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June - 2008 - issue > CEO Spot Light
Mobiles as Real Personal Devices
Shankar Narayanan
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Spime is a technology provider and a development partner for companies in the GPS, Navigation, Identification, and Near Field Communication device manufacturers, Software System and application providers, Mobile Operators, and Mobile and Consumer Electronics Device Manufacturers. Based in Silicon Valley, the company has its R&D center in Chennai, India.

The wireless industry, specific to mobile phone, is really moving to a paradigm shift from the basic and simple voice device to an all-in-one device. When will your mobile phone cease to be called a mobile phone? When will voice become just one of the daily used features of the device, will it happen soon? Yes, it will definitely happen soon. But how soon? Approximately between 2015-2020, by which time your mobile phone will not remain a ‘mobile phone’ but will be called something, may be a ‘Personal Device’ (PD).

The PD will be a music player, both still and video camera with player, Internet device, mobile TV, GPS system, location intelligence system with location-based services, and then finally a financial transaction system (credit card). These are all not science fiction stuff, it is real and it already exists as islands in select spots and is used by different user bases at different geographies. It is no prophecy to say that all these will be integrated into one device at some point of time, but it is highly complex and difficult to make an all-in-one mass-market device. That said, music and camera are already commonplace in mobile phones. In the next 2 years, Internet and GPS will become common phenomena. More people will be using the Internet through mobile phone than through personal computers. Mobile TV, though it is already available, will take another 3-5 years to become a common feature. Location-based services will become a major revenue driver for the mobile industry starting 2009 and it will be reaching its peak by 2012. You can expect your PD becoming your electronic wallet by 2015 as a common feature.

What will drive all these to happen? Expected mobile phone sales in 2008 is 1.3 bn units, by 2012 it will be close to 2 bn, showing that more consumers are adopting mobile phones, which is a good sign for the mobile industry. Second, the continuing reduction in the cost of components and production will make it possible to add more features at an affordable cost to the common man. Look at the communication silicon providers where it is already happening; they have started integrating WiFi, Bluetooth, and now GPS in one single module. Third, more consumer friendly features and business friendly applications will be available that will make better user experience and will increase the productivity of individuals and businesses.

What is the challenge here? Mobile Internet traffic is going to be much more than the PC Internet traffic and bandwidth is going to be a major constraint. Mobile operators and Internet infrastructure companies should jointly address this to make wireless industry successful, let’s hope for the best!

The author is CEO at Spime.
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