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Cutting-edge gadgets lead way to future business IT

Arif Mohamed

Last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007 in Las Vegas illustrated the extent to which suppliers are developing powerful new technologies for consumers, many of which will find their way into business IT.

Consumers now have access to more powerful communications, mobile, storage and processing technologies than ever before, said one analyst who believed that the past 12 months have been critical in the "consumerisation of technology".

Some of the technologies being showcased at CES include powerline networking in the home, ultra-mobile PCs and digital car technologies.

Enterprise levels of storage are also beginning to enter the home. At CES 2007, Toshiba demonstrated one of the first notebooks with an integrated high definition (HD) DVD-R optical drive, which can burn 30Gbytes of data onto a single HD DVD disc. Such a peripheral device will eventually be installed on desktop PCs.

Voice over Wi-Fi is another technology that is being adopted by consumers first. Last week, BT made its Fusion handset available to consumers via the high street retailer Phones4u. Fusion uses a single mobile handset that works with both mobile and Wi-Fi networks.

BT said it has 40,000 customers for Fusion, most of them consumers. But this move will help drive enterprise adoption as people begin to realise the benefits of such a device.

Richard Edwards, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said that the Fusion concept marks the future of converged communications. "The smart phone form factor is something that people are getting very comfortable with," he said.

Edwards added that over the past 12 months technology has bridged the worlds of home and work, with many consumer products leading the way in innovation.

He cited Skype, instant messaging, blogs and YouTube as consumer technologies that are crossing over into the business world. "We are going to see more consumer innovations and more interesting use of graphics and visualisation to present information," said Edwards.

High-end mobile phones can now offer built-in Skype, instant messaging, the Slingbox TV player and Orb, software that allows mobile users to access their PC files, according to Edwards.

Mobile devices also have Acrobat, Word and Powerpoint readers and broadband web access, said Edwards. "Adding one or two features to a product that is aimed at the high-end consumer will accelerate adoption in business," he added.

More on CES 2007

Show website

Toshiba website

BT website

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