With faster, more ubiquitous access, devices can start to radically change.
"Imagine a Bluetooth headset in your ear but that's the phone," said Dan Burrus, CEO of Burrus Research Inc. and author of the book Technotrends. "And it will continue to get smaller from there until it's implanted in your ear. You ask for whatever you need [with your voice] and it will tell you the answers."
However, smaller, more powerful phones themselves will be the end result of several enabling disruptions, Burrus and the other experts agree. These disruptions may seem relatively minor but, added together, they will result in the phones and applications of tomorrow.
Disruption 5: Miniscule, less power-hungry mobile chips
Chip vendors have been talking about smaller, more powerful and less power-hungry chips for a long time. Now, development of such chips is likely to accelerate.
"Companies like Intel have focused on putting more transistors on a chip and making their products more powerful," said Anthony Townsend, research director at Institute for the Future. "It takes a while to turn a ship like that around." The rapid growth of all things mobile is accelerating that trend, Townsend said.
Besides being smaller and significantly more power efficient, tomorrow's mobile chip sets will also combine multiple radios, such as Wi-Fi, 3G and WiMax, on a single chip, according to the experts.
Why it's important: Smaller, more powerful chips mean smaller, more powerful mobile devices and applications. Combined with faster, ubiquitous wireless broadband, that means devices can be sewn into clothing, placed unobtrusively into ears or even implanted in your teeth.
What could hold it back: Do people really want devices that small?
Disruption 6: Wireless USB and ultrawideband
These short-range, wireless cable replacement technologies are starting to be available. Admittedly, they lack the gee-whiz factor, but they eventually will make life much easier for mobile users.
Why it's important: At the very least, it will be nice to synchronize data between devices and desktops wirelessly. Short-range wireless cord replacements will also be useful for entertainment applications such as streaming video throughout the home. But the real benefit will be using these technologies with tiny mobile devices, according to Derek Kerton, principal of the Kerton Group, a telecommunications consulting firm.
"If we get miniscule phones, they could use wireless USB or UWB to connect to a full-sized keyboard," Kerton said. "Or we could have tiny devices that [use these technologies to] project usable keyboards on desks or images on walls."
What could hold it back: Not much. These technologies are already well established and should become widely used in the next couple of years.