Our World is Gonna Change Again

There are several trends in our industry that I both follow regularly and have my own predictions of what will happen. Networking and security are converging (read my personal blog to hear more), network convergence of voice, video and data, the rise of general purpose hardware over special purpose ASICs, open source software, virtualization and emerging software and product design approaches. Quite a list, I know, but to understand and guess at the future, you have to see a broad spectrum of things today.

One area in software I've been doing some work in lately is software as a service, SaaS, and more often called On Demand. Microsoft isn't quite speaking SaaS yet, though they promote the Software plus Services model. One analyst quote I saw on a site said; "Software as a service (SaaS) is becoming a viable option in more markets and companies must evaluate where service based delivery may provide value in 2008-2010". It is an appealing way to buy many types of software - pay by the drip. And, there are not the typical costs associated with implementing software in your own data center. But, there are less options for customization typically in On Demand software. There are always benefits and tradeoffs each direction, but On Demand software I believe is the future delivery for many business software applications. If you have any doubts, check Google's applications and their plans for the Google phone.

One area I see we will truly change the way we think, work and live our lives is broadband on mobile devices having the same level of usability our desktop computers do today. If you think about it, current mobile devices are very limiting, despite having 802.11 and broadband access. Though Excel and Word are available in Windows Mobile 6, a PDA just isn't a platform conducive to using these applications. I think we are the cusp of some very important advancements that will change our world again, by truly enabling a mobile computing environment. Here's my key innovations that will enable a new generation of mobile computing:

Rethinking Applications and Mobile Usability: I believe Apple's iPhone Safari browser is a sign of things to come. (I mentioned previously that the iPhone's biggest innovation was the Safari browser.) Innovative, why? First, it recognizes that the current crop of browsers are minimally usable on most web pages. Apple uses scaling technology to reform the image of a web page and make it more readable, thus more accessible. Its just the first stpe in rethinking how we use mobile applications.

Ubiquitous Broadband to Mobile Devices: I conducted one of the first commercial cable modem trials in 1995-1996. Ten years ago all of us were enthralled with the prospect of having greater than ISDN speeds into our homes through DSL broadband. Today we have 4, 6, 8 gigabits and more into homes and businesses through cable modems. The same will and is happening with mobile devices. Today it's 802.11 and EDGE type broadband, with technologies like WiMax not too far away to increase both bandwidth and availability.

Proliferation of On Demand Software for Mobile Devices: Just as Google apps, Microsoft Live and other On Demand software is growing on the net, the same is happening for mobile devices. That's why I'm very bullish on the prospects for Google enabled phones, a Google phone offering and network. If mobile devices always (or nearly always) have connectivity, why install lots of apps on your device that require syncing with a host or your desktop. On Demand apps for mobile devices changes this dynamically, and instead become the sync point for your mobile, desktop and other computers. Data lives in the cloud, along with compute power instead of all of it being on the device. That leaves more processor capability for more intuitive and naturally interactive user interfaces.

Voice Recognition and Speech Processing: The Killer Mobile Apps: The ironic thing about virtually all mobile devices today is that they are difficult (and even dangerous) to use while the user is mobile. Ever drive down the road and text a message, read email, or reply to an email? Adding more video to the picture doesn't make keeping your eyes on the road any easier. But voice does. Speech interpretation of text, speech recognition for user command, navigation and device management, and text language process processing to better determine topic and text relevance all make mobile devices usable while you are mobile.

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