Top 5 Mobile Trends for 2011

The coming year promises to be a transformative one for the wireless industry, with the arrival of 4G networks, countless new mobile devices, and a wide range of new functionality. In general, according to Dan Ortega, senior director of product marketing at Sybase, 2011 will see a fundamental shift in the way users interact with corporate information resources.

"What you will see in the aggregate is an acceleration of business: teams working more efficiently together, getting more done in less time, and becoming more responsive to customer needs," Ortega says.

With that in mind, here are five key trends to anticipate for the coming year:

1. The Year of the Tablet

VDC Research practice director David Krebs notes that the level of enterprise adoption of tablets has already exceeded most expectations. "We did a series of surveys through the course of the year to gauge level of interest and intended adoption… and overall, within the first quarter of release, 10 to 15 percent (if not more) of organizations had already played with or had partial deployments of the iPad -- and another 30 to 40 percent had plans to evaluate these types of devices," he says. "So the interest is certainly there."

And the coming year will be an even busier one for tablets, according to Jack E. Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. "You're going to see a plethora of new devices coming on the market in the next six months, most of which will be Android-powered, but not all of them," he says. "HP will come on board with a webOS device, RIM obviously with their PlayBook, Apple's going to have version two of the iPad - and then there will be lots and lots of people doing Android."

2. The Rise of the Mobile Cloud

As companies juggle a plethora of mobile devices and operating systems, Gold says, cloud-based solutions will become increasingly important. "What I see happening, and it's as true for smartphones as it is for tablets, is that enterprises are going to increase their diversity -- and what ends up happening from an application perspective is that more of the applications will be on-demand applications, SaaS applications, cloud-based applications… and fewer applications will run resident as a full client," he says.

3. The End of Unlimited

With the advent of 4G networks, Gold says network congestion will inevitably become an issue. "I think we're going to see some significant issues around performance of networks… particularly as more richness in the net gets popular -- because if you're downloading more, the networks get more clogged," he says.

In response, Gold says, expect to say goodbye to your flat-rate unlimited plan. "We're going to see the predominance of tiered plans, so one price for unlimited is probably going to be extinct within the next few years… or it'll be much more expensive," he says.

4. Mobile Malware

With a vast increase in mobile device deployments, Gold says it's reasonable to expect a parallel rise in mobile security threats. "As the number of these devices goes up, two things happen," he says. "One, there's more exposure for the enterprise, and two, the bad guys out there will target them. You don't target an environment where there's 1,000 of these things - you target where there's 20 million."

And Ortega says it's crucial to remember that a smartphone is really not a phone - it's more appropriate, he says, to see it as a computer that happens to be able to make phone calls. "When you buy a computer at home, what's the first thing you do when you hook it up? You drop in McAfee, you drop in Norton AntiVirus," he says. "You secure your computer, because everybody know what happens if you don't. But they don't do that for their phone."

5. Mobile Management Challenges

As the sheer number of smartphones and tablets deployed in the enterprise continues to increase, Gold says, mobile management and support will become an increasing challenge. "The more mobile devices you have in the field, the more difficult it is to manage them… and when you start talking about tablets and other smart devices that actually have apps on them, [mobile management] becomes even more of an issue," he says.

Tim Weingarten, CEO of Visage Mobile, agrees. "As employee demand for enterprise-ready mobile devices increases, businesses are already asking how to manage them, and will struggle over the next year to find appropriate levels of support, making management even more essential," he says.


Android, iPad, tablet, mobile security, mobile management