Ones to watch

Ones to watch

Nick Jones, vice president and

Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner

Research firm, Gartner, has identified eight mobile technologies that will evolve significantly through 2009 and 2010, impacting short term mobile strategies and policies. Here, Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, exposes the ones to watch.

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,” says Jones.

“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.”

Bluetooth

Gartner’s eight mobile technologies to watch in 2009 and 2010 begin with Bluetooth. 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.

Bluetooth originated as a set of protocols operating over a single wireless bearer technology. Bluetooth 3.0 is intended to support three bearers: ‘classic’ Bluetooth; WiFi; and ultra wideband (UWB). It’s possible that more bearers will be supported in the future. WiFi is likely to be a more important supplementary bearer than UWB in the short term, because of its broad availability. WiFi will allow high end phones to rapidly transfer large volumes of data.

 

Mobile user interfaces

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 and business to consumer applications.

Organisations should expect more user demands for support of specific device models driven by interface preferences. Companies should also expect consumer interfaces to drive new expectations of application behaviour and performance. Better interfaces will make the mobile web more accessible on small devices, and will be a better channel to customers and employees.

 

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.

The growing maturity of on-campus location sensing using WiFi opens up a range of new applications exploiting the location of equipment or people. Organisations delivering business or consumer applications should explore the potential of location sensing; however, exploiting it may create new privacy and security challenges.

 

802.11n

802.11n boosts WiFi data rates to between 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps, and the multipleinput, 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 WiFi performance for several years. High speed WiFi is desirable to stream media around the home and office. From an organisational perspective, 802.11n is disruptive; it’s complex to configure, and is a rip and replace technology that requires new access points, new client wireless interfaces, new backbone networks and a new power over Ethernet standard.

However, 802.11n is the first WiFi technology to offer performance on a par with the 100 Mbps Ethernet commonly used for wired connections to office PCs. It is, therefore, an enabler for the all-wireless office, and should be considered by companies equipping new offices or replacing older 802.11a/b/g systems in 2009 and 2010.

 

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. Display technology will also become an important differentiator and a user selection criterion.
 

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 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. Mobile web applications will be a part of most B2C mobile strategies.

 

Wireless broadband

Wireless broadband exploded in 2008. 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 WiFi hot spots, and the availability of mature chipsets enables organisations to purchase laptops with built-in cellular modules that provide superior performance to add-on cards or dongles.
 

Near field communication

NFC provides a simple and secure way for handsets to communicate over distances of a centimetre or two. NFC is emerging as a leading standard for applications such as mobile payment, with successful trials conducted in several countries.

Gartner does not expect NFC payment or other activities to become common, even by 2010, in mature markets, such as Western Europe and the US. NFC is likely to become important sooner in emerging markets, with some deployments starting by 2010.