Mobile phones are becoming increasingly more powerful. Here are 10 new uses of mobile phones that will create new opportunities for entrepreneurs to tap on. Many of the features are in prototype phase or already in commercial use in countries where cell phones are more advanced i.e. Japan.
Top 10 Predictions of New Uses for Your Mobile phone
1. Larger Processor, bandwidth, Storage (Always)
a. Similar to the computer industry, the capabilities of cell phones are matching those of old generation desktops. Although it is certain that cell phones will always be underpowered compared to desktops, it is also true that cell phones do not need to be as powerful as a desktop as the application range is different.
2. Accessories/Customization (Always)
a. Currently customization of a cell phone is pretty much limited to ringtones and graphical themes. Will we see further customization on the software side if OS are opened up? Ubuntu Linux has 3D interfaces which Windows does not have. It is plausible that an open OS will allow greater creativity to flow to phones. FIC has just announced a phone running off Linux called the OpenMoko and is expected to sell for US$350. http://www.openmoko.org/
3. Device Convergence (1-2 Years)
a. It used to be that phones were just phones. Now they are cameras and MP3 players too. What are the new features that could converge into phones? Thumb Drives seem to be the most likely to me in the short term.
4. Web services( 1- 3 years)
a. Currently Wifi and 3G technology connects most cell phones to the internet. However this is set to change as new technologies (ie. WiMax, EVDO, HSDPA) take root. Always connected cellphones mean that new web applications can be dreamt of. It is hard to say what applications will surface but there are many possibilities. As of now, there is certainly no Mobile 2.0 yet.
5. TV/Video watching ( 1- 3 years)
a. Youtube on your phone? This seems to be a reality as broadband speeds reach your cell phone. You can also already watch Free to Air TV stations with some cell phones, providing you entertainment on your ride home. However I think the more likely scenario is that someone will download an episode of LOST and convert is to run on his cell phone. This is much like what the video Ipod has brought to mobile video.
6. Networked Gaming ( 2- 4 years)
a. You can even connect to Second Life on your mobile phones. What Game types are more suitable for mobile phones? Generally it is agreed that they do not require a fixed amount of time since the user might not have complete attention to play the game.
7. Location based Services (2-4 years)
a. Because you are moving around and your phone is always with you, there are services that can come up according to where you are. Most of them currently are Finder type of applications where you find nearby bars, restaurants etc. Also your cellphone can act as a mapping tool and help you get around unfamiliar places. This might even replace the GPS devices we find in cars now.
8. ePayment (5-10 years)
a. Designed to incorporate a RFID chip that acts as a secure payment devices. Japan has numerous phones like this introduced by NTT Docomo where RFID tags are incorporated into the phones and phone readers are licensed out to retailers. You just need to swipe your phone near to the reader and the payment will automatically take place.
b. Think also of internet banking/Paypal on the go. Instead of physical devices, connected cellphones can now do transaction over internet. However this requires authentication that is more troublesome that using a RFID chip.
9. Personal Key (5-7 years) a.
Using RFID or Bluetooth, it is possible that you can use your phones to unlock doors. RFID is the more common option currently. It also means that you only need 1 phone to access all your locked doors(i.e. Office, Home, etc)
10. Identification (10-15 years)
a. Perhaps the furthest off trend for your cell phone. As the availability of cell phones rise, will they become a form of identification? Like holding your driver’s license and medical history? After all, your phone is always with you and it is a personal device. However for this to come true, it will require a big government push and this does not seem likely in the near future.
There are many opportunities to build new applications. Combining 2 or more trends together yields interesting uses. Imagine a Google earth where you are tracked using location based services to let your friends know where you are(or for government surveillance). They can ask you out for lunch. Another service I can think of is where you can organize nearby people to buy goods together at a cheaper rate from a retailer or take advantage of a group discount. Or if ePayment takes place, you can do online banking at home without a credit card anymore. Everyone will just have an RFID reader at home. Anyone else has any Business ideas to take advantage of the trends above?
See the difference between the future and Now: Part 1 Top 10 Ways People Use Their Mobiles Now
* time prediction is time to mass adoption
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