OK, I’m not really a soothsayer, nor do I play one on TV, but as you may know I tend to follow the mobile world closely. I think the next 1-3 years we’ll see more shaking out of the mobile market, we’ll see old contenders go away and new contenders show up. We can see this happening now in the corporate market. So here are my predictions! (insert drum roll)
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not a BlackBerry fan. Not because they are bad devices, but because they are trying to fill a market they weren’t built for. BlackBerry’s were built for secure messaging, today’s worker wants more than secure messaging, they want the ability to do work on the fly. Some people see this as typing Word documents or building PowerPoint presentations on their phone, but in reality it’s more like reviewing documents or even better having the ability to forward them to others. It also means having your library with you, being able to pull a book off your virtual shelf for reference. These are things that the BlackBerry wasn’t designed for, they are trying to build this capability, but they aren’t doing a great job at it. I think more and more people are going to want to be able to leave their laptops at home and be secure in their ability to get their job done if an emergency pops up.
With my predicted demise of BlackBerry, we’ll need a new company to fill the needs of the corporate workspace. I think the best company to do that in the near future will be Microsoft. While I think Microsoft has failed at producing consumer products (outside of the XBox), they have done well at building scalable corporate products. Tools like Office, Windows, Windows Server, etc… are currently the corporate standard and unless Microsoft really messes things up, it’ll stay that way.
With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to build a symbiotic platform, one that will run natively both on the mobile device and the PC. Currently the mobile devices don’t have the hardware requirements to pull this off with a heavy OS like Windows and OSX, but in a year or two I think they’ll be able to do this. So what will this give us? The ability to carry our desktop in our pockets. To be able to have docking stations and just plug our device in to use it. These mobile devices will have enough hardware behind them to support most corporate users. Plus Microsoft will be able to build in the tools to allow administrators remotely manage these devices via Windows Server or Office 365. If the device is lost? Well all your documents will be stored in a cloud anyway, so you simply get a new device, log into it and you’re ready to go.
As we go more mobile, I see docking stations becoming the norm. The twist is that these docking stations won’t JUST be in your office. They’ll be in your car, replacing your stereo and navigation system, they’ll be on your bike, replacing your cyclo computer, they’ll be in your kitchen, entertainment system, beside your bed. We’re going to start seeing docking stations everywhere. Think about it, would it be nice to be able to use your phone as your alarm clock (which is what I do now), get up to go to work and be able to stream the news to your TV or bathroom mirror via your phone, then be able to walk out the door and get on the metro, train or bus and continue to watch the news? The biggest fear will be those who are watching TV while driving, I’m not sure what to do about that, other than treat it like a drunk driving offense with loss of license and jail time.
As time goes on we’ll start seeing the ability to connect to a screen via some sort of wireless connection, so you’ll even be able to leave your mobile device in your pocket and connect to it and use it (I think for this to happen, battery technology will need to catch up).
I see Android as having the biggest potential for losing their market. They are getting a large number of low-end users who simply want a mobile device. I feel the device fragmentation has not only made it difficult for developers to determine what to code for, but it’s made it confusing for consumers who just want the latest tech. Two Android phones can be vastly different, both in quality and capability. I feel Android is working some to stop this, but Google has a lot of work to do.
I’m not sure where Apple is in all of this… I think despite their current size, they are upsetting a lot of people with the way they are controlling the AppStore and what can go on the device. I feel this is going to have to change if Apple wants to become a player in the corporate scene. Companies can write apps specifically for iOS and bypass the store, but this is tougher to manage. Apple is also going to need to build better integration into management systems, this is being done, but it’s far from what a network administrator would want.