SEVEN mobile tech trends of 2007 that will make it BIG in 2008

27 Dec

This year, the mobile industry witnessed something that can be termed as the beginning of the cellular revolution. Voice call charges have dropped to such an extent that any further decrease would make them free. There are almost 3 times more mobile Internet users in India than the number of broadband subscribers. And of course, India is now adding over eight million new subscribers a month. But when it comes to mobile technology – the stuff that makes smart phones with mind blowing features – the story isn’t exactly the same. 

This year, we saw numerous interesting technologies that were surely amusing but failed to make any significant mark. Some let down by regulatory issues while others just too expensive to implement on a larger scale. Still others, whose seeds were sown this year and the benefits, will be reaped next year. Here’s our list of seven hot technologies of 2007 that will become the buzzwords in 2008.

GPS/Maps: Watch out for this one! Location is poised to become big, very big. We are not talking of real-estate prices but services enabled by location aware cellphones! Next year, almost every cellphone priced at Rs 5,000 upwards will be capable of showing your location on a digital map and might even help in navigating you to your destination. Nokia has already demonstrated its prowess with its GPS-enabled phones, while Google Maps shows your position on detailed maps of most Indian cities. What’s next? Google is expected to launch navigation capabilities for India in the first quarter of 2008 and other handset brands are likely to piggy back on its solution. Also expect to see lot of Bluetooth GPS receivers in all shapes and sizes to complement non-GPS enabled cellphones.  

Mobile TV: Everyone has been talking about Mobile TV as the ‘next-big-thing’ for two years now. So what makes us think that it will finally fly off in 2008? We expect the regulator to come up with a clear policy for Mobile TV operations in the country. With 3G coming in (finally!), the carriers will be more than interesting to offer special Mobile TV packages for subscribers of 3G services. Another factor would be wider availability of phones with larger screens optimised for watching streaming media.

Motion sensors: Initiated by the iPhone for its changing screen orientation feature, expect motion sensors to become a hygienic feature in mid-end and high-end phones by the last quarter of 2008. This will bring features like motion based games (jeez how about a Nintendo Wii phone?), browsers that scroll by tilting the phone and similar fancy features.

Touch sensitive UI: You must be wondering why we are talking about touchscreen phones when they have been around for eons. Blame the iPhone for this. Next year is going to be the year of touchscreen phones. Starting from mid-end phone upwards, touchscreen will gain popularity like FM radio has seen in 2007. And what’s more, you won’t be fiddling with lousy styluses any more, the UI is going to be finger-based input. Some multimedia phones that won’t have a complete touchscreen will have a narrow touch sensitive strip that will replace the soft keys. 

Open mobile OS: Smartphones running on a variety of open source operating systems will rule the year 2008. Needless to say, everyone – from handset vendors to carriers to app developers – have their hopes pinned on to Android, Google’s foray into the mobile OS environment. It is going to be a rocking year for application developers.

Virtual phones: Next year, your cellphone will go virtual. Imagine the freedom of accessing your cellphone while sitting in a cyber café and downloading pictures and files from your phone. You might even be able to make calls and send text messages from your phone via a web environment. Nokia already has such an application in the beta mode and others will follow.

Smart keypads: Keypads are one of the most crucial elements in a cellphone. No matter how great a phone’s features might be, a poorly designed keypad is all that it takes to make it a failure. We expect to see touch sensitive keypads that morph according to the application that is being used. Since there won’t be any mechanical keys, these keypads will either vibrate or emit a ‘beep’ when a key is pressed. We have seen a similar mechanism in the Moto Razr2 V8 and expect it to be used on the entire keypad.

There you go! Now we are off for a catnap and dream about phones that will rock our world in 2008.

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