Electronic Design

More Trends In Cell Phones

Wireless From Cable Companies
Say what? Yes, cable companies like Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner plan to offer wireless services in deals with Sprint Nextel. With the phone carriers getting into the TV business by way of their broadband offerings, the cable companies will counter this competition with a move into wireless. Their triple play will become a quad play. Some consumers will go for it.

Fresh New Hacker Targets
So far, cell phones have avoided Internet problems like spam, viruses, and spyware. Get ready for it, though. With more and more Internet connectivity, it will probably happen. Work is ongoing to place security software in cell phones, but it's one burden we could do without.

Location-Based Services
Cell phones have or will have GPS and other real-time location capability as mandated by the E911 requirement. Now, carriers and other companies are trying to figure out which location-based services to offer. New assisted-GPS chips are available to speed up access. Maps and directions are obvious, but what else? Ads and promos could be possible, but who wants that? Look for this to emerge slowly.

Games Are Gargantuan!
Games may be even bigger than video and TV. Some games are available now, but more are on the way. With superior color displays, gaming companies now have an eye toward developing games optimized for small size. Some games are downright addictive. Battery makers are already smiling.

Greater Integration
The single-chip cell phone is now here thanks to Infineon, Philips, Silicon Labs, and Texas Instruments, and more are on the way. These chips make possible ultra-low-cost handsets (ULCHs), basic no-frills phones that cost $30 or so. A market for it exists in the U.S., with an even bigger market burgeoning in China and other developing countries.

While the smart phones and other phones with more advanced features will be multiple-chip products, more of the circuitry will be combined into fewer chips. Meanwhile, basestations are adopting software defined radio (SDR) on a wide scale, since it makes it easier to handle multiple technologies and services. The handset is next.

But even with fewer chips, the cell phone won't necessarily get smaller. Instead, handset manufacturers will pack in more features and make room for bigger batteries to run them.
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