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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Phone that Powers Your Life

There's been so much going on in the world of technology of late and so many innovations appearing constantly, it sometimes gets difficult to actually understand what is the way forward.  We get so engrossed everything gadget related, we're late to spot or realize trends of where we're heading.  It's only when we take a deep breath, step back and slow ourselves down so we can comprehend where exactly things are moving.

Even then, you don't fully understand it, however, I've attempted to take a crack at one area of technology that I feel will end up driving a lot more of our lives moving forward and that is our mobile phone.

We've certainly come a long way from the days of
rotary phones.

Whether you it's a mobile phone, smart phone or a phone that's one day embedded under your skin (as in our previous post about Skinput), one thing is for sure, the processor in here is probably what is going to drive a lot of what we do or how we work.

In some senses we've already seen this happen with way we use our BlackBerry, Apple iPhone or Android-powered smartphone.  We use the phone to check our messages on Facebook or Twitter, SMS, chat over BBM or What'sApp, browse the web, play games, check stock market updates or weather forecasts, get restaurant reviews or even, make phone calls (what, you use your phone to call people?).

However, inspite of using a mobile phone, we still end up using during the course of a normal day, other devices like a computer of some sort, a TV screen and increasingly a tablet.  In essence, most people are moving towards towards the stage that they've got four screens in front of them at most times and more often than not, they're using more than one screen at at time (e.g. watching TV and checking Facebook on your laptop or smartphone).

How long do we expect to use all four screens and why are all the four screens not connected?

As much as we say we've managed to integrate everything and synchronize things, we're still essentially running all four screens independently.  We can move forward if we power all four screens from one source and have the data for all four screens reside in one source.  Out of the four screens, the one that's most personal to us is our mobile phone and this is most likely the one we'd want to power everything else for us.  So it doesn't seem unlikely that the direction we're moving in is that the mobile phone, the processor inside it and the memory that's contained within it is what is used to operate our computer, tablet or TV in the future.

Why save data on four separate sources or why have your Apps loaded in four different places when it can be stored in one place and appear automatically on the other screens?

For the mobile phone to be the single unifying source though, there would have to be great advancements in terms of mobile processor technology, mobile memory technology and mobile battery technology life.

One development also that we've started to see is operating systems that move across platforms.  Google has been busy working on Android for smartphones and tablets, Chrome OS for notebooks and Google TV for our television (not sure what Google TV is, have a look at the video below).  Apple has also got iOS for smartphones and tablets, Mac OS for their notebooks and Apple TV, though this is not technically an operating system that resides on a TV.  HP's been talking the same language with WebOS and they've all got visions of pumping their OS onto as many devices as possible.

With also the likes of Etisalat and du rolling high speed wireless internet through the deployment of their latest generation LTE networks, the speed and bandwidth required to combine the requirements all these four devices onto one network could be a reality before we know it.

This could also mean that some products that we consider to be "personal" today may not be as personal moving forward such as a notebook computer or a tablet.  Today, most people don't want to share these devices but wouldn't mind sharing them if they know all the processing power and data resides within their mobile phone only.  Sharing a tablet or notebook computer could essentially be no different to sharing a TV screen.

Motorola's Atrix comes with a netbook dock
(Image from zdnet.co.uk)
We've already started seeing evidence of how the mobile phone will start to power or connect with other devices with products like Motorola's Atrix, BlackBerry's PlayBook or HP's TouchPad which are coming on the market very soon.

Have Doc Stevens and Marty McFly got you thinking
about the future?
What I've discussed here is just one possible avenue that the mobile phone industry could take.  There are limitless ways in how it could mutate itself but with the likes of Apple, Acer, Dell or HP today entering the mobile, tablet and computing space, seeing all of this combined with your TV could well become a reality.

If and when any of this happens, the next question will be "what next?"  I'll leave that to you to think about as you ponder on think about what you saw in the Back to the Future trilogy is something that we could be seeing soon.

 Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics