No area of personal computing has changed more rapidly than mobile technology, blurring the distinction between the mobile workforce and any other form of computing. 

By the turn of the last century mobility had clearly moved into the mainstream’s number one requirement helping people to organise and prioritise their work and personal lives.
According to IDC, by the year 2009, one out of every four workers will mobile. Not surprising considering that, according to Meta Group, on a global basis, notebook users increase their work output hours by an average of 13% per week versus their desktop counterparts through increased efficiency.
The challenge for manufacturers is to keep the global workforce always on and always connected. By making connectivity part of the existing networking and information infrastructure, a new level of usability is transforming the way people communicate, collaborate and access the data that’s most important to them.
Today, customers, partners and suppliers work together across cultures and continents through connectivity developments that are succeeding in creating a sound infrastructure for portability.
For example, in 2006 broadband connectivity reached up to 2Mbps in major markets like the US, Australia, China and Korea with even higher speeds envisaged for next year.
“High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) provides the greatest potential for worldwide broadband wireless roaming up to 1,8Mbps going to 7,2Mbps beyond 2008,” says Thibault Dousson, HP PSG category country manager.
“Before the next decade we’re likely to see it taking broadband wireless to a new level with greatly improved uplink speed and lower latency for technologies like VoIP.” Wireless LAN is also evolving.
“By 2007, with significantly enhanced wireless performance, range and capacity, coupled with MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out) techniques, a wider bandwidth channel will offer the opportunity to create very powerful yet cost-effective architectures for increasing the mobile data transfer rate.”
Mobile connectivity also means improved collaboration and the ability for people to share ideas. “Ideas happen anywhere; sharing them should be as spontaneous,” says Dousson.
The latest trends in mobile collaboration technologies allow people to move across organisational boundaries and to collaborate with others within any community, at any time and to connect while displaced at any given points.
In 2007, ultra-wide band wireless connectivity – which is a short range high speed device-to-device technology – will make for a more seamless multimedia experience eliminating the clutter and complexity of cables.
“Before the turn of the decade we’ll be using array microphones, which cut through static unlike their corded counterparts. We’re also working on miniaturisation and making projectors more mobile than ever; potentially even building them into notebooks by 2008,” says Dousson.
2008 is also the year pegged for location awareness in mobile devices; making finding your way easier through global positioning satellites and hybrid wireless networks.
True mobility is always on and always ready. However, a consequence of an “always-on” environment is challenging manufacturers to provide a platform for people to work without interruption.
“Power is no longer the mobile user’s first priority” says Dousson.
“In fact, lower power means longer ‘on-life’, which translates to greater mobility. That’s why emerging battery chemistries are a key success factor of mobile computing into the future.”
According to IDC, enhanced productivity, improved customer satisfaction and anywhere access to data and applications are the top three perceived mobility benefits for enterprises.
Currently, battery life in notebooks is typically three to five hours. “It’s interesting to note that LCDs suck up over 30% of a notebook’s battery juice,” Dousson explains.
“By comparison, the computer’s CPU consumes only about 10% of the power, while the graphics and hard drive eat up about 8% each.
“In the next five years, energy-aware displays using OLED display technology and HP logic will mean a substantial reduction in LCD power consumption.
“Even sooner than that, we are likely to see foldable notebook screens and auxiliary displays like those widely used today in cell phones.
“Users will have more instant access to critical information like calendar even when the notebook is off or in a low power state.”
By 2007 lithium oxide blends and new materials are expected to emerge, improving battery capacity by 15% to 20%, equating to around 10 to 15 hours of on-time.
Also, all the hype around fuel cells to recharge notebooks is set to become a reality around the turn of the decade.
“Increasingly advanced fuel cell prototypes are being showcased by HP, which support high end technologies and features that can’t be run on a lithium ion battery.
“Because the fuel cell’s rechargeable element is a small cartridge, users could ditch their extra battery units and AC adapters and instead carry cartridges. We may even look to building the units into the machine,” says Dousson.
According to Bill Gates’ New World of Work, competitive advantage comes from the ability to transform ideas into value.
“Mobility has the power to enhance personal creativity whenever and wherever inspiration hits,” says Dousson.
This year HP’s LightScribe optical media expanded the boundaries of personal creativity. The technology allows users to burn images and laser etch directly to special optical media with their mobile device.
“In under a decade, 3D LCD displays on mobile devices will also add a level of visual interaction to mobile applications that won’t be at all cumbersome to attain,” says Dousson.
True High Definition mobile DVD, with optical disks that expand beyond 25Gb, will be here next year thanks to Blu-Ray technology which has a much shorter wavelength than the red laser technology used in current DVD.
As mobile enterprise solutions emerge, a key evaluation point for users is security. Devices need to be safe and reliable, whether they involve personal information or confidential transactions at work.
“Mobility must never put your data or business at risk,” says Dousson.
“Building on foundation technologies like TPM-embedded security chips, in the next few years we could isolate risky devices before they can threaten the security of the entire corporate network.”
Users can also look forward to virus-safe mobile networking in the next three years. Technologies like active countermeasures and virus throttling don’t look for viruses, but virus-like behaviour and vulnerabilities so that evasive action can be taken without the need for prior knowledge of a virus.
“As business is becoming more transparent, there’s a greater need to ensure accountability, security and privacy within and across organisations,” says Dousson.
This year, mobile-usage-specific security like fingerprint biometrics for user authentication became more mainstream. Facial, handwriting and other biometrics may emerge longer term.
In 2008, Near Field Communication (short range wireless) for secure m-commerce applications could offer alternatives to security tokens like USB and contact-based Smart Cards.
As mobile devices become more diverse, powerful and sophisticated, mobile management is emerging as a vital tool in simplifying mobile operations.
Next year, embedded manageability – with technologies like Intel Active Management – will enable a broader range of manageability use case scenarios, even where the device is off.
“The introduction of mobile hardware virtualisation in 2009 means these operating systems will become easier to deploy in heterogeneous IT environments,” says Dousson.
“The idea is to provide mobile infrastructure as a service – dynamically, so you pay for what you use and you get what you need when you need it.”
The possibilities offered by mobile device management are only just being realised, as new technologies mature and initial deployments take place.
For example, RF (radio frequency) tags will soon become more apparent in making IT asset identification more feasible.
HP OpenView and Federated identity management environments, such as the Liberty Alliance Project that addresses the technical, business, and policy challenges around identity and identity-based Web services, promise a robust ecosystem of identity providers making secure access easier with less complexity.
“We’re on the verge of an era of unparalleled mobile user control,” Dousson says.
“The technology needed to realise the goal of fully mobile computing is rapidly coming together.
“Now, more than ever, competitive advantage comes from the transformation to all things digital, mobile, virtual and personal.”