Mobile Workers Beware: One Size Doesn't Fit All

BARCELONA, SPAIN (07/11/2000) - The good news is that the rapid rollout of wireless communications technologies is set to make life easier for wired road warriors. However, the ultimate communications device, one that would allow ubiquitous, wireless access to both voice and data communications, is unlikely to appear on the market any time soon.

That one size doesn't fit all was one of the few things that the industry analysts and vendor representatives seemed to agree upon at Mobile Insights Inc.'s two-day Go Mobile Europe conference, which closed its doors here Tuesday.

Gazing deep into his crystal ball, Gerry Purdy, president and chief executive officer of market researcher Mobile Insights, went as far as to paint a picture of the future that may well seem strangely familiar to many a road warrior today. By 2010, mobile workers are still likely to carry around three separate devices: a notebook PC, a mobile phone and a PDA (personal digital assistant)-like handheld wireless Web appliance, Purdy said.

The major difference will instead be that all three devices will be enabled to access information from the Web or corporate networks via wireless networks that will offer fast, broadband-like connectivity anytime, anywhere. The devices will also be able to exchange data via emerging wireless technologies, such as the Bluetooth personal-area network specification.

The wireless boom will also result in a mobile lifestyle where accessing information from the Internet will become part of daily life. "Most people ten years from now will have their first interaction with the Internet through wireless devices," Purdy said. However, no one device will dominate the scene in the way that the PC has ruled in the wired Internet era, he added, predicting that future devices will complement rather than replace the PC.

In presentation after presentation, vendor representatives from companies, such as Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Palm Inc., offered similar views.

"In this business, more is less," said Alexis Martial, Palm's European director of engineering. One major reason behind Palm's success in the handheld device arena has been that the company never tried to make devices that could do everything for everybody, he added.

For corporations and individuals alike, mobility will also bring risks, several speakers noted, which is something that the industry needs to address. As portable devices increasingly will store critical business or personal data, a lost or stolen device can become a major problem.

Intel, for example, is developing what it calls the Intel Protected Access Architecture, an initiative aimed at securing access to data on notebook PCs.

"Our goal is to make a stolen notebook as valuable as a brick," said Don MacDonald, director of mobile platform group marketing at Intel.

Mobile Insights, in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-650-390-9800 or via the Web at http://www.mobileinsights.com/. Intel, in Santa Clara, California, is at +1-408-765-8080 or at http://www.intel.com/.

Palm, in Santa Clara, California, is at +1-408-326-5000 or at http://www.palm.com/.

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