Brighthand’s Predictions for 2007

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Following up on a long tradition, this year the Brighthand staff will once again make some predictions for what’s going to come down the pipe in the next twelve months.

As always, the various staff members have been invited to go out on a limb and try to play Cassandra. These predictions cover everything from traditional PDAs, to coming developments in smartphones, and even UMPCs.

Ed Hardy

This will be a year in which most of the big mobile players will release an updated operating system. This will certainly include both Microsoft and Access, and Palm, Inc. might join the club, too.

One of the significant change in the operating system arena will be coming from Windows Mobile Smartphones. I expect this platform to, at long last, get support for editing Microsoft Office Documents. Or at least I hope so. It will be about darn time.

Easily the toughest calls this year is what will happen with ALP, Access’ replacement for the Palm OS. I hate to say it, but I think ALP won’t be a major force in North America or Europe. It will, however, become a significant player in Asia, where Linux-based operating systems are rapidly taking over.

The updated version of Palm OS Garnet being developed by Palm, Inc. for its Treo line, on the other hand, will continue be a major player in the U.S. market in 2007.

Nevertheless, the big news this year will be about new hardware. I predict that radical new models will overshadow any changes in operating systems. I expect much more internal storage capacity will become the norm, and GPS functionality will become standard.

Adama D. Brown

I predict 2007 will be the year of put up or shut up. Going into this year, manufacturers will have to bring something better and more compelling to the table, or else they run the risk that people just won’t buy.

My money is on wireless broadband, be that 3G, Wi-Fi, or WiMAX. Connectivity is king. Not all connectivity, though. Smartphone sales will start to stagnate as too many players saturate the market with too many similar devices.

UMPCs won’t get traction, but some scaled up mobile devices may, reaching into the video and entertainment market.

Palm will release a new operating system if they know what’s good for them.

Dell and HP both stay in the market, and the latter will continue flopping around the smartphone space like a fish out of water.

Antoine Wright

The high-end traditional handheld will be making a return to the market eye, as the UMPC platform will be pushed downward. At least two devices will be released that are essentially high-end handhelds (devices running a PDA operating system with multiple wireless options).

In addition, there will be at least one attempt to make a high-end PDA in the vein of the Nokia Internet Tablet. This will combine the hardware of an instant-on device with some attachment to an online software service to give ubiquitous connectivity.

I also predict that at least one new high-end handheld will take a chance with fuel-cells or another battery technology such as Lithium-Polymer batteries.

More people will use smartphones to get online; however, mobile browsers and mobile content will not catch up to the usefulness that users need until the end of the year… if then. There will be an attempt to make even more mainstream RSS on mobile devices, but data prices will keep anything more than light browsing as the main use.

Attempts to sell mobile video content will flop due to lackluster network performance, even more so than content and costs.

Brian Beeler

Palm’s third category will be a larger tablet style device in the same vein as some of the smaller UMPC style units we’re seeing now.

Palm will release future PDA products, but the lifecycle will continue to stretch out. They’ve sold too many Zire’s and other low- to mid-range units to walk away. They may also continue to dabble in the multimedia space with a revised LifeDrive.

Dell is on pause with the Axim, waiting to release the right product. It’ll release another one, though it’s tough to pinpoint when, or exactly what it will be. Given the current market and hardware available, the Axim X51 is still well positioned.

GPS is working its way into smartphones at a quickening pace. HP has a decent integration and Palm is going to have to offer this in its Treo line soon. It’s a no brainer at this point and something people want. On the content side, there’s a lot of benefit to being able to deliver localized information to mobile users.

I don’t think we’ll see more than one or two devices released in the U.S. with the new Palm OS (ALP) this year. PalmSource has been essentially sterile the last year or longer, and Access is probably wishing they didn’t pay a 100% premium for that company.

Crossbow won’t revolutionize mobile computing, but hopefully it will make it easier for first-time users to get on board. Windows Mobile is still too much of a cluster in several ways, making it hard for new users to get up to speed.

UMPCs will find a home in this market, as soon as prices get to a reasonable place. $1,000 is still too much to spend on a small slate tablet that is under-powered. It will be interesting to see how the Windows Mobile versions compare, since they’ll be lower cost, instant-on, and offer much of the same experience as the Samsung Q1, Asus R2H, etc.




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