Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Smartphones, Tablets and All Things Mobile

I was recently asked "What's the one hot technology to watch in 2011?" and my response was immediate: Mobile devices without a doubt.

The explosion of new form factors for mobile computing is staggering to behold. Smartphones and tablets are changing the face of information technology.  New devices are released monthly and highly anticipated by users.  Owners of mobile devices fanatically scour the app stores for good deals on the highest rated apps.  Services ranging from Netflix access, to CRM software, to electronic medical records (EMR) are revolutionizing how and more importantly WHERE we access and interact with our digital lives.  When combined with cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) the possibilities are staggering.

Smartphones have been a challenge for the enterprise for several years now. Starting with the Blackberry and then moving through Windows Mobile, Apple ios and now Google Android, end-users are demanding mobile access to corporate resources with their personal equipment and businesses are being forced to support them. It's not just rank and file information workers either, executives have bought in to the productivity gains to be had by delivering high-quality mobile products on the smartphone platform. And most everyone agrees... mobile is just plain fun.

Regarding tablets, some consider them just a larger form factor smartphone, but they're only partly right. Many consider them mainly entertainment devices, but that's only the start. Tablet computers (iPad and now Android and maybe Microsoft Windows 8 and the Playbook) are a new type of device with many of the capabilities of a full desktop or notebook computer, but that run an embedded "system on a chip." This category of device is changing how operating systems are developed and delivered. Trying to understand how having a single-chip appliance with all of the capabilities of a desktop computer will change information technology is going to be a full time occupation for R&D analysts for the next several years.

Mobile technologies are the place to watch this year. They're rapidly maturing after being in the marketplace for several years now. Businesses are in the process of determining how they can harness their capabilities and as we see new products come to market that take full advantage of the mobility that we've been granted by them there's going to be a massive change in how people interact with their information technology systems.

For a taste of how "hot" mobile is check out the articles linked here:
1. This cnet article mentions that almost 20 BILLION apps have been downloaded from the Apple and Google marketplaces. Apple developers alone have made over $4.5 billion since the release of the Apple App Store in 2008.
2. Susan Fogerty at TechTarget wrote a great article about the surging popularity of tablets today. According to their research, tablets lead even smartphones as the mobile technology of choice for 2011. Both technologies far outstrip traditional notebook computers in their survey.
3. Gartner analyzes tablet use in the enterprise in the final link. Gartner says that tablets are neither "better laptops" nor "better smartphones" but will compliment and enhance both.

Keep your eyes on mobile technologies in 2011 and 2012 and you won't be disappointed.

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