With the rise of Apple's iPhone, and other new entrants such as Google's Android OS platform, mobile user interfaces (UI) are emerging as a key battleground as ease of use becomes ever-more important.
Gartner predicts mobile makers will use UIs to differentiate handsets and platforms in an attempt to stand out from the competition — meaning businesses should get ready to support them.
"Organizations should expect more user demands for support of specific device models driven by interface preferences," the analyst noted.
Another area it believes has an important role to play in differentiating mobile hardware is display tech. 2009 and 2010 will bring several new display technologies into play, according to Gartner, including 'pico projectors' that are capable of projecting presentations on flat surfaces.
The analyst is also confident mobile broadband will continue its onward march, noting: "In many regions, HSPA [High Speed Packet Access] provides adequate connectivity to replace Wi-Fi 'hotspots'".
The mobile web has potential also, according to the analyst, which "is emerging as a low-cost way to deliver simple mobile applications to a range of devices".
Mobile widgets are tipped to gain ground in the coming years, as Gartner said they offer a way of streaming simple feeds to handsets and small screens. Mobile web apps will therefore be part of most B2C mobile strategies, the analyst noted. With the rise of GPS-enabled phones, location sensing will grow in importance as a means of contextualizing mobile apps and making services more useful. Mobile presence and mobile social networking in particular are likely to benefit, the analyst added.
Gartner has high hopes for the next iteration of Bluetooth — Bluetooth 3.0 — which will bring support for Wi-Fi and ultrawideband. The analyst claims it will enable new applications such as health monitoring.
802.11n Wi-Fi is also tipped as having potential. "802.11n is the first Wi-Fi technology to offer performance on a par with the 100Mbps Ethernet commonly used for wired connections to office PCs. It is, therefore, an enabler for the all-wireless office, and should be considered by companies equipping new offices or replacing older 802.11a/b/g systems in 2009 and 2010," the analyst noted.
The final tech to make it onto Gartner's map is NFC (near field communication); however, while Gartner believes it is emerging as a leading standard for applications such as mobile payment, it says NFC usage is not likely to become common in mature mobile markets anytime soon. "NFC is likely to become important sooner in emerging markets, with some deployments starting by 2010," Gartner concludes.
Credit: The eight hot mobile techs to watch was originally published on silicon.com.