Gartner has issued a report on the top 10 mobile technologies through 2011, picking the upcoming Bluetooth 4.0, which offers a low-energy mode targeting sensor communications, as having the largest impact. Other emerging mobile trends include the growing use of 4G networks, GPS, touchscreens, M2M communications, and mobile browsers, says Gartner.
Gartner's "Ten Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2010 and 2011," identifies the mobile technologies that will "evolve in ways that affect corporate strategies, significant numbers of customers or employees will adopt or expect them, or will address particular mobile challenges that organizations will face," according to the report. The list includes the widely expected rise of mobile browsers, widgets, and and app stores. Other trends are more surprising, however, such as a projected impact for Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.0, as well as the rise of M2M services.
Gartners's top 10 mobile technologies to watch in 2010 and 2011 are said to include, in the order listed by Gartner:
- Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.0 — While Bluetooth 3.0 is now available to tap WiFi for faster data transmission, in 2011 Bluetooth 4.0 will introduce a new low-energy (LE) mode that will enable communication with external peripherals and sensors, says Gartner.
Bluetooth 4.0and its LE technology "will enable a range of new sensor-based business models in industries such as fitness, healthcare, and environmental control and will be used by handset and PC peripherals to enable new functions, such as PCs that autolock when users move away from them," says the research group. Earlier this month, the Bluetooth SIG announced that Bluetooth 4.0 devices will start arriving in the fourth quarter of this year.
- The mobile web — By 2011, over 85 percent of handsets will offer web browsers, says Gartner. Meanwhile, the growth in smartphones with relatively large and high-resolution screens will expand mobile web usage, making it possible to deliver some B2C applications using conventional Web tools without adaptation, says the research group.
- Platform-independent mobile AD tools — Because of the increasing diversity of mobile platforms over the next few years — no consolidation is in sight, suggests Gartner — cross-platform application development (AD) tools will continue to be in high demand as a way to reduce software development costs, says the research firm. We're not sure which particular tools Gartner has in mind, but Nokia's Qt comes to mind as one contender.
- App stores — According to Gartner, app stores will play several roles in organizations' B2C and B2E strategies: as a distribution channel for mobile applications, as a commercial channel to sell applications and content, and as a conduit for providing new options for application sourcing. Links to the cloud are also said to be a growing app store trend.
- Enhanced location awareness — By the end of 2011, Gartner projects that over 75 percent of devices shipped in mature markets will include GPS, enabling a wide range of B2E and B2C location-aware applications. The report cautions that organizations should be sensitive to local privacy regulations, and to ensure that the applications are "opt in."
- Cellular broadband — The performance of multimegabit wireless broadband, presumably referring to 4G services such as LTE and WiMAX (soon to appear in the pictured, Sprint-ready HTC Evo 4G), will continue to increase. This trend will expand the range of applications that no longer require fixed networking, while making cellular broadband a more effective fallback, says Gartner. 4G is also said to be expanding the viability of e-book players and media players.
- Touchscreens — Touchscreens will be included in over 60 percent of mobile devices shipped in Western Europe and North America in 2011, says the research firm. Other touchscreen trends are said to include the use of multi-touch interfaces and haptics.
- M2M — The "very fragmented" M2M (machine-to-machine) market is nevertheless growing at over 30 percent per year, with low-cost M2M modules enabling a wide range of new networked devices and business models, says Gartner. Key applications are said to include smart grid, meter reading, security/surveillance, automotive systems, vending and point of sale, remote monitoring, and track and trace.
- Device-Independent Security — A variety of security technologies, application technologies, and sourcing options are enabling a new app security model that is less tightly tied to specific devices and platforms, "and that, in many cases, do not require security tools to be installed on the client," says Gartner. Such technologies are said to include thin-client architectures, applications as a service, platform-independent forms of network access control (NAC), portable personality, virtualization, and hosted security services, such as "in the cloud" virus scanning.
In an interview by eWEEK's Michelle Maisto, Gartner analyst Nick Jones picks Bluetooth 4.0 as the technology that will be most noticeable to consumers. "It will also enable a lot of peripherals to the mobile phone and have a battery life of potentially years," said Jones. He went on to note the potential for Bluetooth 4.0-enabled peripherals including "intelligent, simple jewelry" with unique functionality, as well as health care solutions, such as a device that measures a person's blood pressure or heart rate, according to the story.
Jones was also said to have noted that we've only begun to see the impact of the app store revolution. "The third phase that we're starting to see emerging is device plus cloud, or plus services," Jones told eWEEK. "It's not just about the apps on the device anymore, but that they give you access to things in the cloud."
Other particularly important mobile trends listed by Jones include the growth of web browser, and the spread of GPS, although, as with the report, he cautioned about companies overstepping on privacy concerns. "There may be a bit of a generation gap here," Jones was quoted as saying. "Many young people are much happier to make the details of their life known. Some people will worry about privacy, though."
According to the story, Jones expects Android to take the number two mobile OS spot in the future. "I think we'll see some shifting in where the developers are focusing," he was quoted as saying. Beyond that statement, however, the report announcement doesn't mention specific OSes, nor does it cite the growing trend toward open source mobile OSes. However, a recent Gartner smartphone report places Android sixth in the current ranking among smartphone OSes, behind fifth-place Linux.
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