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Consumerization, cloud computing and HTML 5: The future of the smartphone

"Smartphone" author Majeed Ahmad discusses present and future smartphone trends, including growing consumerization, democratization in the IT world, cloud computing and HTML 5. CIOs and other information technology buyers in the enterprise can examine how smartphones are affecting business.

Today, the smartphone and other consumer-related mobile technologies are spurring development of enterprise-integrated applications and middleware for those devices. Majeed Ahmad – author of the new book, Smartphone – discusses growing trends such as consumerization, cloud computing and HTML 5 in smartphones and mobile technologies. Read the first part of this interview for a discussion of the evolution of the smartphone.

As mobile technologies make their way into the workplace more and more, what does this mean for CIOs and other IT decision makers? Is desktop computing as we know it really on its way out?

Ahmad: Smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets operating within the smartphone-driven ecosystems will continue to become more pervasive by the day, and that means the PC will no longer be the center of the IT universe. That’s because services in the communications, commerce and location realms, as well as apps, are inherently more suited to mobile platforms. The PC, however, with physical attributes like screen size, data input and battery life, won’t be passé any time soon, especially as a content creation device.     

When it comes to IT consumerization, the smartphone is in fact a key enabler. First, it’s bringing computing to a whole new era of economy of scale by making portable computers available to a much larger audience at more affordable price points. The advent of mobile cloud computing could further boost the IT consumerization trend as cloud will transform ordinary feature phones into smartphones and take apps reach and power to a whole new level. Beyond computing, smartphones let consumer products like cameras and video seamlessly integrate on mobile platforms, and this took IT consumerization to a whole new level. But most crucial of all, it’s the power of apps that will change IT landscape and bring a new era of democratization in the IT world.      

SSQ: Would you elaborate on the role of applications in enterprise-ation of mobile devices?

Ahmad: There are two dimensions to this. 1) About 10 years ago, PDAs came forward as the ultimate enterprise machines. They didn’t go so far because the application landscape was limited. Smartphones will change that. They have access to thousands of applications. Each company can deal with apps for the workforce while they [the workers] are out in the field, which has enormous effects on productivity. In terms of application breadth and depth, with smartphones we can access the cloud and thousands of apps there. Once the cloud expands the horizon, and all people can get smartphones in their hands and have access to apps (most of which are free), this will be very powerful around the world. This accessibility will move from only the high-level work force to much larger landscape including all levels of workers.

SSQ: What about tablet computers?

Ahmad: People are very interested in tablets, but don’t see them as a competitor to smartphones. They are tied into the same network. Tablets are complementary to smartphones. It is more likely that tablets are going to impact the PC business and be far more useful in the business world.

SSQ: In Smartphone, you wrote that cloud computing  is a key part of the future of smartphones. Why?  What do businesses need to know about mobile devices and their intersection with cloud computing?

Ahmad: First, the cloud negates the current debate of Web versus apps in which some experts spell an end to the reign of apps. They say that HTML 5 will provide a new boost to Web-based apps against native apps. But while HTML 5 is going to be a powerful phenomenon in mobile environment, as evidenced by the demise of Adobe Flash software, the cloud will play the role of an equalizer for apps.

Cloud will empower apps for two large reasons:

  • First, it will allow mere feature phones to link to the cloud and thus transform them into smartphones by providing them access to apps.
  • Second, apps will become far more powerful with storage and processing power moving from handset to the cloud. That will especially empower enterprise apps that usually require higher amounts of storage and processing power.

Yet the prognosis regarding the death of mobile OS platforms could be a premise taken too far. Mobile OS platforms will still be required to effectively control the built-in features like the camera and deal with new challenges like security. If the need for businesses to be successful in the cloud arena could be summed up in one word, it’s innovation. Apple Siri is a testament to that. Cloud will open new frontiers to mobile phone manufacturers, wireless operators, app developers and service providers, but innovative companies will benefit the most from this new wave of technology disruption.             

SSQ: What role does HTML5 play in mobile environment?

Ahmad: HTML 5 is a powerful tool, an equalizer, because at this time those in the industry have to use different plug-ins; but what I think is going to happen is that you could simply develop a website using HTML5, and it would work equally well for desktops and mobile phones. The second thing that will happen is that there are different operating systems that will be able to work seamlessly. For app developers, if they develop native apps, they have to develop different apps for different platforms. HTML5 will work seamlessly across all operating systems and devices -- iOS, Android, etc. -- 2012 is going to be the year of HTML 5 in terms of bringing it to the mainstream, but complete implementation will take probably until 2015.

How do you envision the future of the smartphone? Email comments to

Smartphone by Majeed Ahmad is available at

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