But Where Is This Going?
The bottom line is, as always, money and, as always, the fastest way to get consumers to part with their hard-earned dollars is through entertainment. Ringtones, dial tones, wallpaper and so on—it's all entertainment.
But get ready. The next big step in cell phone commerce is being marked by the music industry. Smarter cell phones, that will allow you to play back music in exactly the same way you would with an MP3 Player, are already emerging on the market. Indeed, the continued extension of the cell phone as rich media device prompted Bill Gates to snub the explosion of iPods as merely a precursor to the Big Bang of MP3playing cell phones. Of course, Bill would also like to have all those phones using Microsoft's mobile technologies, too.
Moving music to your cell phone is not going to be very hard. I fully expect this move to come swiftly. Don't expect to see many changes in the way you pay for music on your cell phone from that of traditional online music stores, such as iTunes and Napster.
Apple Computer is the one contender that may cause a huge upset in this market. Rumors of an iPod Cell Phone have floated around the industry almost as long the rumors of Apple switching core chip technologies to Intel. Whether or not Apple does produce such a phone will largely depend on whether the cell phone companies will play ball with iTunes. The big test will be Motorola supporting iTunes a feature available Fall 2005 Along with Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, and Samsung, Motorola is one of the Big Four cell phone companies that can carry enough clout to dictate massive changes in the industry. This possibility may also keep Bill Gates awake at night, too.
Naturally following music on cell phones, will be the advent of personalized video. Why wait for the latest version of ER when you can watch it on demand on your cell phone?
Further technologies will certainly include multi-user games. You probably have games on your cell phone now. But, if you check out the latest phones, such as Nokia's nGage, you'll see that the phone is secondary to the game system. This is a great idea, because the network for playing these games is now being built into the phones themselves. The rapid speed with which the phones are evolving will mean that soon cell phone games will be rich, 3D worlds that are reasonable copies of top PC games.