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Mobile trends outlook for 2008

Mobile trends for 2008 are forecast by Craig Mathias.

With the beginning of the year here already, I thought this would be a good time to look forward through 2008 with a few fearless predictions about what the New Year will bring to mobile and wireless. In no particular order --

  • Picking the best tool for the job -- automatically
    It's often tempting to think that a single radio, of any form, will be all one needs to be wireless. Alas, range is the key parameter in the design of any radio, with a corresponding data rate that varies with range and other radio-related artifacts like building construction and antenna orientation. But there are other considerations, like availability, pricing, and handset and other device support. More importantly -- no matter what -- it is impossible to rely on the availability of any given service in any given location. No single radio can do it all.

    Double check the expert on predictions for and the happenings of 2007.
    See if Craig Mathias' predictions for 2007 hit the mark!

    And read up on Craig's wrap-up of top happenings in mobility during 2007.
    While the carriers will make good progress in 2008 on obtaining more spectrum (via the upcoming FCC 700 MHz auctions) and in continuing to build out their networks, I think the combination of Wi-Fi and cellular will prove more interesting than ever. A variety of enterprise-class convergence solutions are shipping and will continue to see additional features and performance in 2008, and I think you'll even see some carriers get interested in putting equipment into enterprise customers, as opposed to offering only services. Technologies that increase the in-building reach of carrier networks, including femtocells, microcells and distributed antenna systems, will also have a good year in 2008. The cellular/Wi-Fi link will grow stronger, and eventually you won't know which of these you're using at any given moment.

  • Continuing device diversity -- with better battery life
    We will see convergence in networks, but diversity will reign in subscriber units. Open access certainly helps here, as do open platforms. While most users will stick with the traditional flip-phone, candy bar and PDA form factors, expect broad variety within each of these and a few wild ones as well.

    But as we ask more of our handhelds, battery life becomes an even greater concern than it is already. While I think I'll always recommend buying a spare battery with any new mission-critical mobile purchase, we'll see some clever engineering solutions to the battery-life problem, including chips that are much more power-efficient, improvements in power-saving wireless protocols, and even the use of new components like supercapacitors to get the most out of every charge.


  • A renewed interest in Web services
    But keep in mind that -- as we try to cram more functionality into mobile devices -- battery life isn't the only element that takes a hit. Also under pressure are size, weight and fundamental complexity. Do we really want our handhelds to become as cumbersome as PCs to use and, perhaps more importantly, as challenging to manage? In opposition to ever-more-powerful and -expensive handsets, I think Web services will have a great year in 2008. Let's move information, data management and computing to the other side of the link, where they belong. Sure, we'll need (and want) to run a small number of personal-productivity applications locally, but much of what we do will be via wireless Web services on devices that are cheaper, simpler and have better battery life. In 2008, it's going to be significantly about the data, not just all about the device.'s top news stories and tips of 2007
Top 10 mobile news exclusives of 2007

Top mobile tips of 2007

 Let me close with a wish rather than a projection. I think we've all become fairly tired of products that ship before their time and of products that require detailed manual-reading and/or experimentation before productivity is realized. I think it's time for engineers, programmers and management across the vendor hierarchy to realize that though their customers may be a bit more technical than the general population, we are all just trying to get our jobs done. When technological complexity gets in the way, it's time to do something other than call Tech Support. We can and should vote with our pocketbooks -- and our feet.

The future of wireless and mobile has never been brighter or more interesting -- or more important to individuals, enterprises and organizations of all types everywhere. Mobility really is the future, not just of computing and communications but all of IT itself. More on that next year -- for now, my best wishes to all of you for the holidays and a very exciting new year!


Craig Mathias

About the author: Craig Mathias is a principal with Farpoint Group, an advisory firm based in Ashland, Mass., specializing in wireless networking and mobile computing. The firm works with manufacturers, enterprises, carriers, government, and the financial community on all aspects of wireless and mobile. He can be reached at

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