The future of mobile technology
Mobile phones. In the beginning, they were bricks. But they were mobile bricks. And, in the beginning, size didn’t matter. But we were a fickle bunch, and our eyes strayed. Smaller became beautiful. Then we wanted cameras, email and games.
And now our phone is our constant companion – helping us in many areas of our life and business.
So what’s next?
Think back 10 years. Blackberry had a market capitalisation of over $50 billion; Nokia as a whole was valued at $150 billion.
Skip forward to the present: Blackberry (with just—at best— one percent of the current handset market) has waved a white flag and launched an Android phone; the glory days of global domination by Nokia (now gobbled up by Microsoft) are fading fast. Both brands are almost bywords for nostalgia.
Today, the mobile phone giants are Apple and Samsung. But will their reign be any longer than the previous champions? It’s worth noting that in 2014, the fastest sales growth was for Windows phones.
From its acquisitions, it’s clear that Microsoft is focusing on the telecoms market—its stable now includes Skype as well as Nokia—and they’re in the position to challenge in both the fixed and mobile arenas. Samsung also occupy some of that space, but it’s an area that Apple is weak in. Could this be a chink in the iArmour?
Each player has its own battalion of boffins searching for the next game-changing innovation. But what will that be?
We’ve all heard of there being complaints of early iPhones bending in pockets; but what if that was turned into a positive? Would you be interested in a device you could roll up? Apple has already filed patents.
With phones now being used to pay for shopping, as an Oyster card, or an airline boarding pass, security is becoming an issue for many people. Samsung and Apple tried fingerprint controls, which had weaknesses, but Fujitsu is making progress with iris recognition.
A lot of development work is going into holograms and projective devices. Samsung has filed a patent for a light emitting device that could be built into the front of a smartphone case. The idea is that your phone projects images or video onto larger surfaces.
But cramming our phones with an ever increasing variety of functions is unlikely to secure anyone’s future. Why?
Two words … battery life.
The thing about solving the battery problem is that finding something that performs better than the current lithium-ion packs is going to be a hard nut to crack. So don’t expect huge leaps any time soon.
And with that in mind, a lot of effort (especially from Google) is being put into modular smartphones.
Think of Google’s Play Store: lots of different individuals and companies developing apps to meet a variety of demands, and you choose the apps you want on your phone. Now apply that concept to hardware. With a modular phone, you choose the components, meaning you’ll only pay for what you actually want. Additionally, if a component goes wrong, you’ll only need to replace that one component, not the whole phone; and yes, that’s the environment smiling at that idea.
Perhaps the days of the phone giants are limited. Perhaps tomorrow’s fortunes won’t be made by tech companies headquartered in California, Seoul or Redmond, Washington. Perhaps the future isn’t about the iPhone 56 or the Samsung Multiverse XXL. Perhaps the future belongs to smaller operations creating components for our kit-phones.
Dave Millett runs Equinox, a leading independent brokerage and consultancy firm
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”