There are not many cases of a 'Concorde Moment' in technological advances. Usually technology allows improvements in performance in later designs and evolution, making things 'better' on whatever criterion we want. Cars get faster, cheaper, safer, have better fuel economy etc. TVs get thinner with bigger screens with more channels and lower cost. Computers get faster, cheaper, smaller, lighter, require less electrical power to run, etc. And in aviation, airplanes used to always get faster. Early planes a hundred years ago flew at about 200 km/h. Planes by the start of World War 2 flew at about 450 km/h. By the end of the war planes were at 700 km/h. Then the new jet engines helped push planes into the 900 km/h class for most civilian airliners and some jet fighter planes started to fly at supersonic speeds by the 1950s. And by the 1960s there were several competing projects of 'SST' transports for civilian airliners, SuperSonic Transports. And we know that type of plane as the Concorde.
But the two supersonic jet airliners, Concorde and the Tupolev 144 were an anomaly in airplane design, that they pushed the advance in speed compared to their contemporary rival planes, but no other commercial jet airplanes have since been designed to even match their speed far less exceed that. Concorde flew at 2,180 km/h, more than twice the previous planes like the American jets Boeing 707, McDonnell Douglas DC 8, Europeans like Sud Aviation Caravelle and British Aircraft Corporation One-Eleven or Soviet jetliners like Ilyushin 62 or Tupolev 134. These would typically fly at a speed of about 900 km/h. Then after the Concorde and Tupolev 144 supersonic jet airliners, subsequent planes became bigger but not nearly as fast, such as the Boeing 747, DC 10, Lockeed Tristar, Airbus A300, Tupolev 154 etc. And even today the latest planes like the Airbus A580 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are still flying at speeds of about 900 km/h. Concorde only flew commercially from 1976 to 2003 (the Tupolev 144 was in operation even less time than that) so the era of supersonic commercial passenger travel only lasted for 27 years. And after the retirement of the two supersonic airliners, the speed of jet passenger travel has reduced back to what it was in the late 1950s at about 900 km/h.This has produced a 'Concorde moment' in technology evolution. A peak of tech performance that is not sustained and from which a regression follows instead. Imagine if that happened in cars, and we'd go back to slower speeds, or if it happened in TV sets and we'd go back to small TV screens, etc.
There are not many Concorde moments in tech history but aviation has produced a few. In military warplanes there was a race for top speed that has also had its Concorde moment. The fastest fighter jet made was the Mig 25 which flew at Mach 3, but its later evolution into the Mig 31 produced a slower version flying only at Mach 2.7. The US spy plane SR 71 Blackbird could fly faster than Mach 3, but that plane has been retired and currently the fastest US warplane is the F-15 at Mach 2.5. A high speed strategic bomber was designed for fying at Mach 3, the XB 70 Valkyrie but that design was ended and instead a Mach 2 design for the B1 bomber was produced (and its alter versions were further slowed down, where it stopped flying very high and very fast, but rather fly very low near the ground and at lesser speed). Apart from aviation, the only major 'Concorde moment' in tech seems to be the evolutionary development path that led to the Bugatti Veyron. The British Top Gear TV show argued that the Veyron was the car industry's Concorde Moment and no future car would match or exceed the high speed performance of the Veyron. This of course remains to be seen, we may still find something faster some day.
Meanwhile in the familiar tech space of smartphones we may have had our 'Concorde Moment'. And that would have been in the area of camera phones. Not that the overall performance of a smartphone had somehow peaked - they keep getting more powerful in most ways - but no, I mean in the specific area of camera performance. We have seen the megapixel race for fitting more pixels to a cameraphone sensor reach a monster level at 41 megapixels with the Nokia 808 Pureview in 2012. This level was maintained in the Nokia Lumia 1020 released in 2013. However, in the four years since, no later versions of Nokia/Lumia/Microsoft flagship class smartphones have matched that camera pixel count or even come close. And cameras in rival phones have not come anywhere near close, with the 24 megapixel class being about the highest count we've seen elsewhere (so far). At least early signs of HMD's ownership of the Nokia brand now does not suggest a return to this 'super' class of megapixel count in the image sensor race. It does kind of suggest we may have had a 'Concorde moment' on that side of the matter.
But there is a lot more to cameraphones than megapixels. What about the optics? How are the lenses on the cameraphones? We have recently had some news about say Apple doing its dual camera setup (two lenses, one for wide-angle pictures, the second for telephoto images). Some cameraphone makers like Asus have offered some zoom lenses and Oppo has recently been showing a concept of a 5x optical zoom. But optical (ie 'real') zoom lenses are nothing new to cameraphones - Nokia did the world's first optical zoom for a cameraphone in 2006 when they had a '3x optical zoom' for the N93 (in reality it was 2.7x optical zoom). And to be clear, by 'real zoom' you of course have 'digital zoom' on your phone in your current smartphone. That is only image manipulation by enlarging the image which produces then the pronounced pixelated images if you enlarge enough. That is not 'real zoom' as in optical zoom. Digital zoom is a cheap trick to attempt to enlarge an image that works only at a very crude level to a very modest degree. But lets go back to Oppo. As such, a 5x optical zoom in 2017 would seem like 'logical' evolution in camera technology for phones. Except for the fact that in camera optics we have also had already a 'Concorde Moment' and reached a peak of 10x optical zoom. This was done twice by Samsung on its Galaxy class cameraphones, the Galaxy S4 Zoom in 2013 and its successor model the Galaxy K Zoom in 2014 also with 10x optical zoom. But both Nokia and Samsung have long since announced that they were discontinuing the model lines of cameraphones that had optical zoom lenses. And from that 10x optical zoom performance, even if we might get Oppo with 5x optical zoom at some point, that is a significant 'downgrade' and would argue we have had a Concorde Moment that may never be again matched by camera tech installed into a smartphone.
So there is more to cameras than sensors and lenses. There are also things such as shutters and flash units. And these are in a way connected, because a 'real flash' ie Xenon flash is the type of ultra-bright but ultra-brief light source, that it cannot function with modern cameraphone sensors used in the ways most cameraphones use them. That requires an additional camera element added to the construction, in the form of a 'mechanical shutter' that turns on and off the light access to the sensor. This produces the classic 'click' sound on a traditional camera. There is a 'door', a shutter that is clicked open and closed, for a brief fraction of a second, like say 1/125th of a second, to allow the brief moment of light to expose the image. That type of tech is needed if you want a 'real flash' on your phone. And by 'real flash' the opposite is LED flash that almost all cameraphones use today. LED flash is less bright, far longer in duration and does not produce the 'stop motion' type of effects of real flash ie Xenon flash. Like digital zoom, LED flash is better than nothing but it too is a compromise and a technologial step down from the top performance. Nokia gave us the first Xenon flash back in the Nokia N82 and there were Xenon flash units in most Nokia flagships for nearly a decade but that seems now to have passed. It is cheaper to put in an LED light source and avoid the expense of the separate shutter in the camera construction. The early phones shown by HMD did not feature Xenon flash and the early concepts show for possible next Nokia flagship phones also mostly do not include a Xenon flash display. If so, we would have a third camera tech element that would have also peaked in just the past few years.
With that, we may indeed have just witnessed our industry's Concorde moment for cameraphones. Cameraphones with 41 megapixel sensors; cameraphones with 10x optical zooms and cameraphones with Xenon flash and real optical shutters - these all were part of new phones sold just a few years ago - but now those technical pinnacles of camera design have been abandoned for cheaper simpler smaller solutions in current top-end cameraphones (that often cost more, but have other advances in other technical areas such as faster CPUs, larger displays, faster network speeds and more memory). I hope that we will still see more phones with excellent camera specs but the past three years do not leave me very optimistic. And as the camera itself is one of the most used and most appreciated technical abilities of a smartphone, it would suggest there could be a market for premium cameraphones. Might we see a separate class of smartphones that are 'camera optimized' that perhaps even abandon some of the need for 'slender looks' to allow bulkier camera construction, or are we now forever locked into the simplest cheapest camera tech into smartphones that otherwise cost far more than many mid-priced 'stand alone' digital cameras. As a camera fan myself, I am still hoping we might not have had our Concorde Moment in cameraphones. But the recent statements for example from Nokia that they were not continuing the association with Carl Zeiss optics, is a further sign that we did experience 'peak camera' in smartphones.