Tech leaders ponder future of mobile

Jul 21, 2011 by Chris Lefkow
The pace of innovation and change in mobile devices is so dizzying it is difficult to predict the winning platforms and products of the next few years. With that caveat, a panel of technology executives and experts nevertheless took out their crystal balls at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in this Colorado resort to take a glimpse into the mobile future.

The pace of innovation and change in mobile devices is so dizzying it is difficult to predict the winning platforms and products of the next few years.

With that caveat, a panel of technology executives and experts nevertheless took out their crystal balls on Wednesday at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in this Colorado resort to take a glimpse into the mobile future.

Before an audience of movers and shakers from and elsewhere, they looked at trends among smartphones and the fast-growing market for pioneered by Apple's iPad.

"I'd say that whatever we can imagine in this room right now will be possible in five years," said George Colony, founder and chief executive of technology and market research company Forrester.

"Everyone will have smartphones within four years, all over the world, it'll be so cheap," Colony said. "By 2014 we believe that one-third of Americans will own a tablet."

Frank Meehan, founder of handset maker INQ Mobile, repeatedly brought up the futuristic Steven Spielberg film "Minority Report" to describe the possibilities on the horizon for mobile devices.

In the 2002 film, star Tom Cruise notably moves pictures, documents and video around on an interactive screen at lightning speed using just hand motions.

Colony traced the evolution of the for mobile devices to the current touchscreen technology popularized by the and iPad and pondered what might come next.

"Microsoft could take the Kinect technology and that could be the next big change," he said of the motion-sensing from the US software giant.

"If you look back at over 30 years of tech, all of the big changes have come through changes in user interface," Colony said. "Always look to user interface if you want to understand where the thunderstorm will be."

Stephen Hoover, chief executive of PARC, Xerox's legendary research and development unit, said next-generation mobile capability will involve the seamless "integration of the physical and digital worlds."

The pace of innovation and change in mobile devices is so dizzying it is difficult to predict the winning platforms and products of the next few years. With that caveat, a panel of technology executives and experts nevertheless took out their crystal balls at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in this Colorado resort to take a glimpse into the mobile future.

Mobile devices will be able to provide "the information that's most relevant to me now, physically where I am, and in the context of what I'm trying to do," Hoover said.

"We're at the cusp of really being able to integrate all of these different sources of data and understand people's intention in context and give them the information that's useful at the time they need it," he said.

Todd Bradley, executive vice president of US computer giant Hewlett-Packard, agreed and said will possess an ability to deliver what he called a "ubiquitous experience."

He spoke of "the ubiquity of a device that knows I'm at Starbucks and that I read The New York Times when I'm at Starbucks."

The US coffee chain is already allowing patrons in the United States to pay for their lattes with mobile phones, and the Fortune Brainstorm panelists said they expect huge growth over the coming years in mobile payments.

"I actually wonder if the lead in mobile isn't going to come from Asia," said Meehan. "In China, in India, in Indonesia the mobile operator is your source of cash."

Hoover said the increasingly powerful cameras built into phones and tablets will provide all sorts of other opportunities.

"You look at the quality of the cameras today in the device and the power that they have and there's a lot of things you can do with scene recognition," he said.

"I hold up a camera to the sign of the restaurant and get recommendations," Hoover said. "We have that technology today, it's about putting it together."

Explore further: Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mobile TV to come to Taiwanese cell phones

May 17, 2006

Inventec Appliances Corporation and Siano Mobile Silicon signed a deal in Taiwan Tuesday to integrate mobile digital TV receivers into handheld devices.

China's Lenovo creates unit for tablets, mobiles

Jan 18, 2011

Chinese computer giant Lenovo said Tuesday it will create a special unit to create mobile and other Internet-connected devices, as it seeks to grab a bigger slice of the fast-growing market.

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackers of Oman news agency target Bouteflika

Hackers on Sunday targeted the website of Oman's official news agency, singling out and mocking Algeria's newly re-elected president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a handicapped "dictator".

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...