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5/9/2007
05:18 PM
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Motorola's Ed Zander Sees Phones In The Future

Mobile investments are the ticket, the CEO said, as faster connectivity and improved user experiences make enterprise mobility a competitive opportunity.

Motorola chairman and CEO Ed Zander surprised no one at the Software 2007 Conference this morning by asserting that the future belongs to mobile phones and mobile computing.

"It's happening and it's happening big time," Zander said.

To make his case, he rattled off statistics. Four people are born every second, he pointed out, and, in the same amount of time, 32 mobile phones are sold. There are now 2.7 billion mobile devices in the market, three times as many as the number of cars or PCs.

Particularly for people outside the United States, Zander said, their first use of the Internet is likely to be on a mobile device.

Faster connectivity is key to Zander's vision and he predicted that emerging network protocols would improve the user experience. Using WiMax and LTE, or long-term evolution, for example, a typical MP3 file can be downloaded in as little as 10 seconds. The same file would take two minutes using EV-DO and six minutes using an Edge network. LTE is a project to improve the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System mobile phone standard, one of the 3G mobile phone technologies.

Zander said that large companies would benefit from mobile investments. "Enterprise mobility is going to be a huge opportunity for companies to be more competitive on a mobile basis," he said. He pointed to how FedEx had used mobile devices to shave an average of 10 seconds off every stop, resulting in millions of dollars in savings.

In a Q&A that followed his keynote, Zander conceded that mobility poses a data management challenge to CIOs. Most companies aren't eager to trust their data to outside service providers and phones aren't yet the sort of open platform that IT organizations can control.

Zander also said that security, monetization, and digital rights management issues still need to be resolved before content becomes easily accessible for mobile customers. It remains to be seen whether DRM will prove any more popular for mobile devices than it is for music devices.

Asked how he would deal with Apple and its iPhone, Zander retorted, "How do they deal with us? That's the question." A moment later, perhaps reconsidering his challenge, he said ruefully, "Please don't quote me on that." In an effort to answer the question in a more straightforward manner, he then said, "It's going to reinforce what we've been trying to do."

Clearly eager to have a gadget as talked about as the iPhone, Zander said that Motorola would be showing a device next week that's a "media monster," capable of running video at 30 frames per second off secure digital memory cards pre-loaded with movies.

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