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2007: A banner year for mobile tech?

With new technology and products on the way, 2007 promises to be another interesting year for the mobile workforce.
Written by Farihan Bahrin, Contributor

What does 2007 have in store for the mobile workforce?

The new year is barely two weeks old but for the vendors and technology pushers in the mobile world, it is back to business as usual.

ZDNet Asia takes a look at some of the mobile trends--plus their impact and challenges--that are likely to surface in 2007.

1. More enterprises to start adopting mobility
As the population of mobile workers continues to grow in the region, Asia Pacific enterprises will adopt a clearer and long-term strategic approach to the deployment of mobile technologies in 2007, according to Springboard Research.

With mobile and wireless technologies becoming more pervasive with the launch of more high-speed wireless and cellular networks, it will become increasingly difficult for organizations to keep mobility out of their IT strategies. But, given the personal nature of mobility, most organizations will have a tough time managing it in their current IT environment, where they will find it tough to control the ever-changing behavior of mobile users.

2. Mobile GPS market to grow
According to a recent report by research company Strategy Analytics, some 16 million smartphones with GPS (global positioning system) capabilities will be shipped worldwide in 2010. The analyst house also predicts that satellite-navigation companies--faced with a growing market offering low-cost, basic map-based products--will be forced to dream up new innovative services to stay competitive. According to a separate report by Gartner, 60 percent of the worldwide cellular population will be "trackable" via location-based services by 2010.

3. More Internet-based apps to move into mobiles
With nearly 4 billion cell phone users expected worldwide by the end of 2010, the likes of Yahoo and Google are aggressively pursuing more consumers in the mobile market by introducing applications tweaked for the smaller, mobile screen, including search and location-based services.

4. Fixed-mobile convergence starts to gain traction
In Singapore, wireless service provider SingTel fired the first salvo after it announced mio, a service that brings together fixed and mobile technology to consumers.

Analyst firm IDC predicts that more telecom network operators will begin initial deployments of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) services in 2007. Technologies such as mesh networking, peer-to-peer computing, software-defined radio equipment, USB-based HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) modems, and IPv6 (IP version 6) upgrades to Internet equipment have helped push the capability and desirability of FMC services and networks.

5. Mobile-mobile convergence to follow suit
Handsets that support multiple radio technologies (also known as dual-mode handsets) are already here, but industry experts expect such devices to made good on their potential in 2007. Companies such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson, have begun experimenting with devices that can switch between cellular and IP-based voice connectivity, and this year will likely see more products being launched.

6. Singapore's hits-and-misses with wireless
Part of the island-state's plan to spread free wireless access to its citizens has already come to fruition with the launch of the iN2015 initiative. Falling 3G broadband prices will likely spur adoption among businesses. However, research company Ovum noted that next-generation wireless technologies such as WiMax, will remain niche technologies in most markets for the next five years--and will not be implemented anytime soon.

7. Asean broadband penetration to surge past 200 million
AMI-Partners expects the Asean (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) broadband figure to flow past the 200 million-mark in 2007. Emerging countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, will fuel this broadband growth in the region--thanks to falling broadband prices, coupled with the increasing use of Net telephony and applications that drive the need for speed and bandwidth.

8. Mobile networks to outgrow fixed-line services
A study commissioned by the GSM Association shows 90 percent of the world's population will have access to mobile networks by the end of the decade. The study also shows that governments have collected more than US$6 billion from the telecoms industry and that mobile coverage is expected to expand further.

As the World Bank estimates, the capital cost of providing mobile coverage is still more affordable than installing fixed-line connections by a factor of ten.

9. Mobile and IPTV service to capture Chinese viewership
According to a study by Analysys International, China's wireless digital broadcasting for handheld TV will continue to grow in 2007 before hitting an estimated viewership of 22.19 million in 2010. Likewise, IDC expects the 2008 Beijing Games to be a big driver of IPTV adoption in China and the Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, region.

10. Laptops take over Asia's mature, and emerging markets, by storm
According to IDC, notebooks will be the fastest-growing PC form factor in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, with over 25 percent growth in unit shipment this year. The research house said falling prices and growing awareness will help drive this market growth, resulting in more multiple-PC households and increased migration away from desktops.

While notebook growth will be also be aggressive, IDC predicted that the 3G-enabled notebook segment will see disappointing results in 2007 where bottlenecks at the network operators will cause delayed demand.

11. New player bites into soaring smartphone market
Apple enters the handset market with the launch of its first iPhone cellular device, powered by the company's own OS X operating system. But whether it can make an impact in a market traditionally dominated by Nokia and its Symbian handsets, remains to be seen. According to statistics from Gartner, smartphone sales increased by 75.5 percent to 37.4 million units in 2005 and Nokia dominated smartphone sales in the first half of 2006, capturing 42 percent market share.

Nevertheless, Apple CEO Steve Jobs expects to sell 10 million units, or approximately 1 percent of the global phone market sales, by 2008--the same year the iPhone will make its debut in Asia.

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