The electronic companion
This is my first post in english because the topic that i need to explain is global. It’s about what kind of mobile device we need now or in the future.
Mobility is mandatory these days, not only for workers, for everyone. When i started my University life i bought my first cellphone, that is about 20 years ago. At that time, that was a superfluous device in my parents opinion. Today, they can’t live without their cellphones.
So, first point mobility is a need for everyone. Now we have to clarify and define this need.
A mobile device has two components: the device itself that is hardware and software, and a service, that is how the user take advantage of the device. The device itself is worthles if it’s not used with a service, it’s like to carry a brick with no reason. For example, we carry a laptop (device) because we want to access our email service and edit some files (service of course). The laptop was the mobile device most popular for years but it lost this position, now the cellphone is king thanks to the mobility service for excellence: voice.
The cellphone evolved from a big brick to a compact device thanks to the strong of the voice service. Data services were added but voice will continue as the killer application. SMS was the second application in popularity and i say was because the data services are becoming better and cheaper everyday. For our analysis, it doesnt matter. What it matters is that the service evolved from just voice services to a real “multimedia communication” service. This service is so powerful that end users that to stand some huge problems like bandwidth, coverage, voice quality, price, etc. Also, the service will become as strong as it is today thanks to the advanced cellphones that we have today. Not just with voice anymore, now with data services like IM, Web, social networks and any other fancy words that you heard nowadays. In conclusion, cellphones with mobile networks are the mobility of today.
But there is another service growing faster, today a parasite of actual cellphones, Multimedia. There are devices like Archos, iPod Touch, etc. oriented to handle all the media that we need when we are away. Also with connectivity options like usb or wireless (wifi, bluetooth, etc) but not connected to a mobile network (celullar). The reason why this kind of devices are more and more popular is because of the limitations in coverage and bandwidth of actual mobile networks, we have to mention also, the price that we need to pay to access to these networks considering that Wifi access is usually free in some places. Also, the mobile network evolution is faster everyday, so we had EDGE then UMTS, HSDPA after that, and now we are talking about Wimax and LTE. All these tecnologies in less than 2 years. It’s hard to update a mobile phone to keep up this evolution.
So, what we have right now is the same device that can be used with two different services for mobility. With a Mobile Network and without a mobile network.
Two clear examples of this are Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S. Both devices are great, and i have the option to use them as cellphones or just as media players. In some cases, these are soo good as media players tht i can use them just for that, specially if i dont want to spend some bucks on the data service. Also, because these devices have Wifi, i can connect to all my data services in places like Starbucks, Hotels, and many others and i dont have to pay for that. Apple is the first company to realize this option, so we have iPod Touch with the same features than iPhone but the cellphone, and that is good for us because we will have a long lasting device to handle all our multimedia, including data applications like email and web navigation where free Wifi is available (more places everyday).
Now the trend on the mobility market is the slate or pad, a refurbished idea originally from Microsoft but improved by Apple with one key aspect: easy to use. Again, Apple provides options with and without cellphone data service. What is not available is voice. In the other hand we have Samsung Galaxy tab with everything (including voice). Let’s face it iPad is not really mobility because is too big, for some more grams we can carry a laptop instead, and because it lacks of voice, it’s not a complete replacement for a cellphone. Galaxy tab is something to look for. First Dell streak solves one of the main deffects on iPad, dimensions, a bigger screen is always welcome as long as i can keep it in my pocket. Galaxy tab makes it a little bigger but it’s still easy to carry.
Personally, i expect devices like the Galaxy tab with an optional module to integrate mobile network access, like the USB modems that we have today for 3G networks but with voice. For smallers devices i expect the same but maybe it will be a littler harder to achieve. For big devices, as users, we want to ensure that our actual investment will be up to date with the latest mobile network technology just by adding a module.
Netbooks teach us a lesson: that is the smallest form factor where Windows can be still useful. Too slow is equal to non functional, we can take a look at Sony Vaio P, small but not practicall at all. Windows Mobile was something to remember and we have to wait to see if Windows Phone 7 is what we need for smaller devices. Google said Android is not meant to be run in devices larger than phones but that is something minor, so far is a good option, specially with Froyo running that fast. iOS is another good OS but restricted to Apple devices. Blackberry is an special case that i will elaborate in another post
I am sure of one thing, we will all be using a device with a personal multimedia keeping in mind that Multimedia is everything from images, videos, etc including web navigation, email, im, apps, etc using Wifi or bluetooth. Some of these will also work as cellphones because they will have an integrated module or optional. Some will use an ultra simple cellphone in addition in order to be connected to the mobile network service.