The growth of wireless computing belongs to the smartphone, a powerful device that extends the superb voice functionality of a mobile phone into the realm of data communications. From inception, it has been Symbianís mission to supply operating systems that enable a mass market for enhanced communications and information services based on mobile phones. Already, Symbian OS is the industryís standard choice for feature-rich phones that not only can handle calendars, contacts, messaging, email and Web browsing, but that can also integrate with virtually any enterprise information system.
Though the market has already embraced smartphones, with over ten million of them sold in 2003, most people donít fully grasp the impact that they will have on working life as these devices become more pervasive. For the enterprise, smartphones will have an impact on par with that of mobile telephony itself. Most of us already take for granted our ability to place and receive voice calls from anywhere at any time. But few of us yet take advantage of instantly having any data we wish at any time from that very same mobile phone.
The implications are far reaching. For business travelers (or even managers and other workers that spend a lot of time away from their desks) it will mean having access to time-sensitive data and the ability to ďstay in touchĒ with work teams on important issues in a manner that hasnít previously been possible. This is readily achieved by delivering email, web access and instant messaging directly to the userís phone. For a sales person, it will mean instant access to inventory, shipment status and current pricing information directly from client locations. For a real estate agent it will mean immediate notification of a new property that meets a customerís desires and the ability to instantly convey that information to the customer, even to show them a picture of the property. For a project manager, it will mean immediate communication of project details among team members and dynamic rescheduling of tasks.
All these tasks have been possible for the last decade using laptops with wireless modems and many companies have utilized such an approach for vertical market solutions. What is fundamentally different now is that it is possible for every worker to affordably have a smartphone without the additional cost and inconvenience of another dedicated wireless data terminal. And whereas laptops with wireless modems are bulky, have a long boot up time, require the worker to be seated, and are not always readily accessible, smartphones are small, always on, available while standing or walking and as easily available to the worker as their mobile phone. And even while out of network coverage, the smartphone provides for local operation of applications and local storage of data. This is a major advance over previous browser-only approaches.
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