Redefine the Design: Help Reinvent Mobile
EDITORIAL
Rob Enderle
The Birth of the Global Mobile Companion
February 24, 2009

The technology market tends to go in cycles in which a lot of confusion surrounding platforms eventually gives way to a common platform allowing rapid application and hardware advancement. This is typically followed by stagnation which leads to new platforms until a new standard emerges. The first consolidation was around IBM and the mainframe, the second around Microsoft and Windows, and we currently are in a platform confusion phase with each leading product effectively having its own unique platform on mobile devices. Right now the odds favor Google as the next recipient of platform ownership, but Microsoft is clearly not giving up without a fight and the platform specific products from Apple, Palm, and RIM aren't going away easily either.

These platform fights create a huge problem when it comes to advancing technology because so much resource is wasted on the resulting market complexity and significantly slows down hardware and software advancement.

But let's jump ahead to 2015, when we should once again have a common platform, and talk about what we'll likely find in mobile hardware and software at that time.

2015 and the Mobile Companion

Gene Roddenberry called the concept a "Global", but regardless of the name, the result likely will be more of a mobile companion than a Smartphone, Netbook, Notebook, or PDA. As part of a multi-factor authentication platform, and likely using a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), the device will be part of your identity and will, along with some form of biometric tool, be how you'll carry out both local and remote transactions securely and with comparatively low risk.

It should, however, be able to identify you to the devices you work with, the retailers you frequent, and keep you connected to the relevant services. In the home it can connect you to recipes, TV programs you want to watch (allowing those programs to follow you) music, and even reading material. If you are in trouble, an On-Star like function should be able to alert authorities to your problem and location and ensure a rapid response. It's personality largely exists virtually, in the cloud, both so the aspects of the device can be better protected and so they can easily be transferred to other devices when appropriate in order to maximize performance and optimize the experience.

Expanding on current Smartphone solutions, it will be the hub for your communications and email, and other forms of text, audio, and video communications will flow through the device. Physically it will have a flex screen, probably use an alternative form of power, like a fuel cell, to remain small and have both the range and life that will be needed. Finally, it will be uniquely personalized in both fit and finish to your unique requirements.

The next step in mobile devices is the first big step toward turning technology from a tool to an assistant and its birth is predicated on the coming emergence of single standard platform.

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