But as the use of third-party applications grows for smartphones, so too does concern about security--or lack thereof.
At the recent CTIA trade show in Las
Vegas, representatives of the Wi-Fi Alliance-the
marketing body that certifies Wi-Fi devices for interoperability-pulled me
aside for a while to tell me something that I already knew: Wi-Fi is now a must-have
feature on mobile devices, particularly smartphones. But they had some numbers to back that up.
numbers, based on a study by ABI Research conducted in February, indicate that 77 percent of
users of phones with Wi-Fi inside report that they are either "completely" or
"very" satisfied with their device. Of these owners of Wi-Fi-enabled
phones, 74 percent use the Wi-Fi and 77 percent would require the technology be
in their next device.
ABI goes on
to report that 44 percent of smartphones currently have Wi-Fi, with that number
expected to hit 90 percent by 2014. I would actually expect such levels of
penetration to come much sooner because I can think of only one widely promoted
smartphone released in the last six months that shipped without Wi-Fi-the
Of course, I don't pay attention to
every device that comes down the pike, but Wi-Fi integration in smartphones has
definitely come fast and furious. Even Palm-which took forever to get on
board the Wi-Fi bus-is making sure Wi-Fi is in its new devices, whether they are
based on Windows Mobile or on Palm's new WebOS.
Now that I think of it, I'll go
even a step further: My device-an Apple iPhone-would be practically useless
without Wi-Fi. No matter how many commercials I see touting more bars in
more places, AT&T has completely failed to win me over with its network. I
typically get a maximum of two bars of coverage in the places I spend the most
time (home and the office), leaving my iPhone generally untenable for telephony
and good for data primarily because I have provided my own excellent data
coverage in both places via Wi-Fi.
addition, as of this week, I can make outbound VOIP calls over Wi-Fi using
Skype, for which I already have a yearly SkypeOut subscription. Instead of
giving out my AT&T number, I give out my Google Voice (formerly
GrandCentral) number, which routes the call to my iPhone. When the caller
inevitably cannot reach me, Google Voice records the voice mail and transcribes
the message to text, which is sent via e-mail and SMS. Once notified, if
the transcription makes no sense, I can check the message on the Web-over Wi-Fi.
It's a lot
to go through to cover up for AT&T's less-than-stellar coverage, and, yes,
I will likely try out another carrier once my service contract expires.