Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Big Week for Smartphones

Everyone involved in mlearning -- from the learners themselves to the good folks designing and creating the content -- is set to benefit from the flood of positive news and announcements this week coming from both device OEMs and the wireless carriers. 

The net result: faster, cheaper and more capable devices as more easily adopted by mobile learners and enterprise workers and, when so equipped, they will help drive demand for more and better mobile learning.

Here are a few of the key announcements this week and my take on the overall impact we might expect:
  1. Google's Nexus One Device Smartphone Announced. The Android movement takes another step leap! down the path with the introduction of a top shelf smartphone designed by and sold direct to market (at US$529 unlocked).  Yes, you can still get a carrier subsidized device if you want (T-Mobile offers it now with Verizon and Vodafone slated to come onboard this Spring), but these mobile powerhouses are designed to work with any carrier network and boast an impressive array of features including a super fast 1GHz processor, the best display yet on a phone (480x800), and voice-enabled access to virtually ever device feature (including email, twitter, etc.).  Running Android v2.1 (no cute baked good name this time around like "Cupcake" or "Donut" or "Eclarie" this time), these new devices will soon sport the new Adobe 10.1 Flash Player as well adding another viable mlearning content type to the mix for these well-equipped learners. If you want to read a nice summary about the device, here's a link to a Tim O'Reilly posting I received today (courtesy of Tom Stone over at ElementK) that highlights the cool features and compares/contrasts the latest round of Android versus iPhone.  
  2. AT&T Adds Android & WebOS Devices.  AT&T is set to expand their smartphone stable by announcing the coming availability of new Android and Palm WebOS-based devices later this Spring.  In the case of Android, they are planning to release devices from Motorola, HTC and Dell (rolling out their first non-Chinese smartphone).  We can only assume the Palm devices will be the Pre and Pixi or some as yet unannounced varient.  With these additions in place, "Ma Bell" will now have support for virtually every major smartphone device under one roof and key enterprise accounts may start to move to diversify their mobile device portfolios meaning the days of "BlackBerry Only" for mobile workers is nigh.
  3. Apple's Tablet Emminent Debut.  Finally, many of us sit in rapt anticipation for Apple's upcomg iSlate/Tablet announcement later this month, rumored to not only have built-in Wi-Fi but possibily having wireless data capabilities too. Several vendors at this week's CES in Las Vegas have already announced or previewed their own tablet offerings and virtually any of these devices will prove compelling mobile learning platforms in the right environments. 
Given we're only six days into the New Year and new decade, I think we're about to reach a Tipping Point (thanks Malcolm Gladwell) in the enterprise mlearning space as highly capable, affordable and compelling hardware running on virtually any network gets combined with heightened levels of market demand, learner interest along with a proven set of flexible and capable authoring tools and platforms.  And after 6+ years of playing in the space, I'm pleased to finally witness the sea change too.

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