I have decided, this week, to break out my crystal ball and gaze into the future.What’s the trend for mobile computing? What is likely to happen? What things do you, as a user of these systems, need to be thinking about as time passes? I will take a shot at a few here.
1. Breadth of Offerings
I don’t see the trend in breadth of offering changing any time soon. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were a multitude of computer operating systems available running on hardware from different vendors. Some systems were proprietary, like the TRS series from Radio Shack/TI, and others were open, like DOS. By the end of the decade, there were in essence two worth discussing: MS-DOS/Windows and Macintosh OS.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, by the end of next year there could be ten mobile operating systems, and that doesn’t include the plethora of proprietary OS’ that run handsets not considered smartphones. I would like to see this trend changing so we are dealing with two or three key operating systems in the next couple of years but I just don’t see that happening. More choice means more confusion for you, as a user of these systems, and for us as we try to figure out which to support and how.
More and more, these devices will be connected. Users are demanding it and carriers — starting with T-Mobile and Sprint here in the States — are starting to supply it. The iPhone has Wi-Fi built in. This will put tremendous pressure on all carriers to include wireless connectivity through wi-fi and cellular networks. I am betting this trend will accelerate over the next year with the majority of devices will have built-in, high speed wireless.
3. User Interface and Software
iPhone has raised the bar. I expect better browsers and email programs from all vendors. I expect more touch screen devices without keyboards. RIM has raised the bar. I expect better data plans and “push” email to be standard. I expect the market to diverge between larger screens sans keyboard and smaller screened, keyboard-based devices, with the middle devices — like Treos and Windows Mobile devices — squeezed out.
My bet is on 1) better connected devices that have 2) better software that is more in line with expectations of a desktop system on 3) a wider variety of device form factors and operating systems.
What does this mean for you? It means you will have to do your homework before deciding on your next phone and/or stick with a favorite brand which will force you to adopt a specific operating system.
What does this mean for software companies like Infinity Softworks? It means either picking and choosing which devices we work with or moving our development to the web so we can more effectively support a wider array of devices.