Slideshow: Apple iPhone 4, A True Teardown
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8. Video Chat Goes Mainstream
Apple may have popularized the idea of mobile video chats with the iPhone 4's FaceTime application, but its use is hardly widespread. To date, Apple has not enabled FaceTime to work outside of Wi-Fi zones. That means no real-time video chatting from out in the real world, where stuff tends to happen. Instead, users are limited to FaceTime-ing from their homes, hotel rooms, or other places that offer Wi-Fi. Qik, Fring, ooVoo, and Skype also provide video chatting services, but the interoperability of this software is limited, as is the platform support.
Apple has offered to open source the code it uses for FaceTime, though so far none of Apple's competitors have stepped up to take advantage of it. Well, one of them has to, and it will probably be Google. Google's Android platform is already more pervasive than Apple's iPhone. Despite the competition between the two companies for control of the mobile landscape, this is one time when it will be best for the end users if the companies involved agree to work together to get it working properly.
If Google (and others) agree to take this step, then video chatting will really take off.
9. Tablet Competition Takes Off
The availability of tablet computers is limited to just a few models at the time of this writing. By the end of the first quarter, there should be at least a handful more, and by mid-2011 tablets will be available from many of today's leading hardware makers.
Apple kicked things off in 2010 with the iPad, and was eventually followed by Samsung with the Galaxy Tab. Research In Motion, Motorola, and HP are all expected to debut tablets of their own. The RIM tablet will run a new operating system based on QNX and Adobe's AIR/Flash. The Motorola tablet will run Android 3.0 Honeycomb. And the HP tablet will run WebOS.
More than offering variation in hardware, consumers and professionals alike will have plenty of choice when it comes to mobile operating systems on said tablets. There will be at least four in the market. Will all of them survive? Too early to tell. We'll see the first real wave of iPad-competitors arrive early in the year, with Apple expected to up the tablet ante by April. Likely, 2011 will become known as the "Year of the Tablet."