One of the few guarantees there are in the IT industry is that technology never stands still. No sooner have you or your children updated to the latest must–have products, when everyone starts talking about something else which is cheaper, smaller, faster, more efficient or has 101 more uses than you ever realised you needed. Keeping ahead of the game can be difficult, so here are some names you could be hearing about soon.
Android: For many parents, with each Christmas or birthday comes a request for a new mobile phone. This year’s favourite will most likely be an Android smartphone. It can do everything an iPhone can – surf the web, send/receive emails, update Facebook, load apps - but at a fraction of the cost. The Software (called Android) is provided by Google. However, you have a wider choice of handsets as they’re not restricted to one particular manufacturer; prices range from £80 to £500. Be careful though with your contract or tariff - watch out for high data usage as this is where phone networks make substantial profits.
ZTE and Huawei: These are two largely unheard of Chinese electronics companies to watch out for, with big ambitions to become telecoms market leaders. ZTE products are already available in the UK high-street but are currently sold as mobile-phone company own-brand products. Huawei equipment is now filling large portions of BT exchanges. Expect them to push their own brands in the next few years, much as Acer has done with PCs, selling direct to the public. Rumours are Apple is preparing a cut-price iPhone in response to the cheap Android phones produced by these and other companies.
ARM: A British company (descended from the company that made the BBC Micro Computer in the 1980’s) who specialises in designing efficient processors (CPUs). Virtually every mobile phone and tablet on the market has a processor designed by ARM. Their efficient designs mean that some mobile phones now have the power of a five year old laptop but use relatively little battery power. Unfortunately, the wireless/3G chips also in a mobile phone are not so efficient and will run down a battery quickly. However, there wouldn’t have been an iPhone or iPad without ARM – the products from their competitors Intel and AMD are just too big and power-consuming. It won’t be long before full-size laptops appear with ARM processors.
Netflix: Nothing to do with phones, but for a payment of $7.99/month, Netflix will let you watch unlimited films on your TV over the Internet. So for the cost of one trip to the cinema you could watch dozens of movies (in HD) at home …… but not in the UK! In the USA, Netflix accounts for 30% of all Internet traffic. Why is it not in the UK then? Potentially it’s on the way, but maybe the delay has something to do with the BBC and Sky, but what do I know! Oh, if you were wondering why you need high-speed broadband (>10Mbps), this is the reason.
Google+ (Google plus): Think Facebook, from Google. This is Google’s latest attempt to topple Facebook and this time they might just succeed. With Facebook employees getting ready to sell their shares and retire, Facebook’s new investors will likely want to see the company’s profits increase. So Facebook users need to prepare for more adverts. Google will then be in an ideal position to collect all the Facebook defectors. At the moment, obtaining Google+ access is only possible by invitation. It is being marketed as something a bit exclusive and is raising people’s curiosity. The functionality has also been praised, so could this be the beginning of the end for Facebook?
© Peter Johnston, ByteSupport Ltd 2011.