This year will see phones organized around contact lists, an upsurge in video-on-demand, social networking as a primary means of communication, people tracking each other via GPS and smart phones as all-in-one entertainment hubs, according to Telus Corp.’s chief futurist.
Phones will centre on the contacts, not the functions
“Phones will no longer be organized around its functions, but holistically around your contacts,” states David Neale, chief futurist and senior vice-president of strategic content and services at Telus, in his five predictions for mobile trends for the coming year, released recently.
Neale foresees seamless communication with contacts across applications, including the ability to view interactions with contacts without switching apps. “It’s not about tasks anymore, it’s about people, so instead of categorizing communications by function such as text, voice and e-mail, smart phone interactions will be centred around your contacts,” he states.
Video-on-demand will become the norm
Neale also expects more flexibility in how, where and when users access video. “Video-on-demand is about to take over … the Internet and broadband access will be the popular way consumers will enjoy television programming and entertainment of all kinds – available when you want it, where you want it, over television and the Internet,” he states.
Social networking will become a primary means of communication
Neale sees social networks becoming a primary means of communication and smart phones as the devices that will bring all of the various channels together into one place. “It doesn’t matter if you’re communicating with someone through Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or IM – it’s all streamlined,” he states.
GPS will track your contacts in real time
The “Where are you?” question will become a thing of the past, according to Neale. “Advanced social networking mediums and GPS-based applications now allow you to pinpoint the location of your contacts in real-time, adding a deeper dimension to social networking,” he states. Neale expects new ways of connecting with contacts as a result.
Smart phones will become hubs for user entertainment
Neale anticipates secondary smart phone functions, such as the cameras and music players, will become just as important as communications. “Phones will go from being devices you ‘could’ use as music players or cameras to the ‘all-in-one entertainment hub’ where you can acquire and play your favourite music while capturing memories in high resolution on built-in cameras,” he states.
The predictions are slightly generic and highlight trends that are already taking place, according to Jayanth Angl, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Ltd. “I don’t think I disagree with the predictions. I think in many cases we already see this happening,” he said.
People are already looking at their smart phones as communications devices and making contact via text or e-mail just as commonly as by phone call, he pointed out. “I think we are seeing a lot of that, especially in the business space,” he said.
Like Neale, Angl also expects increased interconnection between social networks. Businesses in particular should consider how they can make better use of these resources to improve their communication and collaboration within their organization, he suggested.
People already have devices that serve as an all-in-one music player, camera and phone, said Angl. “That might be a prediction for 2010, but the iPhone came out in 2007. I think we are already seeing these devices today and they are already becoming more prevalent,” he said.
But GPS-based applications, which are becoming more prevalent in the enterprise space, do represent a lot of opportunities for future growth, according to Angl. “An area where we can expect a lot more in the next year or two is location-based services and that is something that comes down to the device and the network,” he said.
The predictions are also “very complimentary to what Telus is probably is going to be trying to do in 2010,” said Angl.
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