Mobility Becomes Necessity: New Devices Incoming, Existing Categories to Grow
There is a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather stones. Nowadays it is definitely the time of scattering stones on the market of mobile devices. Just several years ago smartphones combined functionality of cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), but next year we expect a range of new mobile devices to emerge.
Here is what we can expect:
- Highly integrated tablets with touch-screens based on ARM microprocessors or special versions of Intel Atom. In fact, those devices will basically be multimedia companions for smartphones, but in many ways they will resemble PDAs from the early 2000s, they will just get bigger and more powerful. The products are expected to use various proprietary Linux operating systems.
- Mobile Interned devices (MIDs) that were unveiled back in 2006 may finally gain popularity as vendors polish-off design and form-factors of their products. In fact, there will be just a small number of actual differences between MIDs and oversized PDAs (tablets): the former will run Windows and will be based on x86 processors, whereas the latter are likely to be smaller and slimmer.
- Although there have been a lot of talks about smartbooks, no company has actually launched one. Perhaps, next year there will be some companies to make smartbooks, at least, there is a place for them on the market, albeit, not a very big one.
- Incredibly powerful and feature-rich smartphones, even more advanced than Nokia N900. Those devices will still resemble mobile phones, but will feature QWERTY keyboards, very high integration of features and loads of software installed by the manufacturer. Naturally, such products are likely to run various proprietary builds of Linux or Windows Mobile operating systems.
- The market of smartphones is growing rapidly and we can expect luxurious smartphones to emerge. LG Prada was virtually the first one and in 2010 there will more expensive smartphones in addition to already unveiled Nokia 8800 Erdos and Samsung Giorgio Armani (B7620) smartphones.
- Naturally, low-cost smartphones will also emerge this year. Such phones will lack certain business and security features, but will still provide more functionality than conventional phones.
- The popularity of various Internet-based services will lead to emergence of data-centric cell network-based devices aimed at Google, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and other services. We would not expect them to be popular though.
- In a number of countries cell network operators will start to launch 4G (LTE, long-term evolution) networks and WiMAX coverage will continue to expand. Considering the fact that integrated 3G/3.5G/4G/WiMAX options increase the cost of mobile computers rather substantially, we would expect emergence of external 3G/3.5G/4G/WiMAX modems for USB bus. Obviously, the actual network standard support will vary, but the general trend is continued popularization of external wireless modems.
Obviously, a lot of product categories that will come into sight in 2010 will eventually become extinct and their functionality will be found in highly-integrated devices. However, in the next two to three years their market share will be growing.