Is the pocket PC shaping the mobile device market?

Mobile wireless devices are taking the technology market by storm.
Currently it’s not clear which device design and software platform will be dominant.

While Microsoft is assumed to be the de facto choice because of their dominance of the PC market, I think it is too early to tell if Microsoft is really going to lead the wireless device market.

Microsoft certainly could take the lead if they are able to write a bug-free MOS (Mobile Operating System) software.

The key is an integrated phone and computing device with a high-speed wireless Internet connection.

The integration of an OS into the device is critical to user reliability and ease of use.

Microsoft does not have a history of manufacturing the hardware to fit their software.

They have always just made the software piece and left the hardware components to a hardware vendor.

There is a good chance that the successful mobile devices will follow more the Apple model.

Don’t count Apple out of this market. Palm and Apple both make the hardware and software.

This is the formula that will foster the development of better mobile devices.
But Microsoft has so much brand power in the market that you can never count them out.

Microsoft will always have a large chunk of the market. The question is whether they will play second fiddle, like they do in the set-top box and game console markets.

Microsoft struggles with usability and compatibility on many different hardware configurations and drivers.

This has created the buggy nature of all the Microsoft operating system software. These problems have not entirely been Microsoft’s fault.

They have just needed to support so many different drivers and software programs that there is bound to be conflicts.

We are seeing Symbian OS closely tied to Nokia, and Linux powering other new portable handheld devices.

Linux can be a very good choice for mobile devices. Linux supports numerous installation methods, works in many heterogeneous environments and needs smaller resources.

These OS’s are all similar strategies to Microsoft’s Pocket PC in that they are not part of an integrated device design.

The design is based more on a PC model that favors the separation of software developers and hardware folks.

The past has shown that this separation allows a creative environment that inspires aggressive development of applications for the hardware and OS.

We are already hearing early Pocket PC adopter’s say that the devices are buggy and that they have more problems linking up with MS-Outlook than the Palm devices do.

This is a warning flag that things are following the same pattern as the regular Windows OS for the desktop.

I have only heard praise for the Palm and Apple devices like the iPod, which is also a backup storage device.

The iPod will soon offer PDA or Pocket PC-like software features and may one day be a major player in the mobile computing device market.

Wireless Internet access is a huge opportunity with the coming new mobile Internet-enabled computing/phone devices.

The question is how can we browse the Web with those tiny screens? Opera Software in Norway has recently announced new Internet browser software for Web-enabled phones and PDAs.

It appears that this new browser will save Web developers time and redundant coding efforts.

Most of the current small screen browsers filter Web page content to make it fit on the small screen.

The Opera 7 browser reformats the entire HTML Web page to display on the devices.

Developers don’t have to manually rewrite them in a format for small-screen devices. Websites only have to support one format: HTML.

The Opera Small-Screen Rendering technology will appear on phones.
Opera currently ships as the default browser on Symbian smartphones and on Sharp’s line of Zaurus PDAs.

The technology aims to cut scrolling in half by stacking the content of a Web page vertically. You will not have to scroll side to side.

It also supports Javascript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) on mobile devices.

Screen displays will need to get larger on PCS cell phones and the screens will grow slightly smaller on the Pocket PC type devices as phone abilities are added.

The types of screen will also improve over the years to use very low power E-Ink electronic paper type screens. These displays are extremely light weight and low cost.

This E-Ink technology may also enable you to change the color and pattern of your actual device by downloading a skin onto the surface of your phone.

The skin of your phone will one day be coated with E-Ink media that displays color and pattern.

The coming high-speed 2.5G and 3G Internet access brings lots of data, which will force these mobile devices to need greater and greater storage capacity. We all faced this experience with our PCs.

The mobile devices of today are very light on memory. Most of these devices come with 32 MB of ROM or RAM storage and the expensive devices come with a whopping 64MBs of RAM.

Expanding the memory of one of these devices will allow you to top out at 128MB, but the new cards will soon come in 256MB, 512MB and 1GB capacities.

I have also heard that cards are coming out in 5 GB capacities. Storage capacity and fast CPU speeds like this brings the ability to install larger and more capable software.

This all creates real computing power in your hand or in your clothes. Look out for wearable computers.

This combination of phone, large storage and fast CPU speed with a high-speed Internet connection creates a future that will enable all of us to change the way we all work and play.

Rob Greenlee is host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. He is the husband of regular Index technology columnist Dana Greenlee.