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13
Feb
2011

The name of the game is - mobile platform

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Written by Vedran Dakic   

NokiaA couple of years ago, it was all about desktop computers. Then, the tsunami of mobile computers came along and washed away something that seemed indestructible. "People will always need PC". Desktops lasted for what, 10, 15, 20 years. Notebook computers-mania lasted much shorter - for 5-7 years. And right now, everything is turning on its head yet again. But for the first time, it's not the computers turning IT around - it's mobile devices.

In January at CES, you could see a lot of new stuff coming to the market - 4G phones, NVIDIA's Tegra 2 becoming a massive success being chosen as the launch platform for Honeycomb (Android 3.0). Since January, quite a few products based on Tegra 2 made it to the market - for example, LG Optimus 2X and Motorola Xoom. Is this the type of device that will rule the mobile universe for the next period?

I mean, they're pretty powerful, and the industry has been moving in the mobile way for quite awhile now. Tegra 2 does a lot of things, and does them very, very well, up to a point where it can replace your netbook, mobile phone, gaming platform and HTPC. You can have quite a bit of storage (for example, 64GB) in a mobile phone, connect it to your HDTV via mini-HDMI and watch a movie. It just can't be any easier and more "low-profile" in terms of space consumption then that. This seems to be one of the the key aspects of the overall show - integration. Whoever manages to stuck more stuff in and integrate more functions - wins. It's as simple as that.

The only problem I personally see with this approach is mobile connection. And by that, I mean any kind - 3G, 4G or wireless.

With all of the changes happening and cloud computing growing stronger, you can safely assume that soon mobile manufacturers will introduce some cloud-based services that will enable mobile smartphone users to do advanced stuff on their phones. For example, upload something somewhere to the cloud, cloud does some work on the data, and returns data back. But this would be frustratingly slow in general as the mobile connections are still too slow for that. And there's not an awful lot of mobile operators supporting it, as well. We can discuss theoretical numbers all we want but the fact remains that in practice, these mobile protocols are still too slow to compete.

Imagine having a storage somewhere in the cloud, and trying to access it from your mobile phone to watch - for example - a H.264 video. I mean, Tegra 2 can decode 1080p video - H.264 included - and encode it, too. Mobile connection will still be too slow for that. Wireless connections are also too slow for that. You come to a point where the network - which should be the most benevolent part of the whole platform - gives you headaches and slows down something that you want to do. And on top of that, mobile data exchange is still way, way too expensive. And you can't expect people to constantly connect their mobile phones to their computers so they can transfer content to it as this kills the purpose of a mobile smartphone of that level. Super-smartphone, whatever you want to call it. It's just not feasible. People will - at least as long as mobile connections don't grow in speed (and grow a lot) - have to have computers either way. If you look at it from the "transition" point of view - so, new technology coming in, you get used to it, then you remove the old technology in the next iteration - that's kind-of ok. It's not completely OK as market needs are different today then they were just a few years ago and people expect the industry to move faster. It's moving fast, all right,
but all of the "surrounding" things need to move fast, as well.

Having used Nokia's smartphones for the better part of the last decade, this seems like a perfect case in point. Symbian was fine - until iOS and Android came along. Unfortunately, Nokia didn't react fast enough - which is kind of sad - and ended up where it is now. Other platforms eating its market share very fast and going the Windows Phone way as there seems to be too many players on the Android market already. The only thing is - this isn't the first time that it happened. BlackBerry - both as a platform and service - grew increasingly popular in the business community as it offered something Nokia couldn't. It was the "overall service" bundle, not
hardware or platform per se, but a lot of people still use BlackBerry devices to this day. Yeah, up to a certain point, you could mix 'n' match that by installing BlackBerry Connect software, but Nokia discontinnued that, as well. Unfortunately, a tad too late.

Personally, I love the fact that there seems to be an awful lot of competition on the market right now, as competition inspires progress and innovation. Companies like Motorola that seemed out in terms of mobile business got their second chance and - embraced it. Whatever happens - it will be a gigantic fight for sure. Can't wait to see the resolution...

 

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