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Mobile's eight

Posted: 06 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile? Bluetooth? Wi-Fi? NFC?

Eight mobile technologies will make their mark through 2010, says Gartner Inc. figuring out in firms' short-term 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 and analyst 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."

Drum roll, please.

Bluetooth 3.0
The specification is set to make its debut this year, with devices starting to hit the market around 2010. Gartner anticipates Bluetooth 3.0 will likely include features such as ultralow-power mode that will enable new devices, such as peripherals and sensors, and new applications, such as health monitoring.

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, claims Gartner. New and more-diverse UIs will complicate the development and support of business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) applications.

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

802.11n boosts Wi-Fi data rates to between 100Mbit/s and 300Mbit/s, and the multiple-input, multiple-output technology used by 802.11n offers the potential for better coverage in some situations, says Gartner. The research firm adds that 802.11n is likely to be a long-lived standard that will define Wi-Fi performance for several years.

Display technologies
Gartner forecasts several new display technologies will impact the marketplace, including active pixel displays, passive displays and pico projectors. Display technology will also become an important differentiator and a user selection criterion.

Mobile Web and widgets
Emerging as a low-cost way to bring simple mobile applications to varied devices, the mobile Web, nevertheless still has some limitations that will not be addressed by 2010, says Gartner. However, the research firm believes 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. Gartner sees mobile Web applications becoming a part of most B2C strategies.

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. 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.

Near Field Communication (NFC)
Gartner says NFC is emerging as a leading standard for applications such as mobile payment. 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). Gartner does not expect much of the NFC payment or other activities to become common, even by 2010, in mature markets, such as Western Europe and the U.S. NFC is likely to become important sooner in emerging markets, with some deployments starting by 2010.

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