Tech trends in 2012
Writer: Edwin Yap
Published: Fri, 06 Jan 2012
A very happy new year to you, dear readers! Once again we come to that time of the year when we look at the up-and-coming technology trends that are expected to hit our shores this new year.
Just to recap: last year, I predicted three trends – the rise of tablet computing, a growing momentum in Android devices in the market, and faster mobile broadband packages coming to the fore. For the most part, the trends that I predicted came true.
Today, there are at least half a dozen notable mobile tablets coming from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Asus and Acer, besides those offered by Apple.
Also, Android handsets continue to dominate the market with all major brands having one form of Android device or another.
And mobile operators continue to offer broadband packages that give consumers a plethora of deals to choose from.
Of the three trends carried over from 2011, mobile broadband will continue to advance, as network technology will continue to give consumers faster speeds. But there are two other trends that I believe would also impact both consumers and businesses, namely the rise of cloud computing and mobile security.
Late last year, the government said that it had provisionally offered new frequency licences for a new form of mobile technology known as Long Term Evolution or LTE for short. LTE is the next generation technology that boasts network speeds of up to five times faster than what is available with 3G today.
With these new licences, operators can offer new kinds of services that are not that well supported in today’s 3G environment.
But while the government has moved to offer these new air wave licences to mobile operators, don’t expect LTE to come to the market anytime soon.
Analysts and industry players have predicted that LTE will only arrive in the market late in 2012 or more possibly in 2013.
However, those wanting faster mobile speeds may not need to wait that long as operators today are beginning to upgrade their network to a new technology called HSPA+ (pronounced HSPA Plus) that will act as an interim buffer before LTE comes. These upgrades will enable network speeds to hover about three times what 3G is capable of today.
In tandem with these developments on the network side, mobile handsets are also beginning to acquire more processing power, memory, better camera, and better resolution screen. Already we have devices that use dual core processor technology (two brains in one chip) that have come into the market.
Rest assured, you can continue to expect many more phones to come into the market, some of which will begin to support LTE and other cool features such as mobile wallet, where users will be able to use the phone as you would a payment card.
In a nutshell, cloud computing is a fancy tech jargon that really means you can use your mobile devices to communicate with powerful servers and software that are remotely located elsewhere via an Internet connection.
By having your data, applications and processing power taken care of on remote servers, everything will be centralised thus making your device an interface for delivery of software and services.
Today, we have many examples of this already happening. Take Google Apps, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, for example. These are all applications that are run from the Internet and accessed via applications on your phone or tablet. No longer do you need to store your data in say a single machine as you can access your file from anywhere so long as you have Internet connection.
With cloud computing, you don’t need to buy any software in the traditional sense and instal it on your local PC or tablet; all you need is to buy an app to interface with the service provider and you’re good to go.
The advantage of this is enormous as not only will you have your data always on the go with you but also you’ll not have to worry about upgrading your software to the latest version to be bug free, and when you need, you can always “buy” more storage or processing power by ordering it from tour service provider.
These advantages are not only going to be significant for consumers but also businesses, especially small and medium businesses (SMBs). Because of the cloud computing delivery model, businesses no longer need to worry about upgrade cycles, licensing issues, and can just pay as you go, for more storage, computing power as well as more software licences. SMBs also won’t need to worry about hardware upgrades as there is no longer the need to buy hardware, just subscribe for more when they need it.
Increased mobile security
As more people depend on cloud and mobile computing, there is a downside that people must take note of – that of mobile security. Already, there are reports that cyber criminals are exploiting smartphone and tablet operating software and writing malware and viruses to take advantage of these vulnerabilities.
For the most part, these vulnerabilities and exploitations are small compared to that experienced in the PC world for now. However, as more and more people begin using tablets, smartphones and cloud computing, users will need to have not only basic software protection but also learn to be aware of the best practices to defend against such threats.
Exacerbating this threat is the fact that many consumers would like to bring their own devices to the workplace and use it as part of their work machine. This potentially brings the security threats to their workplace and companies would need to establish the right policies and best practices for staff to follow.
Again this is where cloud computing can be an advantage. Because data is centrally stored, there are options for a company to only allow users to access corporate data instead of having them store it locally. This way, data is always protected regardless.
With cloud computing in place, it is also possible to set policies and procedures that can remotely wipe out data or any other sensitive information should these devices get lost or stolen.