The future is bright but is it mobile?

Brief History and introduction

There are currently about 3.2 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and that number is expected to grow by at least a billion in the next few years. Today, mobile phones are more prevalent than cars (about 800 million registered vehicles in the world) and credit cards (only 1.4 billion of those). While it took 100 years for landline phones to spread to more than 80% of the countries in the world, their wireless descendants did it in 16!

Current situation

Mobile phones are everywhere. We may think that without laptops or desktops, electronic communication is difficult or we cannot conduct electronic transactions etc. Yep, that is an entirely incorrect assumption as whatever we may do with laptops/desktops we can either already do with mobile phones or we can pass that problem to the myriad of firms who specialise in such solutions to make it happen. What is fuelling the adoption of this small device to do everything? Well, firstly as stated above it is the sheer fast coverage that has been enabled by the explosion in mobile devices. How it has spread so fast and in many cases bypassed the landline/analogue scenario, is quite amazing. Many countries used to have outdated systems and waiting queues for landlines that ran into years, in many cases. Enter the mobile phone. You want one and you want it now? Okay, we aim to please was the response by the mobile operators. Secondly, in the developed world, the cheap costs contributed further to ubiquitous adoption.

Now we live in almost two parallel worlds. One world is dominated by the developing countries that use the mobile phone for payment of goods, banking, medical alerts and general communication at rates that they can afford. The second world is the developed countries and the adoption of smartphones, even by the consumers. As these users are considerably affluent, they are looking for more ways of using these devices to do almost anything. Attend a meeting and they want to know about more people who they have something in common with, whether at that meeting they can locate their next marketing director or whether they want to do their weekly grocery shopping.

The Future

I predict that within the next five to ten years, laptops, desktops, land lines and client side installed applications will become obsolete.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you the future – One world, One device!

Yes, it’s true. Why would we need any more than one device.

Here is the story of Paul in the not too distant future.

It was 8am in New York and Paul was ready to attend his first meeting for 9am. While shaving using his mobile (Yep, okay, maybe not), he was lost in thought and was wandering whether to have breakfast delivered to the room or to go downstairs. This thought was quickly interrupted by the phone that was still charging; he looked up at the head up display just above the sink in the mirror trying to recognise the number. He didn’t have to look too long as he could see the silhouette of the automatic doctor telling him quite loudly that he had to take his medication.

He was just about to phone for breakfast to be delivered to his room when the auto doctor reappeared. He knew he wouldn’t go away, so he opened the tablet bottle and took his tablets (RFID tag triggers that the bottle has opened & transmits signal via phone).

At approximately, 905 am, the phone rang for attending the meeting. The Head up display showed that six people were in attendance virtually around a table including him and the meeting started. During the meeting, another colleague had to be called but no one knew his mobile number. A quick look through the mobile device’s address book gave them the number of his landline. Luke, picked up his phone and told them that he was actually in Argentina (VOIP enabled extension on follow me). The meeting recommenced and concluded around approx 1030am.

Paul looked at his Calendar and noticed that he had a presentation and a whitepaper to write for a conference later in the week. He sat back in his chair and enabled the head up display. As all the company’s files were held in the Cloud, he called up the necessary applications via voice commands and finished his work by approx 2pm.  While looking at some stats, he was thinking to himself how far the banking world had come from the days of the 2009 bailout and reliance on in house systems.

As he was networking in the evening, he decided to look at the attendee list to identify and mark the people he wanted to meet in order of priority. He also set auto replies for these people and others who he could not meet.

As he was leaving the hotel room, he paid his bill.

The future is One world, One device!

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About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

8 Responses to The future is bright but is it mobile?

  1. mubbisherahmed says:

    Stuart Brown, CRM Business Analyst/PMO, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    An interesting article Mubbisher. I think you are on the right track, but I do not think that desktops/laptops/landlines will be obsolete within 5 years. Looking at the speed of receiving data via 3G, it is incredibly slow when compared to landline based ADSL2 or cable. Within the UK, there are some super fast speeds (depending where you live) but if everyone was using their mobile phones for data, systems would suffer a massive slowdown.

    You mention – ‘One World, One Device’ – is the one device an existing mobile or an altogether new device? Personally, I like having some large screen real estate (although I do get the ‘virtual reality’ aspect you touch upon with the Heads Up display).

    Kevin Babcok, IT Director commented:

    An interesting view of the future and probably not far off. I have worked with and developed mobile phone applications on Black Berry, Palm and Windows Mobile devices. I have deployed over 200 such devices and managed them. Here in my opinion as to the obstacles that need to be overcome to see your vision realized.

    – Screen size, this is probably the number one limitation in what we have been able to do with mobile devices. Applications that require larger screen real estate cannot work on a mobile device size screen efficiently. Now, I do see the capability coming soon to drive say USB type monitor off a mobile device which will be a big step towards a single unit future but, that would then require carrying a separate monitor with you for field use. Perhaps the most promising future solution would be lasers or LEDs that project screen images onto a flat surface from these mobile devices. Prototypes of these are out and time will tell if they are the answer.

    – Power, presently the power of existing mobile devices is far inferior to that of laptops or desktops placing certain restrictions on what they can do. While it is true that the power of these devices will continue to improve over the next five years so do the power of laptops and desktops. The software written over the next five years will be designed to take advantage of this power increases just as developers always have. The result being that desktop/laptop will maintain their power advantage over mobile devices. This will only be exasperated by my final observation.

    – Battery life, as these devices mature in capability and power battery life capacity must increase to support it. This is a major stumbling block today and one has a silver bullet on the drawing board for to solve this.

    Now all that being said I do agree with your vision I am just not sure that your timeframe is accurate. Either way it will be interesting to see it develop.

    Stuart Brown replied and added:

    Those were my thoughts as well Kevin – the screen size aspect could be countered with use of a miniature projector incorporated into the device. This would bring the big screen real estate that people are used to.

    At a recent games conference Microsoft unveiled technology that allowed you to interact with games without using a device – simply wave your hands and the system would track your movements. Perhaps that same technology, combined with a projector screen in a mobile device could be the future of mobile computing.

    Battery life is definitely a concern. When using a phone to listen to mp3s and simply take calls it can run and run – but as soon as you start using GPS and accessing the internet, the power drains incredibly rapidly.

    To which, Kevin Babcok added:

    The screen size was always our biggest challenge rolling out new applications. We were experimenting with utilizing PDAs/smartphones to process payroll in the field but again the screen size proved too limiting to allow this function. We were able to get the payroll onto the smart phones but the amount of jumping between screens proved far too inefficient. This is just one example of many I’ve encountered.

    I know what you’re talking about in regard to the various types of input devices in development. A couple of years ago there was a device that could display a keyboard on a flat surface via a laser. The device could pick up input when a individual would tap the appropriate keys on the drawn keyboard. I believe this device is in production now but again at the cost of battery life.

    It is the battery that is the killer. Phone designers acknowledge that their main constraint in features and capabilities of their phones are the batteries. The small incremental improvements we are seeing willnot be sufficient to allow these devices to reach their full potential.

    I replied and said:

    Thanks for your valuable feedback on my recent topic. Yes, I accept, I’ll change the 5 year timeline to 10 as you are both correct in saying that more work is required to realise the vision of my article. On the other side, when we want to bring in applications that work off the cloud, reliability can be a real factor to consider and the associated security of these applications:

    In another Group, Jason Paul said the following as well:

    Good article. While I agree with many of the points, specifically that the mobile platform will be the face of computing in developing countries, I do not believe that everything else will disappear in five years. Case in point:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/20/dziuba_twitter_hack/

    This is a very public example about the problem of cloud computing and the risks one takes entrusting sensitive information to a third party. So “laptops, desktops, land lines and client side installed applications” have a bright future.

    Kevin Babcock added on 3/9/09:

    True, another issue of cloud computing/ASP programs and smart phone devices is connectivity. Often our crews would work inside downtown buildings or more rural areas and suffer disruption of service because of holes in the wireless networks. This has gotten better as time has gone on but is still prevalent enough that we went the route of designing applets on the devices to allow the user to continue working when connectivity was lost.

    Stuart Brown added:

    Speaking of the cloud, gMail was down a couple of times this week…I thought it was my internet connection but later found out it was gMail. I think that may be the fifth or sixth outage this year?

    I did get my thinking – with the inevitable progression to the cloud, what are the most important areas to get right – would that be security and reliability?

    I replied and said 3/3/09:

    There are a few areas that cloud computing service providers will need to address prior to large scale acceptance by the majority of large businesses. As you have highlighted already, that will revolve around business continuity/Disaster Recovery, i.e. how quickly can the service be restored. Businesses will not only look at SLA’s but will also require proof that sites are for example mirrored and multiple redundancy options are available. This will take care of the reliability from the service provider’s end. That said, careful consideration will have to be given to, for example, a global business wanting to use cloud computing. How will users in remote areas, such as, Africa, where connectivity (as Kevin has mentioned), is pretty poor access applications and data? So, in such scenarios, hybrid solutions will have to exist. In parrallel, security and data compliance issues will need to be solved, such as, Sarbanes Oxley in the States etc. Issues around liability will need to be part of any contracts as well, for example, who is responsible for the financial burden when data is lost.

    Kevin Babcock added 4/9/09:

    The largest stumbling block for cloud computing is in its security. While IT executives can control the security levels of in-house systems this is not the case with third party cloud computing solutions. At present most cloud offering provided rudimentary security measures, much of this can be attributed to the technology still being in its infancy.

    I believe from a continuity and disaster recovery aspect the solution is often better than in-house solutions. This for the simple reason that they are under a much higher level of scrutiny and will often have a much higher level of funding to provide these capabilities. Again, much of this depends on the vendor being talked about. if you’re speaking of a Google or Amazon I would be very comfortable with their solutions. People may point out that Google just had an outage the other day and others throughout the year but I post the question then would an in-house system fare any better?

    Regardless of the state today it is going to be the future and its biggest limiting factor will be connectivity speed.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Jason Paul Kazarian, Staff Engineer at Left Brained Geeks, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    Good article. While I agree with many of the points, specifically that the mobile platform will be the face of computing in developing countries, I do not believe that everything else will disappear in five years. Case in point:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/20/dziuba_twitter_hack/

    This is a very public example about the problem of cloud computing and the risks one takes entrusting sensitive information to a third party. So “laptops, desktops, land lines and client side installed applications” have a bright future.

    Disclaimer: I am a region chair for the ArmTech Congress ’09 ( http://www.armtechcongress.com ) and advise European IT firms. I have a vested interest in promoting international, multi-site hardware and software development projects.


    Jason Paul Kazarian
    jpk at lbgeeks dot com
    +374 77 81 82 89
    +1 214 234 9283

    I replied and said:

    Thanks for your valuable feedback on my recent topic. Yes, I accept, I’ll change the 5 year timeline to 10 as you are both correct in saying that more work is required to realise the vision of my article.

    Elsewhere in another Group, Kevin Babcock made the following observation which I thought was relevant to the context of my article:

    Here in my opinion as to the obstacles that need to be overcome to see your vision realized.

    – Screen size, this is probably the number one limitation in what we have been able to do with mobile devices. Applications that require larger screen real estate cannot work on a mobile device size screen efficiently. Now, I do see the capability coming soon to drive say USB type monitor off a mobile device which will be a big step towards a single unit future but, that would then require carrying a separate monitor with you for field use. Perhaps the most promising future solution would be lasers or LEDs that project screen images onto a flat surface from these mobile devices. Prototypes of these are out and time will tell if they are the answer.

    – Power, presently the power of existing mobile devices is far inferior to that of laptops or desktops placing certain restrictions on what they can do. While it is true that the power of these devices will continue to improve over the next five years so do the power of laptops and desktops. The software written over the next five years will be designed to take advantage of this power increases just as developers always have. The result being that desktop/laptop will maintain their power advantage over mobile devices. This will only be exasperated by my final observation.

    – Battery life, as these devices mature in capability and power battery life capacity must increase to support it. This is a major stumbling block today and one has a silver bullet on the drawing board for to solve this.

  3. Mike says:

    I think the five year prediction is partially right. By then,our home will be lighted, our security alarmed and disarmed, our air-conditioning, solar and non solar, our entertainment, and our transportation will all be run by computer. Our phones will become remote controls for these services. According to a recent film I saw on the introduction to their annual meeting, computers will have artificial intelligent almost equal to humans. I think that the phones will become our remote to control it By the way in that same article within 40 years they will be twice as intelligent as humans. I guess you could argue with comparisons to some humans today we are already there.

  4. andrew barker says:

    Paul,

    An interesting view and the subject matter is critical for companies to change and enable business models to evolve. But you miss many key and basic elements:

    1. 50% of the working poplation have poor eye sight. Screen (and thus page) size is critical and hence:
    i. a variety of devices will be required.
    ii. These devices will be docked and the desktop monitor will evolve to be the hub around which one operates from a base at home or work
    2. Software companie such as Microsoft et al will always over use the processing power that the hardware manufacturers build-in:
    i. Thus a variety of devices will be needed to cope with the different software environments one use/needs in any single day
    ii. Software companies ensure a single device soon becomes obsolete (or at best less usable)
    3. Demographic coverage by mobile networks is not the same as geographic coverage. Mobility as the word implies suggests you can, and do, need to operate anywhere geographically. Well we are at least a quarter of a century away from making this happen Europe wide, let alone World wide. The infrastucture required is immense and with increasingly bandwidth hungry applications the goal moves further away and not closer! As a responder says 3G is slow today; butmany peope in reality still have to work at GPRS speed which is virtually impossible.
    4. The majority of what is done on a computer is private and a solus activity! Whether this be chat/email, phone, entertainment and lets not forget pornography which drives s much usage in the home. On a test for a major UK ISP I was involved with, 60% of traffic on a Sunday at 6.00-7.00pm was viewing porn – FACT.

    So not one device, the private desktop area will remain but will change from a place of processing power to one of private viewing and high bandwidth internet usage.

  5. mubbisherahmed says:

    Patti Wilson, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    Good Article

    Peter Altschuler, Senior Marketing and Creative Strategist, added:

    Your future scenario is terrifying. If people do, in fact, become so cavalier about revealing every aspect of their private lives through online media, the opportunities for abuse are inconceivably high.

    In a strictly business environment, concern about security is intense. A client of mine has developed software that transforms enterprise application tasks and content for use on smartphones, and one of the firm’s biggest obstacles centers on security involving lost or stolen devices.

    Consumers, on the other hand, especially younger ones who post remarkably intimate details of their lives online (and in their mobile applications), don’t necessarily have a well-developed sense of what’s appropriate for (and vulnerable over) the web. Yet social media sites all encourage users to reveal that information, and the caveats that do exist do not pop up — like the virtual doctor in your scenario — to warn them of the risks. Imagine geolocation being used NOT to find nearby friends but nearby adversaries. Street gangs and hit men are gonna love it.

    If voice recognition advances, the keyboards of laptops and netbooks and palmtops may not be necessary, and we may grin even more broadly at the amusing scene from one of the “Star Trek” films: Scotty, who’s not getting a response when he talks to a computer, is advised to use the keyboard and sneers, “How quaint.” Yet, until then, I won’t be entering a message like this one on a BlackBerry or iPhone.

    I replied:

    The mobile phone, just as any other similar medium is just an access tool such as a laptop and indeed as you have suggested, people already have such cavalier attitudes and many try in vain, for example, to delete comments made in cyber space, only to find that Cyber space has its own laws. The secret is to educate users, design appropriate computer usage policies (CUP) to ensure that a company’s online presence, whether it is a bonafide extension such as a mini site on a social networking site or by employee participation enhances and does not damage its reputation.

    Mobile technology can now be encrypted and data can be wiped and the mobile killed, so even now there is some level of protection and with time that can only get better.

    I do agree with your geolocation arguement though and I do not perceive that as a huge problem within the professional circles, unless someone really upsets someone in another company!

    Blackberry’s and Windows Mobile devices are quite secure as they support the technologies required for Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) compliance. FIPS certification is required for selling products to the federal government. Both support FIPS 140-1 and its successor, FIPS 140-2.

    In actual fact, Blackberry after an intensive security evaluation, the UK Government Security Authority, CESG, has issued a final guidance document
    that assures the BlackBerry wireless communications solution for use by government with restricted data.

    This is no mere achievement,as for once even Microsoft’s Windows Mobile solution is not accredited to CESG and Restricted Data. So, rest assured, the Blackberry is probably even more securer than your laptop!

  6. Daniel says:

    Hi Paul, I would disagree with obsolescence for a number of reasons:
    1. Wireless is not secure (the White House and Pentagon still uses landlines)
    2. Mobile apps have small screens, so are not suitable for all apps
    3. Processing power for mobiles remains poor, way behind that required for gaming etc.

    I can see TV sets dying out, replaced by home multimedia units and growth in mobile apps but I have very strong reservations about mobiles because of the ease of hacking. A report last month showed how RF ID cards could be hacked from a passing car. The more info that is carried on mobile devices, the more worth while it is to hack them.

    regards

  7. Kim Geater Partner at Business Transformation Services, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    Mobility really has evolved over the past 5 years. Beyond standard phone and email, you can use handhelds to scan documents-, images or products, use cloud computing tools to integrate with SAP and other applications. So you can go to to a Bears game – attend a webinar, watch educational videos while tailgating, see daily results of inventory or sales, get IT security alerts, scan the number of hot dogs served, twiiter your friends pictures of the officials incorrect call, google the stock price, place a customer order, get product specs, or even find where your customers are sitting via gps.. Mobile technology has come a long way in both hardware and software solutions. You just have to ask “how do you work and what do you need to know ” and many solutions are already available on handheld devices. If not- companies have developed cloud platforms for high end rugged handheld devices. But you may still need a laptop – it depends upon how you work and what you need to know…Cheers Kim

    I replied:

    Thanks, Kim, for another insight into the tools that are already available for all, some that I was not aware of, incidentally. It is a very interesting area to watch and it will be interesting to see how it all evolves in the future
    Would you have some time to send the web links to the mobile tools that you find most useful?

  8. mubbisherahmed says:

    Dr.Devendra Dwivedi research officer-gender&development at utthan sustainable &poverty alleviation national n.g.o.,allahabad, after reading this article commented in one of the forums, I am a member of:

    Mobile education is the key to knowledge growth,feel a new breed of young teachers,leaders and entrepreneurs….voice of mobile student who demand quality education.ten mobile teachers in my NGO ,who recently came together to share their vision for india,agreed that student,employment and education are the key words….NGO needed to pump in more mobile in terms of digital knowledge.focus should be on mobile education to help our student become employable…..

    I replied:

    Yes, I agree, particularly applicable in countries where computers are relatively expensive for the local populace to afford. The more mobiles we can get into these poorer areas with appropriate applications, the better informed, educated and responsive we can make them. Mobiles also provide them the chance to communicate with the outside world, especially in emergencies. The key though is literacy, if they cannot read/write, all of this is defeated and falls by the wayside.

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