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(Article featured in Parramatta Business Access)

By Dexter Duncan

In my last article, we explored internet prices and some of the benefits related to Australias’ National Broadband Network.   This article explores the growth of smart phones as a trend and tool for businesses.   We will discuss some sample applications that improve productively beyond access to e-mail.    With the simple mobile phone having the same power as your office computer, some productivity solutions will never be the same.

There are some parents tracking the where-abouts of their kids through the GPS on their mobile phone.   More honesty is brought into the conversation when they tell you where they are going and when they are coming home.   Imagine an automatic time-stamp  of employee time-clocks when they arrive (in office or at a client site).  Or staff filling out on-line report in the field which are automatically presented after leaving a client site.   Or your travelling boss being able to approve things quickly from his phone!  There are many smart phone applications that are suddenly possible with latest generation of smartphones such as ones using Google Android and Apple’s iPhone.

Many people are aware that you can get a Skype number which allows you to answer a call or chat anywhere in the world costing only the price of your monthly internet service    Having data service on your phone allows many more of the computer based applications on your mobile phone.   You can easily set-up an office number that automatically rings your mobile when you are away from your desk.

About a year ago, I was travelling inter-state for the day and received a call from my daughter’s school.  They called to ask me to pick my sick daughter up, not realizing I was thousands of miles away.     During a client meeting, I could also quickly send a chat message to overseas technical support folks without interrupting the flow of the meeting or costing a fortune.

The Australian government is already talking up telemedicine and education examples as remote usage ideas for the National Broadband Network.    Other examples such as security related eye or thumbprint scans or logistically related  delivery or warehouse inventory tracking could all be improved by integrating with mobile phone.

Growth in mobile internet shows it will overtake regular “fixed” internet by 2014.   This is partly driven by availability of 3G mobile networks and popular demand for social networking like Facebook.   (Social networking is already more popular than e-mail….)

Technology is becoming easier to use, with even some luddite older generation folks using iPads or iPhones to check their mail or calendars.    I have been impressed with the ability of my Android smartphone to automatically combine both my personal and business calendars without any configuration on my part.   Smartphones is THE growth area for both phone makers and service providers and the “voice only” mobile phone is no longer growing and is not as profitable.

There are many players entering the smartphone market with reports of upcoming devices from Microsoft, Dell, Playstation and Nokia.   Although Blackberry is still popular in some circles, the introduction of the Apple iPhone with over 400,000 applications changed the landscape of smartphones.  Many folks think Nokia is on their way out and they desperately need their new introductions of smartphones to be a success.  You now have a plethora of smartphones available in Australia today, with some of the best coming from brands that were not very popular a few years ago:

  1. HTC  Desire $779
  2. HTC Legend $600
  3. HTC Wildfire $349
  4. Samsung Galaxy S $850
  5. Samsung Galaxy  Tab $1,000
  6. Motorola Quench
  7. Motorola Milestone 2

All the above are based on Google Android “open” operating system.   HTC provides a variety of choices at different prices.   Samsung is a fantastic experience with a large screen.   Motorola is preferred by some as it has a quality feel about it.   Depending on which carrier you have, you could easily add one of them to your life.

If you or your staff already have phones with access to e-mail and web-browsing, you may ask, why should I change/upgrade?   Some of the key differences in this generation of phones include:

  • Faster Phones (i.e. fast browsing, games, reduced lag time),
  • Bigger and higher resolution screens and
  • Cheaper mobile broadband

In many cases, you no longer need a laptop to read or send basic documentation as smartphones support many of these.   This can equate to higher productivity depending on how you use the phones.   The world is changing and the winners are the ones that find new ways of wringing productivity out of their business.  

Here are some recent numbers on how many iPhones and Androids were sold by Telstra (the largest mobile player in Australia):

If you look at the broader picture, it shows Androids gaining on iPhones.     iPhones were about 400,000 units over six month period and Androids around 290,000 over same period.     

Call your local technology partner for more advice.

See our website for more:

http://www.EmpowerIT.com.au

About the author: Dexter Duncan provides marketing advice and heads marketing and business development at Empower IT Solutions. Contact Dexter at dd@empowerit.com.au

Gigaom:  Mary Meeker: Mobile Internet will soon overtake fixed Internet, April 2010

http://gigaom.com/2010/04/12/mary-meeker-mobile-internet-will-soon-overtake-fixed-internet/

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