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The Handset of the Future Needs Wi-Fi

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Like me, the Wi-Fi Alliance is based in Austin, so I asked them if they wouldn’t mind setting up a home tour that would allow me to see the future of Wi-Fi in action. In the segment below, I sit down with Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, whose home I visited to talk about Wi-Fi on handsets as well as the future of Wi-Fi peering, which would create device networks independent of the Internet.

Davis-Felner says the Alliance has certified 249 mobile handsets since 2003, 106 of them this year alone. She expects Wi-Fi on handsets to be more common in the years to come — a prediction that, after reading our readers’ opinions of the BlackBerry Storm shipping without Wi-Fi, I wholeheartedly agree with. And in the last two minutes of the video, Davis-Felner talks about networking WiFi-enabled devices for sharing photos, playing games or printing without ever having to access the web.

9 Responses to “The Handset of the Future Needs Wi-Fi”

  1. Jesse Kopelman

    @Bob Freeman

    WiFi actually provides better battery life than 3G — as all the tests I have seen of handsets with both have demonstrated this unequivocally. So connecting to your fast satellite WiFi will give you more battery life than 3G if battery life is what you want. As for security, do you really think 3G is more secure than WPA2? I assure you it is not. Anyway, it sucks that you can’t make good use of WiFi, but what about the tens of millions that can? I think if a feature is usable by approximately half your market, it is a worthwhile feature to include. And in the case of WiFi it is certainly not expensive, which is why almost every smartphone does already have it.

    Considering that the Blackberry Storm exists solely to counter the appeal of the iPhone, it is not out of place to compare the two. I think both have shortcomings that make them untenable for many. To prefer the iPhone is not really saying all that much. It’s like saying you’d rather be shot in the hand than in the foot.

  2. WiFi connections assume that the end user has a fast wifi connection…There is a huge number of people in the United States who have Satellite, ISDN or God forbid, 56kb modems. Sending a VOIP connection through a 56kb modem is never going to cut it. Where I live, I have good cell connections and a fast Satellite link, but I would never try to use WiFi to go up to a Satellite try to make a voice call.
    No cable or DSL carrier will bring a line up to my house, even though it terminates at the end of the road and even if I offer to pay the installation cost.
    I think it is great that all of the writers and computer experts live in big cities, with fast connection and unlimited wifi, but that is not the situation in the rest of the country.
    Why would I want a Wifi connection that drains the battery when I can have a good cell connection and long battery life?
    All of this discussion is really about the wonderfulness of the Iphone and it’s perfect implementation.
    Lets’ not even go into the security issues with wifi…

  3. Stacey Higginbotham

    Jesse, I know you are right about Verizon and it kills me. They are the network I love to hate. The coverage and even customer service rocks, but damned if they aren’t the most expensive carrier out there and so frustrating the way they limit features. I’m going to start foaming at the mouth if I keep thinking about the way they crimp my nav services.

  4. Jesse Kopelman

    I think, for the most part, _the handset of the present_ already has WiFi. The only doubter is Verizon, but given they have over 30% of the market that is a real 800lb gorilla. Maybe their next move will be to selectively enable WiFi on your device if you pay a monthly service fee, a la GPS.