'Smartphone' Era To Start Next Year, Researcher Predicts - InformationWeek

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'Smartphone' Era To Start Next Year, Researcher Predicts

Research firm also predicts that 80 percent of mobile workers will use wireless e-mail within the next three years.

Smartphones will become essential business tools next year and wireless e-mail will become so important that employees will eventually be evaluated on how well they use the technology, market research firm Gartner predicted Wednesday.

Specifically, the firm predicted that more smartphones, which can be used for cellular voice and data and to manage personal information, will be shipped in 2006 than PDAs. PDAs will continue to play a role in the enterprise for use with mobilized applications, according to Gartner, but smartphones will be the device that most mobile users will use from day to day, according to the report.

The study said that it expected 20 million smartphones to ship in 2006 compared to about 13 million PDAs.

The study said that remote access to e-mail is rapidly becoming essential to most businesses. Specifically, it predicted that 80 percent of mobile workers will use wireless e-mail access by 2008.

"The speed at which staff respond to e-mails has a direct impact on organizations' success, now that, on average, a tenth of the messages that arrive each day need immediate action," according to the report. Workers with wireless access to e-mail can have more time to delete spam and prioritize they can cut their response times in half."

The speed taken to respond to important e-mails is becoming so important that many companies will start including it as a factor in employee evaluations, according to the predictions. That will result in fewer automated "out of office" replies and increase reliance on mobile e-mail products.

In other predictions, Gartner said:

  • Mobile e-commerce for applications such as banking will be adopted slowly and will require use of new mobile phones that can work with smart cards. At that, much of the growth of this type of application will occur first in Asia, according to Gartner.

  • About 10 percent of mobile phone users will use their devices to streaming video players and to take pictures. That level of penetration won't occur, however, until 2008 and that there will be virtually no applications for streaming video applications in the enterprise.

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