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Next-gen of mobile vertical disruptions

05 Mar 2013  | Jennifer Baljko

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Mobile executives love to talk about the vertical disruption mobile technology is causing. This year's Mobile World Congress (MWC: Mobile Technology Madness) was no exception as executives have highlighted several key disruptions.

In the past, there was a lot of talk around the impact of:

  • 2G and 3G migrating to 4G/LTE
  • Moving to quad-core processors
  • The global penetration of mobile devices in all corners of the planet
  • The mobile OS platform wars
  • The growing need for mobile money and things like NFC to make shopping and routine payments easier.

This year, in the main halls, the conversation focused on next-wave activities that could cause disruption (or the way I see, better cross-industry integration).

Working together

For instance, interoperability and standards that would help devices, software, apps, and mobile operators talk more effectively to each other came up often. Whether consumers use a phone, a tablet, a TV, a car, a glucose monitor, a solar-powered phone charging station, a housing security system, or a lantern with an embedded SIM card, the data residing on each individual gizmo has to be better integrated and accessible through a common portal, like your favorite smartphone.

This will become increasingly important if the next wave of vertical disruptions come into full force. So where could mobile technology have the most impact in the coming years? In your car, in your home, and in your healthcare, Rajeev Chand, managing director and head of research for Rutberg & Co. said during the week in a keynote.

Some of this is already playing out, and will scale even more in the coming years, he said.

Take, for instance, the car. Things like GPS and OnStar navigation tools have already changed driving. But what if your car operated more like a smartphone and could feed up all sorts of other info?

GM vice chairman

Girsky: The carmaker will build 4G LTE connectivity into vehicles as early as next year.

General Motors (GM) is going to find out soon enough how consumers will interact with and react to such technology.

Vice chairman Steve Girsky told MWC attendees that the carmaker will start building 4G LTE connectivity into their vehicles as early as next year, with every brand eventually having that feature from GMC to Chevy to Opel.

Read that again: GM is embedding WiFi connectivity into its cars. It won't be based on your phone or external—it will run LTE on its own, making your auto one big hotspot. AT&T in the US will be the first partner helping to bringing this to market.

"Wireless technology has played an important role in automotive advances in recent years, helping to move people more efficiently, and more safely. Up till now, the automotive industry has focused largely on delivering entertainment, communications and safety capabilities within the vehicle, and on enabling many of the features that we love on our smartphones," Girsky said.

He added, "Our vision is to bring the customer's digital life into the car, and bring the car into the customer's digital life. To do so requires a new way of thinking in the automotive industry."

Mobile health was a big theme throughout many sessions at the conference, and Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, had a spot on the keynote speakers' list this year. With chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, on the rise globally, mobile technology offers appealing ways to educate people, monitor treatments, connect healthcare providers, and reduce costs.

In fact, she said mobile healthcare was "the essential intersection between healthcare and technology."

Internet of "Everything"

Of course, too, there is the "Internet of Everything," as Paul Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc. said. He was referring basically to everything else touching the life of the average smartphone user and how devices interact with information coming from multiple points.

"It's like using your phone to stream interactive information coming from your home automation system, your heating system or your car," he said.

"The best way to think of this is a vision we have for the digital sixth sense where you will augment your five senses with a wireless sixth sense," said Jacobs. "It's all part of this Internet not of Things, but of Everything."

Qualcomm's solution for bringing together this "Internet of Everything" came in the form of a press announcement stating that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc., will extend the AllJoyn software development project with new core interoperable services to enable richer experiences for consumers. These new services will be available on devices with different operating systems and from different vendors, the company said.

Where do you think mobile's next disruption will come from?

Jennifer Baljko

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