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Do smartphones spell the end of PCs?

Posted: 19 Jul 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphones  mobile phones  PCs  handsets  4G 

Smartphones with gigahertz processors, 4G apps are a threat to the PC, say execs at the Mobilebeat 2010 conference. Some other ideas that came up at the conference as vendors race for revenues on wireless networks are handsets hosting separate consumer and business clients and lots more video.

Consolidation in mobile platforms and applications is a nagging issue, but increasingly the main focus is how to get to the money, according to presenters. "We spent $9 billion [Rs.42,028.35 crore] on 700MHz spectrum to take coverage to the next level for 4G, and now we are spending billions of top of that to build the networks out," said Humphrey Chen, director of new technology development at Verizon Wireless

Verizon has trial LTE networks in Boston and Seattle now delivering 10Mbit/s down to users and as much as 5Mbit/s up to the net. One idea it is mulling to drive use of that network is a docking station with keyboard, camera and monitor that turns a smartphone into a full PC.

"With gigahertz processors, the divide between the smartphone and PC has narrowed," said Chen. "That's Microsoft's worst nightmare because there is no Windows or Office revenue, but there's a big Google Apps and Verizon cloud computing opportunity there," he added.

Chen also floated the idea creating separate consumer and business clients on a single handset, suggesting carriers could bill two parties for services on the device. "We are exploring virtualisation technology to make that happen," Chen said in a keynote talk.

Verizon is expected to launch a mobile developer conference soon. It has already created a 4G venture forum including Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and four venture capital firms to drive new ideas for cellular nets.

Many of the new ideas from Verizon and others involve packing more video on wireless nets. Chen said customer support services need tools to be able to ingest video feeds from customers.

Sprint, which recently launched its first WiMAX handset, sees the potential for real-time high def video streaming to social networking sites using its net. It also expects use from businesses using handsets to connect security cameras and other monitors.

"We think there are tons of business apps, and we continue to seek embedded Wi-Fi devices to connect [our net] to," said Todd Rowley, VP of 4G at Sprint.

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