The past two years have been exciting ones for mobility, with the dawn of netbooks, 4G communications, and the first smartphones without keypads. The next two should be just as attention-grabbing, if not more so, as a slew of new technologies make workers more productive on the road.
Last year, for the first time, notebooks outsold desktop computers, according to iSuppli Corp., a tech analyst firm, showing that the move to a mobile lifestyle is under way. "It's just the start," observes Steve Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner Inc. "2009 and 2010 will be big years for mobility, with major advances coming that will affect what we carry and how we work and play."
I went in search of what the face of mobility might look like in 2010 and came away optimistic that the world will be a better and easier place for mobile workers to get their jobs done. After talking to a dozen analysts, engineers, and marketing types -- sorry, no fortune tellers -- and sifting through a mountain of technical material, it became clear that these advances are just the beginning of what could be the start of a golden age of mobility, where work gets done wherever you might be.
On top of more powerful small notebooks with better batteries and faster data access, there will be high-powered smartphones, as well as two high-speed wireless networks to choose from that will deliver broadband speeds on demand. Here are five areas that may quickly change the face of mobility.
The big story in 2008 was the rise of the netbook from a marketing idea to sales of 14 million units, according to Austin-based DisplaySearch's estimate of year-end sales. But while these tiny notebooks work well as a second or third computer, they lack the performance needed for a primary work system.
That will change quickly later this year, when netbooks start shipping with Intel's dual-core Atom processor. The Model 330 Atom processor has a pair of computational cores -- like the Core 2 Duo chips -- for churning through heavy-duty work. Right now, computer makers are sampling the chip and integrating it into a new generation of netbooks and other products.