1999: The Year of Access Computing
By Stephen Lawton
In the early 1980s, one market
research firm proclaimed the "Year of the Color Printer" three
years in a row. This was not because of the growth of the technology,
but in anticipation of it. One could easily identify the past two years
as the Years of the Network Appliance, but not because of anticipation.
(In this case, I do not use "Network Appliance" in the same
manner of Oracle's Larry Ellison. Rather, I'm referring to any network-attached
- or Internet-attached - device that is not necessarily a computer.) So
much has happened to advance both the technology and the application of
the technology, that such an annual moniker would not be inappropriate.
In recognition of this growing trend to access
computing rather than process computing, MicroTimes is changing
too. Our Mobile Computing and Computing Telephony sections, created just
this past year, are merging into one simply called Mobile Computing. Here
we will address such issues as PDAs, remote access, smart phones, Internet
access tools and other device-oriented Internet issues. Generally speaking,
these are the Access Computing devices.
Coverage of call centers, communications servers
and other infrastructure-oriented computer telephony issues move to the
Networking section. The former Desktop Systems section is being shortened
to Systems in order to better identify and expand coverage of workstations,
notebook computers, peripherals, and trends on the client side of client/server
If the Internet is the consummate server
in the client/server paradigm, what is the corresponding client? That
is a question that might well be answered during the next 12 to 24 months.
Is it the Web-attached PDA? Maybe it's the notebook/desktop client? Could
it be a new technology that has yet to come to market? Whatever it is,
you'll learn about how it will impact you and your business here.
In the meantime, here are some access computing
technologies and issues that we think are going to be standard fare by
the end of the year:
· PDA Access Devices: PDA users know that
keeping their telephone database and calendar in their pockets are useful,
but connecting to the Internet to send and receive e-mail, as well as
downloading pertinent Web pages, is critical.
· Wireless: We anticipate significant
growth in the wireless networking market, bolstered by radio antennas
small and powerful enough to be built into the PDA and notebook housings.
Of course, PDA vendors aren't the only ones looking
at this segment. Nokia's 9000 already addresses this market, but the phone,
with a $1,000 retail price tag, is still considerably too expensive and
too large to dominate the market. It is, however, a step in the right
· Voice/Data Networks: For the office,
we anticipate wireless networks will begin to make more inroads and loose
their identity as a "niche market" player. Although wireless
will become more mainstream, it never will bypass wired networks for one
very simple reason: convergence.
Look for mainstream systems vendors like Compaq
and IBM to offer products in this market. Additionally, expect traditional
telephony companies to offer more voice over IP (VOIP) services and continue
to buy up the smaller VOIP vendors. Merger mania isn't ending - it's just