Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eight key mobile technologies for 2009/2010

Gartner says that it has identified eight mobile technologies that will evolve significantly through 2010, impacting short-term mobile strategies and policies.

"All mobile strategies embed assumptions about technology evolution so it's important to identify the technologies that will evolve quickly in the life span of each strategy," said Nick Jones, vice president at Gartner. "The eight mobile technologies that we have pinpointed as ones to watch in 2009 and 2010 will have broad effects and, as such, are likely to pose issues to be addressed by short-term strategies and policies."

Gartner's eight mobile technologies to watch in 2009 and 2010:

  1. Bluetooth 3.0 -The Bluetooth 3.0 specification will be released in 2009 (at which point its feature set will be frozen), with devices starting to arrive around 2010. Bluetooth 3.0 will likely include features such as ultra-low-power mode that will enable new devices, such as peripherals and sensors, and new applications, such as health monitoring.

  2. Mobile User Interfaces (UIs) - UIs have a major effect on device usability and supportability. They will also be an area of intense competition in 2009 and 2010, with manufacturers using UIs to differentiate their handsets and platforms. New and more-diverse UIs will complicate the development and support of business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) applications.

  3. Location Sensing - Location awareness makes mobile applications more powerful and useful; in the future, location will be a key component of contextual applications. Location sensing will also enhance systems, such as mobile presence and mobile social networking.

  4. 802.11n - 802.11n boosts Wi-Fi data rates to between 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps, and the multiple-input, multiple-output technology used by 802.11n offers the potential for better coverage in some situations. 802.11n is likely to be a long-lived standard that will define Wi-Fi performance for several years. High-speed Wi-Fi is desirable to stream media around the home and office.

  5. Display Technologies - Displays constrain many characteristics of both mobile devices and applications. During 2009 and 2010, several new display technologies will impact the marketplace, including active pixel displays, passive displays and pico projectors. Pico projectors enable new mobile use cases (for example, instant presentations projected on a desktop to display information in a brief, face-to-face sales meeting).

  6. Mobile Web and Widgets - The mobile Web is emerging as a low-cost way to deliver simple mobile applications to a range of devices. It has some limitations that will not be addressed by 2010 (for example, there will be no universal standards for browser access to handset services, such as the camera or GPS). However, the mobile Web offers a compelling total cost of ownership (TCO) advantage over thick-client applications. Widgets (small mobile Web applets) are supported by many mobile browsers, and provide a way to stream simple feeds to handsets and small screens.

  7. Cellular Broadband - Wireless broadband exploded in 2008, driven by the availability of technologies such as high-speed downlink packet access and high-speed uplink packet access, combined with attractive pricing from cellular operators. The performance of high-speed packet access (HSPA) provides a megabit or two of bandwidth in uplink and downlink directions, and often more. In many regions, HSPA provides adequate connectivity to replace Wi-Fi "hot spots," and the availability of mature chipsets enables organizations to purchase laptops with built-in cellular modules that provide superior performance to add-on cards or dongles.

  8. Near Field Communication (NFC) - NFC provides a simple and secure way for handsets to communicate over distances of a centimeter or two. NFC is emerging as a leading standard for applications such as mobile payment, with successful trials conducted in several countries. It also has wider applications, such as "touch to exchange information" (for example, to transfer an image from a handset to a digital photo frame, or for a handset to pick up a virtual discount voucher).

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