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TECH TALK: The Mobile Phone Platform: The Next Platform?

February 18th, 2005 · No Comments

Will the mobile phone become the next platform like the computer? This, according to me, is a narrow question and focuses only on the device. What is important is to consider a view of the world that is based around services rather than devices. In that context, I dont think it is possible to think of the mobile phone in isolation from the rest of the computing, communications and content world.

What is inside todays desktop computer will move to the server and what is inside a cell phone will power tomorrows network computer. The networks will be IP-based. Voice will become yet another service over these digital networks. The mobile phone will be our constant companion, and will be complemented by the availability of network computers with large screens.

Services will occupy centre-stage. From commPuting to computainment to communicontent, it will be a world that will converge at the back-end (server-side) but will diverge at the front-end (multiple devices). While there will be no convergence across these screens, the convergence will happen at the back-end with respect to the data store. We will have different views to the same set of data across these devices. Today, this is not the case all three devices have their own private worlds they operate on.

What I see happening is integrated access to our data and desktop across the three screens that are present in our life. The future will be about data on servers accessible across multiple devices. In developed markets, the screens will be those of the TV or Game Console or PC or mobile phone. In emerging markets (especially for the next users), I think it will just two screens a multimedia-enabled network computer on desktops at home and work, and the mobile phone. What matters are the services that are delivered to the users.

Service-centric computing is a form of computing (used in a broad sense like information processing) which is focused more around the users real world rather than the cyberspace. It has a common back-end store to store the users context (time, place, information, people). It allows a user to do five actions independent of device on the same data store: publish (write), subscribe (read), search, alerts and share. It thus breaks the artificial barriers which separate the user from his data by actually separating data store from the service functions, we make the data more accessible.

While the mobile phone is likely to have a much larger user base than computers in emerging markets for some time to come, there are tasks for which the computer is ideally suited and the inherent limitations of the cellphone become obvious. But that in no way diminishes its use or capability as a personal device. Thus, even as the computer provides access to the world outside, the mobile phone provides us a view of our world. Both are needed and important in their own place.


TECH TALK The Mobile Phone Platform+T

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