Why it's important: After faster, more powerful but smaller mobile chips, ubiquitous wireless connections and better input-output methods, centralized storage is the final step toward completely untethering mobile devices and those of us who use them.
What could hold it back: So far, Internet-based storage has not proved popular. It's hard to break old habits of local storage.
So what do we do with these powerful, tiny, highly connected devices with satisfying input and output? The answer, of course, is new, innovative applications.
We can't hope to cover all the potentially disruptive applications of the future, but we can describe why a few will change your life. We'd love to hear your choices in the comments section of this story.
Disruption 10: Unified communications
Huge technology players such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems are pushing for the ability to tie together all forms of communications, including landlines and the various types of wireless. It's a compelling vision that is a stew comprised of many ingredients.
One futuristic ingredient in unified communications is sometimes called "superpresence," which is like a supercharged version of the instant messaging feature that lets you know if a buddy is online. In this case, superpresence could also provide information such as the best method at any given moment to communicate with a person or an estimate of when that they'll arrive at a destination. Users will create rules that say, for example, they can be interrupted by a spouse and boss, but not by others.
Another part of this stew includes technologies already mentioned, such as fixed-mobile convergence and femtocells, because they make it easier to locate and communicate with people Two more ingredients are the ability to transparently route communications to an individual via disparate networks and the ability to share applications in real time via those disparate networks.
Why it's important: One word describes why this is important: productivity. For instance, far-flung project teams will be much more efficient interacting with each other and exchanging ideas and other mission-critical information.
What could hold it back: At some point, employees may tire of being available 24/7, and unified communications will make it even harder than is currently the case to escape from work.