Over the past couple of weeks, as I developed thoughts for my outlook for mobile and wireless in 2010, I was trying to think of a way to describe my overall outlook for 2010. I thought about the economic meltdown during the past year, the layoffs and the stress so many had to experience. The best term I kept thinking of for 2010 was "better": better economy, better job outlook, better notebooks and netbooks, better smartphones, better Internet access devices, and better mobile and wireless services. Overall, it's going to be better.
A year from now, I believe that most people will feel that 2010 was better than 2009. It has to be or we're in big trouble. The economy is likely to improve. And with it we'll see the mobile and wireless market improve: more people will buy or upgrade their phone to one of the latest smartphones, more will buy a notebook, and more will buy software and services used with the mobile device.
For the past few years, I've put together a wish list of things I would like to see happen in the mobile and wireless industry. My objective is to help device vendors, software firms and wireless operators build and offer the best possible mobile and wireless products and services. Here's my wish list for the entire mobile and wireless industry in 2010:
1. Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in every phone
I recently wrote about how ViVOtech has worked to install hundreds of thousands of NFC credit card readers in most major retail outlets. Now, we need to have the cell phone manufacturers add the NFC chip in the phone so that the consumer can select which credit or debit card they want to use and then swipe their phone over the NFC terminal. That will make purchasing through retail faster and more convenient. Consumers won't have to take any card out of their pocket or purse in order to complete the transaction.
I wish some major cell phone manufacturer such as Apple will step up to the plate and integrate NFC hardware and software in their entire line of phones. Once that happens, companies such as FirstData, Visa, MasterCard and third parties will add the necessary infrastructure to enable true mobile commerce in retail.
2. Blocking cell phone use while driving
Companies such as Illume Software and others are helping users to not text while driving. These systems use GPS to make sure you're on a highway (versus a train) and then block the use of the phone when the software detects you're moving more than 10 mph. These systems still allow for emergency use. I certainly wish to see fewer accidents caused by drivers whose attention is diverted from driving safely. I'll be writing more about this in an upcoming column of Inside Mobile.
3. Power in aircraft seats
Now that many airlines have installed AirCell's GoGo Wi-Fi, more and more people are using their netbook and notebook during flights. But batteries rarely last more than two or three hours so most people run out of battery power on longer flights. Some international carriers have installed standard power in the aircraft's seat (typically in business class). I wish that eventually all domestic flights will offer both GoGo Wi-Fi and power adapters in all seats on most flights.
4. Value-added services
Wireless operators have been offering fixed-rate data plans. Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T's Mobility and Consumer Markets, recently reported on the challenges that operators face when smartphone subscribers use ten times the wireless data as non-smartphone users. Operators have to add more capacity, as well as determine how to provide good quality of service (QOS) to the subscriber. The operators may resort to tiered pricing where you'll pay more to download lots of content (such as a movie) or force you to use Wi-Fi for such activities.
Another thing you'll see is a much greater emphasis on value-added services. Take messaging. It's typically fixed at $20 per month. But companies such as FunMail offer operators a service for subscribers that enables the subscribers to compose text messages with graphics. This service costs a little more, which allows the operator to make a little more. This then enables the operator to build more capacity, which simultaneously gives users more service.
The big thing in app stores is the migration to free downloads of the applications and then payment of a monthly fee for the value-added service. Application generators from companies such as Appitize work in this manner and so will many others.