For Mobility, the Rubber Will Hit the Road in 2008

Carl Weinschenk

It's clear when somebody really has gotten something right. The first few paragraphs of this InfoWorld story make a compelling case that 2008 will be the year that smartphones really take off.


A lot of the heavy lifting was done in 2007, and the introduction of Apple's iPhone and the plans for the Android mobile platform made compelling news. The reporter points out that this will roil the waters that, to date, have been dominated by Symbian, Linux, Windows Mobile and Research in Motion.


On top of that, it became clear that the other major player in the landscape -- the carriers -- are going to open their networks and accommodate a wider variety of phones. No longer will users be limited to the devices anointed by service providers. This will transform the world for everyone else, including application developers and end users.


The news is not slowing even as the year winds down. Reports originally carried by Nikkei and the Kyodo News agency report that Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo will offer Google's search and e-mail applications on its handsets through its i-Mode Internet network. The reports, repeated at, say the integration will be deep enough to enable development of other applications. DoCoMo also is said to be considering using Google's free operating system in its next handsets.


This story at APC Magazine represents the next phase of Android coverage. The first phase, of course, was the announcement of the plan. Now, development prototypes are beginning to circulate. This story has a number of interesting photographs. The piece links to a YouTube video from the Open Handset Alliance. People, obviously, are intrigued: The clip was posted on November 9 and has had almost 1.6 million views.


Another significant thing to look for next year is a new mobile device from Apple. Seeking Alpha describes what it may look like, but doesn't say whether it will use a version of the iPhone operating system. Regardless, anything that Apple does is big news. The writer guesses that the new device will be Apple's take on the ultra mobile PC (UMPC) category. The rumored device will be horizontally oriented and gripped on each side. Other bits and pieces of information suggest the device will be between the 3.5-inch iPhone and the "much rumored" 7- to 10-inch Apple tablet.


There is an ongoing debate about whether Apple will push the iPhone into the business sector. If so, or if employees are using consumer versions of the device for work, the information at this New York Times link is useful. It advises how to find out which countries have carriers that support the phone and how to use the iPhone overseas economically. The link describes how to cut costs on data downloads, which can be very expensive.


In a sense, it is pointless to draw lines between iPhones, Android, tablets, UMPCs and other devices. The bottom line is that the push to mobility will continue -- and accelerate -- in the bright new year.

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