Mobile Internet Access Exploding

BY NOW YOU'VE undoubtedly heard the news: Portable devices such as phones, pagers and computers with mobile modems will quickly surpass desktop PCs as the Internet access devices of choice. "Mobile Internet Access Devices: Surfing the Net on the Fly," a recent report by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Cahners In-Stat Group, confirms the claim, stating that more than 1 billion Web-ready wireless phones alone will ship every year as of 2004. But In-Stat Senior Mobile Commerce Analyst Ken Hyers says the numbers need to be examined in context.

"These are not subscriber numbers being projected," Hyers says. "These are only units shipped." Hyers notes that while billions of the devices may be on the streets, the actual number of people who will be using them for Internet access is not easy to determine. Thus, he cautions, it doesn't necessarily mean that people will be giving up their PCs in favor of the devices.

Hyers adds that while the sheer number of devices and upcoming higher-speed access technologies guarantee that more people will be going online with the devices, those users are unlikely to be using them for the same sort of activities or for the same amount of time as they would a PC. The best screens on handheld devices will still be small, and data entry will remain a serious hurdle, even as voice recognition becomes more feasible. As a result, the devices will most likely find homes as notification devices for stock quotes, auction bids, instant messaging, shopping and the like -- not true Web surfing and e-mail tools.

Those limitations, however, shouldn't stop corporations from getting an early start on mobile preparedness, Hyers says. "The strategy is information anywhere, anytime," he states, "and many [corporate] customers are going to be untethered at least part of the time."

This story, "Mobile Internet Access Exploding" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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