The convergence of various devices seems to be where the wireless industry is headed. Using the cloud as glue, the smartphone, TV, latpop and tablet are all being melded together through various flavors of wireless networks (i.e. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G).
Editors at Wireless Week are always concerned with whether some particular piece of technology lives within the realm of our coverage. Lately, questions revolve around how Google TV, Apple TV and AT&T’s uVerse will impact the wireless industry.
Examples of convergence abound as smartphones meld with the many other screens in our lives. Take, for instance, this video, complements of Pocket-lint, of an augmented reality feature from Qualcomm that sends photos from an Android device directly to a digital picture frame (see video below).
But a connected digital picture frame is just a hint of what’s to come. Talk to chip makers like Qualcomm and Intel and they’ll be the first to tell you (fingers crossed no doubt) that a device lacking wireless connectivity will soon be the exception to the rule.
But it’s not just the invisible connection that is starting to broaden the industry’s scope. Where content resides, and how it’s shared and purchased, is becoming just as big a play in wireless as anything. Apple and Google’s TV products are as much about advertising networks as they are about creating stickiness and tying devices into content channels. Where the operator fits into that picture, especially their IPTV services, has yet to be revealed.
I used to think that more connected portable devices would mean people would have to purchase fewer devices overall. In fact, it means that we will either want or need more (I’m not sure which term is more accurate). As an iPhone 4 user, I know that I’m eventually going to want that new Apple TV device, because it sports that sassy new AirPlay functionality that will allow me to wirelessly sling photos and videos from my phone to my TV.
My prediction: More connected devices will inevitably beget whole new categories of devices.
A friend of mine wrote recently to say that Apple’s reductionist approach to the new line of iPod Nanos is really a play at further integration with the iPhone. He contends that the Nano’s new size makes it easily accessorized (could be worn as a watch) and can offer Bluetooth connectivity with the iPhone. Imagine not having to lug out the “huge” iPhone to make a phone call, just talk into your wrist. The question is whether you’re willing to buy a Nano for that purpose?
I’m not sure I have a point here beyond the fact that I am continually blown away by the growing breadth and depth of this industry. As CTIA’s Enterprise and Applications show quickly approaches, I’m realizing that wireless can now be embedded in everything from prescription bottle caps to handheld video games to baby strollers. Our smartphones can now control everything from our TVs to our bank accounts, and there is now an app to answer almost every need imaginable.
Covering this industry will not get any easier, but the topics that we cover continue to reach further and further into nearly every segment of our society. From net neutrality to the threatened bans of Research In Motion devices across the globe, this wireless week just became the wireless era.