While mobile devices make it easier for users to communicate and exchange information on the move, many of the users still get frustrated when they try to carry out e-commerce transactions using their mobile devices. This is largely due to the fact that mobile devices are new, and the technology associated with these devices is still evolving. It will take time before these limitations can be addressed. In this section, we briefly discuss some of these limitations and highlight some of the research and developments taking place in each area:
Most mobile devices have limited memory storage. This is set to change in the near future. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, which is considered one of the industry's leading suppliers of advanced semiconductor memory technology, announced that it has begun to work on a 2 Gbit NAND Flash memory utilizing the 90 nanometer design. The NAND Flash memory can be set in a 4 Gbyte memory card to store data equivalent to 70 CDs or 40 minutes of DVD-quality video data.
Limited processing power
Many of the services provided over the Internet, such as gaming, music, and video, require faster machines and higher memory levels. It is expected that the Intel PXA250 and PXA210 chips will enable mobile phones and handheld computers to deliver music, video, and games at higher speeds and better quality.
Different technologies and standards
Until now, vendors competed to provide mobile devices without adhering to any particular standards. This will change in the future, as mobile device manufacturers start to realize that it is in their interests to cooperate and use open standard technology. In May 2002, Nokia and Siemens Information and Communication Mobile announced that the companies agreed on a framework of collaboration to create and drive the implementation of mobile terminal software based on open standards. Such efforts will help to open the door for more players and more collaboration.
Small keyboards and input method
Most mobile devices have only a numeric keypad and a small number of cursor keys. This limits their usage and makes them more difficult for users to use to interact with services and navigate through remote Internet sites containing large amounts of content. Given that, keyboard and mouse interaction could be replaced by voice- and pen-based interactions.
Screen size and color
While screen resolution continues to improve, and color screens are becoming the norm, screen sizes are likely to remain small, as users prefer small and portable devices. However, this might change when electronic paper becomes available. Electronic paper is a paper-like sheet made up of thousands of microcapsules that are electrically charged to display white or black ink, or any other pair of colors. When this technology is commercialized, it will revolutionize the mobile devices industry, due to the fact that electronic papers can be folded and stored in a small pocket.
Batteries are important for the mobility and portability of mobile devices. Batteries run out quickly in most handheld devices. This is especially true if the user is on the move and has no time to charge the battery. There is an ongoing effort to reduce consumption of power and increase battery life for mobile devices. Some of these efforts include new battery technologies, like the fuel cell.
Simplicity of user interface
When you are on the move, you cannot afford to read instructions or manuals when you want to perform certain operations. The ability to access applications and data within, literally, a few keystrokes is very important in mobile devices. User interfaces need to be friendly and attractive. Graphical capability is another issue that constrains the development of attractive interfaces on mobile devices.
As the number of mobile users increases, there will be greater demand for shared wireless capacity. There is still a lot of development work to be done to improve the limitations of mobile devices and network bandwidth. New products, such as Wi-Fi5, which is based on high-speed standards and runs in 5 Ghz spectrums and provides up to 54 Mbps, are starting to reach the market. The network bandwidth is expected to improve in the next few years, and the number of users is expected to grow as well.
Stability and dropouts and connectivity
For many users on the move, connectivity is very important. In order to maintain connectivity and minimize dropouts, mobile devices should have the ability to save and minimize the loss of data, while conducting transactions.
Pen-based interaction on a touch-screen could potentially replace the mouse, while voice-based interaction could be used for activation and control of functions like voice dialing. Access control for voice recognition and speed could enhance the usability of mobile devices and open the door for new types of applications.