While Wi-Fi is present on most smartphones today, most are using wireless technology that trails laptop computers and netbooks by at least a generation or two. However, this will change over the next few years. According to a recent report from ABI Research, most Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones in the market by 2014 will include the 802.11n Wi-Fi technology. The research firm predicts around 87 percent of smartphone handsets will utilize this latest version of Wi-Fi, which is good news for those looking to get connected through the wireless protocol rather than cellular towers. Currently, most phones still rely on the 802.11b/g protocols, which could explain why many smartphone users often don’t get the same level of connectivity as they might experience with their computers.
Michael Morgan, industry analyst for ABI Research, noted that 50 percent of Wi-Fi access points are already offering 11n. However, the firm also notes that while this could be an improvement, end users shouldn’t expect miracles from the upgrade. The handsets probably won’t offer MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) or other 11n enhancements – at least not right away.
Still, the upgrade is worth it for several reasons. The most notable is that the n protocol, in addition to the b/g ones being offered, shouldn’t really cause any increase in manufacturing costs and it should provide better coverage. As it stands b/g are restricted to the now crowded 2.4GHz frequency while 802.11n works on the 5GHz band.
So what does this mean for mobile business users today? Not all that much. But as the mobile networks improve from 3G to 4G, the alternative Wi-Fi networks are already in place. The irony is that most 3G phones can’t run on 4G, and because the handsets feature b/g protocols for Wi-Fi, either way of getting better connections means a new phone. That’s something to consider the next time you’re signing a multi-year contract at the very least!
Android Surges Ahead
For a mobile operating system that didn’t technically exist (at least in consumer’s minds) two years ago, the Android is now leading the way. A survey from ChangeWave Research found that interest in the Google-built mobile OS has risen by 15 percent in the last three months, which now makes it the second most popular operating system behind the iPhone.
Android could even be seen as the OS that brought new life back to Motorola, thanks to that feisty little Droid (and for the record that will be the last time I use that line, I promise). More importantly, it isn’t just the Droid that has been so feisty, but rather the whole Android OS. Just three months ago it tied for last in consumer preference and now it is in second place.
There are factors that need to be considered. The most notable is that when the Google Android OS debuted it came out on one handset, the T-Mobile G1 from HTC. Now there are multiple Android phones, and last week’s debut of the Nexus One was quite a big splash. The other big consideration is that this survey just tracks interest. After all, as I consider a move from New York to other parts I’m considering cars to buy (as I don’t actually own one at present) – I may be interested in a Porsche Boxster, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be buying one soon. So users maybe interested in the Android OS, but many might stick to a different handset to meet their needs.