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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why SmartPhones Are Getting Smarter - Handheld Power Increase Exponentially

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Mini E10i Unlocked Smartphone with 5 MP Camera, Android OS, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth--International Version with Warranty (Black/Red)
Sony Ericsson XPERIA
That gadget you’re carrying around on your belt is much more than a phone: In effect, you have clipped to your person a palmsized device with more computing power than the desktop computer you were using a couple of years ago. In fact, making a telephone call is only one of the things you can do with it—and odds are that it’s not even the most important or missioncritical thing.

So just how “smart” are today’s smartphones? And why are they getting smarter so quickly?

Users Demand Ubiquitous Connectivity
Neil Mawston, director of global wireless practice for Strategy Analytics, Ltd., notes that users’ expectations, fueled by powerful, easy-to-use home and office computers, is a primary driver: “The global smartphone market is computerizing. Consumers and corporations want desktop-class features and services on their cell phones. Mobile users want smarter phones with more sophisticated hardware and expandable software.”

The bottom line is that both consumers and corporate users are used to having 24/7 access to email, social networking, and Internet browsing at home and in the office, and they expect to have access to those same services in their cars or on a walk around the block.

On the supply side, there’s an obvious profit motive, says Mawston: “Operators want smarter phones because they need to drive 3G data usage higher and develop fresh revenue streams beyond voice and SMS. Handset makers want smarter phones because they need to increase their selling prices and raise profit  margins.” Thus, companies such as Apple, Google, and AT&T are helping to drive the computerization of the cell phone industry.

The Power Curve Accelerates
We can measure smartphone power by examining some of the same criteria we use to evaluate any other computer. A quick look at the specs of past and current devices is illuminating.

Memory. The Palm Treo 650, arguably the first non-BlackBerry smartphone with a meaningful level of corporate acceptance, had 32MB of RAM. Last year’s Motorola Droid offered 256MB, while the new Droid X has 512MB of RAM. That’s a significant increase in memory: 1500% over the past few years.

Processing power. The Treo 650’s Intel XScale processor ran at about 312MHz, the Motorola Droid’s Texas Instruments OMAP CPU at 550MHz. The Motorola Droid X also runs a TI OMAP, but the new CPU is clocked at 1GHz.

Storage. The Treo 650 offered 23MB of storage plus SD card expansion; a few years later, the Motorola Droid came with 256MB of permanent storage plus expansion options. With the release of the Motorola Droid X, storage skyrocketed to 8GB plus expansion.

But Is It Still A Phone?
When evaluating the power and utility of a smartphone, there are many other important considerations,
of course: hardware limitations, display capabilities, accessory availability, ports and connectors, input mechanisms, UI, etc. But no matter how you slice it, today’s smartphones are more than just smart; they’re powerful computational and communicative tools on which we’ve come to depend.

They are, in effect, small computers that happen to be able to make phone calls.

“Many of today’s high-end smartphones can already be considered handheld computers, as they pack more processing power and memory than desktop PCs of yesteryear,” says Alex Spektor, an analyst in Strategy Analytics’ Wireless Device Strategies service group. “Nokia, for example, refers to its Maemo Linux powered N900 smartphone as a ‘mobile computer.’”

In reality, there are some ways in which smartphones are even more powerful than computers. “Phones are always with their users and can leverage contextual information (such as, for example, location) to deliver more compelling applications and services,” notes Spektor. And they’re about to become even more powerful.

What’s Next?
Cloud phones. A new high-performance mobile communications interface called LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the leading contender for becoming the dominant 4G cellular network technology. Among other things, 4G high-bandwidth networks will encourage the emergence of what are being called “cloud phones”—thin-client mobile devices that can perform Herculean feats of processing, mainly because much of that processing is actually offloaded to cloud-based platforms.

Cloud phones are a disruptive technology that may be somewhat threatening to vendors. But, as with any disruptive technology, the change also represents a tremendous opportunity for new products, new services, and new markets.

The MEMS gyroscope. Apple’s iPhone 4 may be the first smartphone to include a MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) gyroscope—a nanoscale device used to detect or maintain orientation of the apparatus in which it is embedded. In effect, it’s a microchip that can act much like the gimbaled devices historically used to help steer and stabilize airplanes and ships.

Why put a gyroscope in a phone? Well, first, forget that it’s a phone—as we’ve seen, it’s much more than that; it’s a computer that happens to be able to communicate with other computers. Think instead about scenarios in which determining the orientation of the device might be important. Consider some of the what ifs: What if you could simply tilt or rotate the phone to switch between menus or make menu selections? (The handset’s UI would thus become a one-handed operation rather than a two-handed one. Imagine how smudge-free your screen would be if you could pan and zoom by moving the handset, rather than by “pinching” the screen.) What if the handset were acting, temporarily, as a Wii-style game controller? What if the device could recognize gestures—and use them to “air sign” a document, authenticate a security check, control a 3D mouse, or operate a television? What if the device could tell that you had just fallen—and
what if it could measure the impact of the fall and make note of the fact that after a minute or two you had not gotten up? (Might you have programmed the handset to call for help in such a case?)

This sort of handset functionality is not science fiction; it’s currently being built or already in use, and applications such as these are about to open up a whole new world of smartphone productivity, as the device makes a quantum leap forward in terms of power, application, and efficiency. As smart as it is, your smartphone is about to get even smarter.

Then What?
 It’s difficult to say just how smart your smartphonecan get. If much of its processing can be handled in the cloud, and if onboard processing power, memory and storage continue to grow— and if the device can contain an array of positional sensors such that it constantly knows its location and attitude— then there’s almost no limit to how powerful these devices can become. It’s perfectly reasonable to envision a day, not very far in the future, when your phone is your computer: You carry it with you and simply dock it at your desk to interface it with larger input and display devices, and then grab it and go whenever you happen to leave your desk. It doesn’t get any smarter than that. Or perhaps it does.▲

BlackBerry 8703e PDA Smartphone in Mint Condition for Verizon Wireless with No Contract

Samsung Fascinate Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

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