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Four Factors Influence Mobile Phone Design

The design of the Apple iPhone has made a major impact, according to In-Stat. Regardless of whether it meets its target sales figures, the iPhone has already been an unparalleled success in one regard -- its influence on the global mobile handset market.

In-Stat believes that there have been innovative, exciting cellphones in the past -- the Motorola StarTAC was the iconic device of 1995, introducing the clamshell phone design. The PDA + thumb keyboard design of the Handspring Treo thrilled mobile phone users in 2001.

It could be argued that mobile handset design has changed very little since the StarTAC and Treo changed our vision of mobile phones -- at least until now. The iPhone brings a number of innovations that could start to appear in more mainstream handsets:

- Touch screen that covers the entire face of the phone.

- Intuitive two-finger touch screen gestures that open, move and stretch objects.

- Accelerometer sensors to determine whether the device is being used in landscape or portrait display mode.

- Proximity sensors to disable the touch screen and turn off the display backlight when the device is held next to the user's head.

In addition to the iPhone, In-Stat believes that there are three other important factors that will have a strong influence on the design and function of mobile handsets.

Alternative Networks -- Wi-Fi is maturing and becoming available in more locations, both as hotspots and municipal networks; businesses are increasing their deployment of Wi-Fi systems as well. Both trends suggest that Wi-Fi voice calling will become more common. WiMAX deployments could also shape the use of mobile handsets and could lead to a new generation of mobile devices. In addition, the 3G standard TD-SCDMA could become important, providing it is accepted by the Chinese government.

Mobile Video -- Ongoing testing and deployment of mobile broadcast networks (e.g., MediaFLO and DVB-H) as well as other sources of video for mobile devices will require changes to mobile devices in order to provide the best viewing experience. Changes will require additional semiconductors to receive and decode digital signals, larger displays with higher quality and, in some cases, external antennas.

Corporate Use -- Businesses are expected to increase the number of handsets under their control rather than making use of employees' personal phones, thereby increasing the number of corporate-owned cellphones. This trend will shape the accessories, applications, and security of these corporate-liable handsets.

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