Majeed Ahmad KamranThe year 2011 has unmistakably been the year of smartphone and ecosystems housing this magic gizmo. Now 2012 is most likely going to be the extension of that unprecedented momentum that smartphone has been gathering since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007.

About mobile cloud
The next year will be pivotal for Apple to stay ahead of its fast followers and mobile cloud is sure the new battleground. For Apple, cloud initiatives center on the power of apps and related features like storage, while Google’s cloud ambitions seem largely focused on making the best of the web. The cloud movement will also be the next frontier for app developers, especially in areas like high-end games and video.

This year will also be crucial for Microsoft’s bid for relevance in the mobile world. If we see the crystal ball in light of this technology marvel called the cloud computing, it doesn’t take much to figure out that it’s going to be between Apple and Google. For Microsoft, who has so far been going in circles, cloud computing provides yet another rich opportunity to catch up and establish itself as the third horse. Both cloud and speech recognition technologies provide Microsoft with new openings to compete with Apple and Google, at least on paper. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant is known to be doing well in the cloud and it has spent some precious years and research dollars on speech recognition technology over the past years.

Evolution of Siri
All the hype about the so-called mobile butler aside, Apple still has a huge job ahead of it in perfecting the Siri conversational user interface. Eventually, it’ll come down to actually how much value Siri adds. Mindful of the challenges, Apple has set itself a timeline of two years to perfect this smart combo of speech recognition and artificial intelligence. On the other hand, Google has a gigantic challenge in catching up to the magic of Siri, and during this year, we might see what Google has in store to counter Siri’s meteoric rise.

The year of HTML5
Steve Jobs was spot-on when it came to Mobile Flash. The shocking 180-degree twist of Adobe announcing to cease the development of Flash Player for mobile browsers sent one message loud and clear: HTML5 is the way to go for mobile Internet. This could be the year in which HTML5, bringing tremendous advances in browser engines, starts to make an impact. It’d be worthwhile to see how much momentum HTML5 brings to web-based apps against native apps which are still going strong riding on Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.

Smart payments
Though consumers continue to place a high degree of trust in credit card companies and subsequently their relationship with banks, the allure of deals, discounts, offers, digital receipts, location-based coupons, loyalty awards, and other services all integrated into their mobile wallets won’t go unnoticed. How much headway NFC -- the first practical manifestation of mobile wallet -- makes during 2012 is going to be critical for the future of the mobile payment initiative.
The year could also resolve the tug of war among four major stakeholders: smartphone makers, wireless operators, app developers, and credit card companies. Smartphone makers have taken the lead with Google Wallet, and RIM and Nokia are now following the NFC suit. Meanwhile, U.S. mobile phone operators’ digital wallet initiative, Isis, is still work in progress. Wireless companies like Verizon want to get hold of consumer data and bind mobile users to their services.
Interesting times ahead, stay tuned!

Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer ElectronicsMajeed Ahmad is author of new book
“Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the
Crossroads of Communications, Computing
and Consumer Electronics”
available at and other channels