Three Upcoming Cell Phone Technologies

CES 2009 is long gone but the technologies on display there still have a ways to go before they end up in your pocket. Many companies opt for upgrades and new procurement in the summer, so while tech reporters look into the future in January, office managers are more likely to have new technology in mind now. What’s coming up? How will it influence your telecom expense management? Let’s look at three upcoming technologies from that point of view.

Built in Projectors: Cell phone projectors have actually been on the market for a while. Until recently they’ve belonged to phones that were either a little on the chunky side or were primarily destined for Asian markets. LG demonstrated the technology this year, and it’s expected to roll out for broad consumer use by next year. Would this type of phone work in a corporate cell phone plan? Maybe. It may look like a toy for long car trips, but it has definite applications as a go-anywhere tool for presentations. The only drawback is that it will be a definite battery hog.

Netbook/Phone Convergence: Smartphones have eclipsed PDAs as the go-to mobile data tool and as time passes, they’re starting to embrace their role as computers, rather than just phones with extras. The iPhone and BlackBerry drove this paradigm shift, but mobile computing is also being served by netbooks. It seems inevitable that a hybrid device will soon become your standard companion for email, Web access and business data. Sony’s rolling out a new line of VAIO netbooks (netbooks are mini-notebook computers designed primarily for web surfing and basic office functions) with GSM capability. Will consumers opt for netbooks with phone features, or phones with netbook features? With movement in both directions it seems clear that a device with full featured cell phone and netbook capabilities will be offered by major carriers in a year or so.

If your company has mobile computing and cellular needs, this is going to be a major game changer when it comes to cellular expense management planning – and of course, every carrier will need robust wireless networks that can handle the bandwidth. Given the issues that have already come up with the iPhone’s heavy bandwidth use, this may be the one sticking point.

Wireless Charging: While the other technologies we’ve talked about will mature by next year, wireless charging looks like it will hit the mainstream now with the Palm Pre. One of this smartphone’s core accessories is a wireless power dock called the Touchstone. Just place the Pre on it and it will automatically begin charging. CES also featured demonstrations of the Powermat, which charges any device with a special adapter whenever you place it on the surface. Close range wireless power has actually been around for a century, but 100 years ago the average person wasn’t carrying a power hungry phone and media player around and the charging equipment wouldn’t have fit on a typical office desk.

Unlike the other two technologies in this article, wireless charging probably won’t have a direct impact on business, though it will probably provide some hidden savings by removing the nuisance of wires. In an office environment, this one is probably an executive perk – but given its elegance, it would be a welcome one.