We had to see it coming. For years we took our mobile handsets for granted, picking out new phones based more on style and RF modulation technologies than for radical functionality. But all this has come to an end. Smart phones are upon us and the competition is heating up. Interestingly enough, the real battle field seems to be around the applications that users can select to add to the device: at least at the moment it does.
It is easy to see the future here isn't it? Think about all those digital toys we've had to lug around over the years. You have your phone, (does any one still use a pager?), your mp3 music player, a digital camera, your video camera, a GPS device... Well, they are all available in a single handheld device today. We could argue that the cameras need to get better and 8 megapixel devices are available, but we need better lenses before we can really enjoy them. We could argue that the displays are still a little small but that is being solved. We could argue that the batteries discharge too fast, but we can see that being solved soon too, (thanks to electric automobiles).
But what will crown the real winner in this war? If we will all have access to the feature-functionality we crave and can download any application that suits us whenever the mood takes us, who wins?
Well, cost is always king, but more than cost is the ubiquity of the device to interact with the world around it. We already have the ability to set our DVR using our cell phone and could easily use it as a remote control for our TV and surround sound system. But what about hat poor neglected PC? Is it going away? Well, perhaps in time when our handsets can project holographic images, but first we have to create the hydrogen fuel cell battery that sits inside the handset.
Can a cell phone directly jump onto my home network and operate as a peer device to my PC? Well.... The technology is there: WiFi, network storage access etc., but I haven't seen a commercial solution hit the market yet. I dream for the day when I can use my handset computer to access my home PC from any where in the world and exchange information. Of-course, this is filled with giant security issues, but someday we might solve them too, because my handset will be biometrically attached to me and authentication will be a snap.
This is going to be a great battle to watch, because as we open our wallets to dump hard earned money down on broadband cellular connections and a gazillion mobile applications, the industry is really going to heat up. In the end the consumer wins, as long as the network can keep up.