to fix, needs we want to address and milestones we want to reach—and technology can seem like the solution on all counts. As a result, we’re exposed to a never-ending procession of bright, shiny objects with the latest features and functionality.

That procession of new technology, and the innovation behind it, serves our interests by making us more efficient and productive. But it’s good to recognize that most of what’s being offered is an incremental enhancement of something that came before it.

Consider the iPhone. I’ve been fascinated by its evolution over the years, and I think it illustrates an interesting point about technology, change and perception.

Game-changer
Apple unveiled its revolutionary new product in January 2007. Smartphones had been around for several years, but the iPhone’s touchscreen interface made it instantly unique. It was a big deal, and millions of us bought one within the first few weeks.

This was a true game-changing moment and product. But Apple was far from done.

Just 18 months later, the iPhone 3G burst onto the scene. It was faster, had more storage and included GPS functionality. Many of us upgraded, others jumped in for the first time, some stuck with their original iPhone, and others chose another brand. Some people dismissed smartphone technology altogether, but that group diminished over time.

Then the process repeated itself over and over.

The iPhone 3GS arrived, with a landscape keyboard. The iPhone 4 came next (Retina display! FaceTime!), followed 16 months later by the iPhone 4S (Siri!) and then the slimmer, navigation-enabled iPhone 5. A year later, the iPhone 5C and 5S came out—with useful features such as Touch ID and Air Drop, and not-so-useful ones like a motion processor. In September 2014, Apple introduced the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (Apple Pay!) and then last fall, the iPhone 6S with 3D Touch.

Distractions
Through all of these iterations, the features we use the most (phone, contacts, calendar, messaging) haven’t changed much, and they remain on our home screens. There really hasn’t been a “next big thing” in smartphone technology since 2007, though we hope for a game-changer every year. Nonetheless, we get distracted by the constant bombardment of shiny new apps, downloading them and then quickly moving on.

The point is that variations of game-changing technology will keep coming whether we need them or not. The key is knowing what you want your technology tools to do, educating yourself on your options, assembling a mix that suits you, and putting it all to work.

Focus on Relationships
Whatever it is, the next big thing in technology will never replace what’s most important in our business: personal relationships. That’s what should always remain at the center of your “home screen.” Although Apple may be on iPhone v 9.0, there will always only be relationships v 1.0.

In a relationship business, technology is an invaluable tool—but it’s not the reason you’re successful. You are.

Geoff Lewis is president of RE/MAX, LLC. For more information, visit www.remax.com.

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