15 Fearless Mobile Predictions For 2012
Everyone makes predictions at the beginning of the year, so I might as well take a shot too. Some predictions are obvious, like massive smart-phone growth, which I won’t bother detailing. But other predictions require some explanation.
Sluggish LTE Rollout
The Long-Term Evolution (LTE) rollout will be slow. Verizon is way ahead with the LTE infrastructure buildout, but AT&T is catching up. LTE only commands a fraction of the overall networks worldwide, and it will still be a fraction (albeit a larger one) at the end of the year.
MetroPCS is well on its way with LTE. Sprint’s decision to begin its LTE conversion early is a good sign. The high capital expenditures and lack of a wide range of affordable LTE phones are responsible for the lagging LTE adoption, but good progress will occur anyway. There were many new LTE phones at CES this year, at last. The increasing demand for smart phones, video, and the competition will drive the buildouts.
Small cells will begin to appear. Everyone says that the microcell/metrocell/picocell is the wave of the future for LTE. That makes sense, and several chip companies like Mindspeed (with its recent acquisition of Picochip), Freescale, and Texas Instruments are ready with devices.
So where are the end products? Femtocells are already out there but have not been that popular except outside the U.S. The complexity of integrating many small cells into the network is slowing adoption, but as LTE demand grows we should see some small cells later this year. The small cell will really come into its own with full LTE rollouts and LTE-Advanced.
More 802.11ac WLAN Products
802.11ac WLAN products will take off like a shot. Everyone has Wi-Fi, and it’s hard to name anything that doesn’t use it. The latest version, 802.11ac, is much faster and can hit speeds of more than 1 Gbit/s thanks to wider channels and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO). It operates in the 5-GHz industrial-scientific-medical (ISM) band and is backward-compatible with 802.11n, the current standard, as well.
While 11ac is ideal for video streaming in consumer products where you will first see it, it is highly desirable for all applications because of the higher speed and greater link reliability. Chips are available now and end products like routers and TV sets are on the way. I see 11ac quickly replacing all other Wi-Fi versions in laptops, tablets, smart phones, and everything else beginning later this year.
Finally, Windows Phones
Microsoft Windows phones will get some traction. I’ve tired out one of these phones to get the feel of it, and I like it, maybe even better than the Android phones. You have to see it and try it to believe how neat it looks and works.
HTC and Samsung have Windows phones now, and Nokia will begin selling its Windows-based smart phones in the U.S. this year. They will be a bigger hit than most people suspect. Besides, iPhones and Androids are so “yesterday.” Demonstrations will be key.
New Bosses At RIM
RIM will get new management. By the time you read this, it may have already happened. RIM’s original founders and co-CEOs did a magnificent job of bringing you the BlackBerry and its e-mail system, but the company is falling seriously behind in the smart-phone race. RIM isn’t dead yet, though, and hopefully we will see some major helpful developments as a result of the new management quickly.
The iPad 3?
Apple will have a new product. But what will it be? I’m guessing it will be the iPad 3 and not a new iPhone. The iPhone 4S just came out in October and is doing well. It seems like new iPhone models come every two years, just as your two-year contract is expiring.
I see the iPhone 5, probably an LTE phone with near-field communications (NFC), as a 2013 product, but the new non-Jobs management at Apple may see it differently. More LTE coverage is needed first, and 2013 is more likely. One rumored Apple product is TV related. Maybe we will see it at this year’s International CES in Las Vegas.
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