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The dawn of a new era in mobility

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Mobility has come of age, writes Heinz Stephan, Comztek consumer electronics
business unit director. We all thought that the introduction of the notebook
would make us more mobile, yet many of us still spend most of our time
working on our notebook at our desks.

However, a new dawn has arrived with the advent of smart phones and personal
digital assistants (PDAs), which mimic the accessibility and processing
power of a computer close enough to make portability a realisation.
Mobile devices have evolved from text-based systems with limited application
ability. Over the past two years, the radical move by cellular phone
manufacturers to turn mobile phones into portable computers has increased
the availability of applications on mobile phones, which were previously
limited to desktop or notebook computers.
Today, applications are being developed with mobile technology in mind. Many
portable software systems are fully compatible with mobile devices.
Other major factors causing a revolution in the mobile market include the
evolution in processor design, performance and the operating systems that
mobile devices run on. Plus, content delivery to mobile devices is now
customised to the specific device. All of this is making usability of mobile
devices easier.
Also, a previous impediment to productive portability was the speed of
connectivity. However, the introduction of 3G and HSDPA has solved this
challenge.
In addition, companies are spending more time ensuring they have backend
infrastructure in place to facilitate mobile users. Most company network
infrastructure has matured. With the correct network infrastructure in place
and improved broadband infrastructure, companies are finding it easier to
link mobile devices to the network through the Internet and virtual private
networks.
As a result, employees that spend the majority of their time on the move now
have a greater ability to source and productively use the content on their
company's network.
Does this mean the end to the notebook, or even the desktop? Not really.
Although much of business and transacting today is done in the form of email
and on the Internet, it will be some time before these mobile devices
replace the notebook or desktop. There are still some challenges to be
ironed out.
Some applications, however smart, are extremely difficult to deliver to
mobile devices in a true user-friendly interface due to the interface size.
Also, the user interface will remain a limiting factor when it comes to
running larger business productivity applications.
So, while the readiness of cellular providers to capture a significant
proportion of the data market and the consequent reduction in the cost of
accessing data through a mobile device is driving market growth, a smart
phone or PDA will not replace a computer.
However, these devices hold great potential. They already assist in
productivity by allowing us to communicate in a number of ways more quickly.
And the promise of the PDA as an intelligent device, utilising connectivity
to best advantage, is something to look forward to.