Cheaper devices and more mobile access options will mean that more people will use more mobile applications. The most popular of these applications is likely to be mobile e-mail. Previously, only early adopters and higher-level executives had mobile e-mail devices like the BlackBerry. But with e-mail-capable smart phones now available for the masses, the masses will start using mobile e-mail.
"BlackBerries used to cost $500 or $600, which made them available mostly to people in the boardroom or high-level employees, where that expense could be justified," Kerton said. "Now, as IT managers are more familiar with mobile e-mail, that brings down the IT challenge. If you add cheaper devices, you have a significant drop in the total cost of ownership. So we're looking at any employee who spends time away from their desk having e-mail access."
Some of that e-mail access will come via enterprise-class server-based applications such as Microsoft Exchange. But Kerton also predicts the rise of services from vendors such as Visto Corp. and Seven Networks Inc. that are being offered by cellular operators to provide easy, no-configuration access to e-mail for nontechnical users.
4. Search and discovery
Advanced mapping applications tied to the ability to track people carrying cell phones will start to catch on in 2007. These technologies build on the inherent ability for cellular operators to know where subscriber phones are.
As a result, we'll see more "child finder" and "buddy finder" applications. This class of applications enable parents to see where their cell-phone-toting children are, for instance.
"It's the parental thing -- 'Where are my kids?' " Kerton said. "Look them up on a map." This capability was first offered in the U.S. by The Walt Disney Co., which runs its own cellular service, but other providers are starting to copy it. The service could just as easily find friends and colleagues on a "buddy list."
Similarly, GPS that's built into cell phones will become increasingly popular, said Scott Smith, a futurist for Washington consulting firm Social Technologies.
"The U.S. has been behind in terms of familiarity with things like GPS in cars," Smith said. "But we're getting to the point where you can walk into a Target store and buy dashboard GPS devices for less money than before. And we'll see it increasingly in mobile phones."
5. Mobility gets social
The social-community-based approach of Web 2.0 will increasingly become part of the mobile landscape in 2007.
"This is the glue that could tie a lot of [applications] together," Smith said. "It could be as simple as mobile MySpace or sharing media with friends. Or it could be mobile blogging."
While these sites are already popular with desktop users, it's taking longer for them to become as big for mobile users, said Ken Dulaney, a Gartner Inc. vice president for mobile computing. Certainly, more powerful mobile devices with larger screens, such as the new generation of inexpensive smart phones, will speed adoption of these newly mobilized applications because such devices make it easier to access such sites.