The cellphone is the most coveted global mobile device: roughly 50 percent of the world's population now owns one, versus just 12 percent in 2000. While its first iteration was mainly for communicating with others, it's now used to send and receive e-mail, get information, access business applications, download music and videos, play games, participate in online communities and locate a person or physical place.
John Markoff, in The New York Times, says that these devices are "changing how we think about information." Unlike the PC of an earlier generation, that used icons, files and folders, the new metaphor for organizing information on the cellphone is a map, he says. Google has a new location-based service, for example, called Latitude that lets friends track each other. The explosion in new uses for cellphones is also fueling interest in a mobile advertising market to reach the billions of users worldwide.
In Deloitte's 2009 Technology, Media & Telecom Predictions report, analysts say that enterprise social networking (ESN) will spread beyond the consumer experience of social networking, with ESN tools allowing mobile workers to be part of the social network phenomenon.
Deloitte also expects that the telecommunications sector will face challenges based on the uncertain state of the global economy. They believe that financial pressures felt by the operators and their customers will actually accelerate the telecom industry's transformation. Some key highlights from the Telecom report are:
Data Ascends from the Basement to the Boardroom—Customer information has long been part of telecommunications operators' asset base, but collection has outweighed insight. Given the economic outlook, however, better customer information may help operators retain and gain customers.
Farewell Mobile Phone, Welcome the Wireless Device—In 2009, the mobile phone will evolve from being a device dedicated to cellular mobile networks into a truly wireless device.
Integration Unleashes Mobile Phone Convergence—The promise of mobile phone convergence remained largely unfulfilled in recent years, requiring consumers seeking top-of-the-range performance little alternative but to carry multiple devices. But in 2009, the convergence compromise may be overcome.
The Joys of Disintermediation: Why Operators Should Embrace the Application Store—Mobile operators have long been concerned by disintermediation: the intrusion by third parties into the originally closed relationship between operator and customer. But in 2009, mobile phone users are expected to download more than 10 billion applications to their mobile phones—the majority from sites managed by mobile device manufacturers, consumer electronics firms, and software houses.
There's a lot more information about trends in mobile devices. Here's a roundup of some useful books, articles, blogs, events and reports that will keep you in the know.