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The New World Of Mobile Computing, by Bruce Scott

By 2004, each corporate knowledge worker will have 3 to 4 different computing and information access devices that will be used to access various applications.
-META Group

In the new world of mobile computing, according to IDC, it's estimated that by the year 2004 there will be 40 million active computing devices, up from 11 million currently. The growth of other handheld devices, like mobile phones, will grow from 300 million devices to a billion by 2004.

What is driving this anticipated growth? There are several factors: the increasing demand for information birthed with the launch of the Internet, and the launch of various technologies enabling the access of information anywhere, anytime, and on everything. One of the primary technologies driving this growth is Java and Java-enabled devices, and the development of Java-based business applications that transform today's gadgets into business tools. The power of Java-enabled devices empowered with a business application using a Java database can always be available and act independently of a constant connection to servers. The user can browse, update offline, and synchronize data occasionally or as required.

Like electricity, information devices will become ubiquitous through every aspect of modern life, providing information where and when it's wanted. The demand for information will push technology to deliver data with low cost of ownership and simplicity. Server-based applications and server appliances will be developed to manage groups of small appliance-like devices. The Java application database will be key to making all of this happen.

We're leaving a world where information is stored in large, complex, and expensive systems controlled by a few and moving to the new world where information is stored everywhere and controlled by many.

Since digital data became available, the demand has been there to free the data from its cumbersome hosts. Many remember that in the beginning data was hosted on expensive mainframes with limited access. Over time, computing started to expand; with the introduction of enterprise servers, desktops, and laptops, data began to free itself more and more. Billions of small points of data are expanding to the outside edge, finding a home within both fixed and mobile Internet appliances, mobilizing information on everything, everywhere, and launching the mobile revolution.

Now, Java applications can extend data beyond servers and onto smart mobile devices such as notebooks and subnotebooks, providing a strong foundation for the deployment of front-office, back-office, and e-business applications to the mobile worker. Moving out and beyond mobile enterprise applications, the unique features of the small-footprint Java application database allow sophisticated applications to be deployed on PDAs, smart phones, and many other Java-enabled consumer devices.

In the new world of mobile data, data is more available and can fit in your pocket and be accessed or updated on diverse mobile platforms. Java is the programming language of the new world. Java aligns with Internet pervasiveness. Java and Java APIs are owned by the developer community, allowing Java to evolve according to the needs of the community, rather than by an oligopoly of a few large technology companies. With Java, a win-win scenario is created. By supporting Java, platform vendors can attract millions of Java application developers. By using Java, application vendors can make their applications available to an unprecedented number of platforms.

For applications on mobile devices to be available always, disconnected usage is the key. Unreliable and costly wireless connections, limited server capacity, and limited battery life make applications dependent on constant wireless access impractical and of limited use. People want their mobile applications to be available regardless of whether they themselves are on an airplane or train or in an elevator shaft. Because of this, the best wireless applications are those that use the wireless connection the least. The wireless connection is used only for periodic bursts of synchronization activity, allowing for the 24/7 access to the wireless application and the data that supports those applications.

What does this mean? It means that knowledge workers will become a part of the most significant technology transformation of the twenty-first century: mobile, pervasive computing. Java will be a core technology enabling the transformation to technology mobility.

Author Bio
Bruce Scott, president, CEO, and founder of PointBase, is a leader in the area of enterprise and embedded database architecture and product development. A cofounder of Oracle in 1977, Bruce cofounded Gupta Technology in 1984, pioneering the notion of the small-footprint database server for Intel-based platforms.
[email protected]

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