Symbian Skull Virus: Skulls will continuously display a flashing skull animation in the background regardless of what application the user is using.

Photo courtesy of © 2006 SMobile Systems

The Future of Smartphones

Smartphones are getting thinner and cheaper, and as a result are entering the consumer market. For the past few years smartphones have been aimed at prosumers, or “professional consumers” (prosumers can also refer to “production consumers”, or consumers who drive the design, production and alteration of a product). Prosumers are generally early adopters of products. They have disposable income and great enthusiasm for particular products or technologies. Smartphone developers find prosumers very useful when designing applications and hardware. As prosumers pick and choose the phones that offer the applications they want, developers can tweak designs and move towards mass production. Analysts predict that one billion smartphone handsets will be sold by 2011 [Source: eCommerce Times].

While input methods will vary, the research firm, ARCchart, forecasts that 38 percent of all mobile phones will use touchscreens or touchpanels by 2012 [Source: LinuxDevices.com]. The iPhone uses an advanced touchscreen, for example, and can even detect multiple points of contact simultaneously.

Security

Perhaps the most challenging consideration for the future is security. Smartphones and PDAs are already popular among many corporate executives, who often use their phones to transmit confidential information. Smartphones may be vulnerable to security breaches such as an Evil Twin attack. In an evil twin attack, a hacker sets a server’s service identifier to that of a legitimate hotspot or network while simultaneously blocking traffic to the real server. When a user connects with the hacker’s server, information can be intercepted and security is compromised.

On the other side, some critics argue that anti-virus software manufacturers greatly exaggerate the risks, harms and scope of phone viruses in order to help sell their software. Read more in the article How Cell Phone Viruses Work.

The incredible diversity in smartphone hardware, software and network protocols inhibit practical, broad security measures. Most security considerations either focus on particular operating systems or have more to do with user behavior than network security.

With data transmission rates reaching blistering speeds and the incorporation of WiFi technology, the sky is the limit on what smartphones can do. Possibly the most exciting thing about smartphone technology is that the field is still wide open. It's an idea that probably hasn't found its perfect, real-world implementation yet. Every crop of phones brings new designs and new interface ideas. No one developer or manufacturer has come up with the perfect shape, size or input method yet. The next "killer app" smartphone could look like a flip phone, a tablet PC, a candy bar or something no one has conceived of yet.

For lots more information on smartphones and related topics, check out the links on the following page.