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2017 predictions: PCs push mobile market in new directions

For years it seemed like mobile devices would dictate the future of IT. Mobility is certainly a huge part of what’s next, but it may not be the real trailblazer.

“For the most part the mobile business has slowed down,” said Michael Finneran, principal at dBrn Associates. “I look at it as a plateau. Now [for new features] we get a couple megapixels on a camera.”

The real bellwether for the future of end-user computing in 2017 may actually be hybrid PCs and Windows 10.

“[It’s] a little bit ironic in that the PCs might fuel some development in the mobile space instead of mobile devices influencing what happens in the PC market,” agreed Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

Windows 10 Mobile hasn’t really caught on, but the desktop version of the OS has a real shot at making waves in the mobile world. Jack Narcotta, senior analyst at Technology Business Research, for example, sees a product such as HP Inc.’s Elite x3 hybrid tablet — which he calls “a legit Windows device” — as a great indicator of where Windows could push the mobile market.

“[It’s] providing a reference design for what an enterprise mobile device should be like,” Narcotta said. “Yes you can talk on it, but it’s not a smartphone. Yes you can use it as a tablet, but it’s not a tablet. Yes you can use it as a PC, but it’s not just a PC.”

Plus, with this kind of universal device, IT doesn’t have to worry about managing multiple devices for every user.

Windows 10’s Continuum feature, which reorients devices depending on the presence of a keyboard, also looks like it will leave a large footprint in 2017.

“My phone or my phablet or a small tablet can be my main compute and storage and connectivity engine,” Moorhead said. “I do think we’ll see an Android version of this as well.”

This year, it really comes down to delivering a consistent user experience across device types. Users expect to be able to hop from their phones to their tablets to their PCs and not miss a beat as they work with different applications.

“It doesn’t have to be a smartphone; it could be a Chromebook, it could be a light PC, [but] making sure the user experience is as consistent as possible [is crucial],” Narcotta said.

The mobile market might be slowing down, particularly in terms of major hardware advances, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t evolving. In 2017, the catalyst for change might just come from unexpected places.

Read more 2017 predictions from these experts in the November/December issue of Modern Mobility.

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