Mobile technology has become an essential part of everyday life in the modern world. On the move, in the office, and at home, people want their activities to dictate the technology they use – not the other way around. The challenge that lies ahead for a company like Nokia is to truly master this complexity so that users won’t have to think about where they are or what they want to do. They will just do it.
Mobile companies have previously tended to define mobility services in terms of essentially technical parameters, such as data speed and network frequency. Things are changing, however, and the emphasis is now moving much more towards the user, with technology being seeing as the enabler rather than driver.
Nokia has taken this change very much on board, and is focusing a lot of effort on the area of converging communications. Nokia’s vision is of the mobile device as like a Swiss Army knife, providing users with access to the best technology for the task at hand.
If users want TV, then the solution is DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld). If they want to access their email without the hassle of cables, then the solution is wireless LAN. And if they want to access a building, then Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies are the answer.
Four mobility zones
Nokia sees radio technologies in terms of four mobility zones.
The first and perhaps most familiar of these is wide-area communications over cellular network technologies. These technologies – CDMA and the GSM family, EDGE, WCDMA, and enhanced 3G, known as HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) – work well wherever the user is, and allowroaming.
The second mobility zone encompasses local communications, such as wireless LAN. Operating at a range of between 30 and 100 metres, the high-speed data communications offered by this technology are ideal for a range of needs, including the heavy data traffic generated by business in video conferencing applications in the office environment and other hot spots.
Non-cellular wireless technologies, such as wireless LAN, complement cellular access in both corporate and home environments. This zone also includes high-capacity wireless broadband connectivity in metropolitan areas provided by WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e). Thanks to seamless interconnectivity, mobile devices will be able to optimise the cost for the user and automatically select the fastest and most cost-efficient connection.
|The Nokia 9500 Communicator is the first mobile device usable in both cellular and wireless LAN networks to receive Wi-Fi certification. The Nokia 9500 also features Bluetooth technology.|
The third mobility zone covers a variety of proximity technologies, including Bluetooth and NFC, a technology that enables touch-based interaction for mobile devices. When a device equipped with a NFC reader comes into close contact with a NFC tag, for example, it can read the content of the tag and complete a transaction, such as a ticket purchase.
Working together with the public transport authority in Greater Frankfurt – Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund (RMV) – Nokia and Philips are currently trialling a ticketing solution that uses mobile phones to access an existing contactless smart card ticketing infrastructure.
The fourth, and final, zone covers one-to-many broadcast communications. A good example of this is mobile phone-based TV using DVB-H, a groundbreaking technology that enables multiple television, radio, and video channels to be transmitted to mobile handheld devices simultaneously. Using this technology, users can watch their favourite soap or hockey game – on a bus, a train, or in their backyard.
Nokia is also pioneering multi-channel mobile TV (DVB-H) in collaboration with broadcasters and mobile operators such as M1 in Singapore and O2 in the UK. A number of mobile TV pilot projects are ongoing in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Visual Radio is an exciting combination of technologies that synchronizes graphics and text with radio broadcasts to bring new information, services, and interactivity to mobile phones.
New trials will look at areas such as how a visual element can be added to a phone call by adding still animated images to video messaging and playback. A new service that is evolving here is See What I See (SWIS), where users share what they see with others.
|The N91 premium music device is part of the newNokia NSeries, and features the latest multimedia technologies and smartphone functionalities.|
Prioritising customer benefit
The technologies are here then, and are being developed all the time – and new ones are coming along all the time as well. We need to be realistic, however, about which combinations of these technologies are the most likely to succeed, and in which devices.
The ‘one size fits all’ approach is unrealistic, as performance and data rate needs vary from user to user, as do pricing and flexibility considerations. Different types of users benefit the most from different types of technologies and different devices.
Meeting the needs of users successfully is about offering the right combination of technologies in the right package at the right price, and offering a route forward as users’ needs change and develop.