While handhelds don't have much in the way of market share (compared with PCs, at least), cell phones do. There's something like a billion cell phones in use worldwide, and in the next few years most of us will toss out our small-screen models for fancy phones with color screens, mini-mousepads, and newer, better versions of Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition that will support serious business applications. These phones of the future may well become integral parts of the IT infrastructure.
Tony Davis, CEO of Tira Wireless, a mobile application publisher in Toronto, says there already are companies that have extended their IT infrastructure to include cell phones. "It's technically possible to do now, but it's niches targeting pretty cumbersome devices like the PocketPC and Palm-based platforms."
Davis thinks that within two years, IT departments will routinely deploy business applications to cell phones.
There's also a trend toward converged phone and PDAs, a market that has long tantalized vendors but turned off some potential customers. That's likely to change now that products like the Handspring Treo 600, a combination Palm device and phone, are reaching maturity. The Treo 600 "is the first converged voice/data device you really would use as your phone and as your data device," says Danny Shader, CEO of Good Technology.
There've been so-called converged devices for several years, and Gregg Grossman, president of executive recruiter Vantage Point Associates in New York, started using them when they first arrived, in the form of a Kyocera phone with a Palm operating system. Grossman, who now uses the Treo 300, a predecessor of the Treo 600, says he still needs his notebook for presentations, but "80%, maybe more, of what I need I can do using this phone."
Return to main story, Tech Guide: Beyond Mobility: The New Notebooks
Illustration by Doug Ross