There was a time when a handle on the side of the box was all it needed for its vendor to call it 'portable.' (Yes, I have carried a 28-pound Compaq Portablethrough an airport, and I don't long for the chance to do it again.) Don't fall into the trap, however, of thinking that smaller size and lighter weight are the only important dimensions.
As people feel the need to be connected everywhere, all the time, developers are challenged by the rapid rise of those mobile users' expectations. That's one of the most important reasons for mobile app developers, including enterprise systems partners, to focus their efforts on high-leverage cloud platforms such as Force.com – as I noted during remarks to nearly 300 solution providers in Phoenix, yesterday morning, at Ingram Micro's Cloud Summit event. (Further thoughts on the past year of change in the cloud, and the future opportunities of broader cloud adoption, are in the four-minute video that we shot there following my keynote.)
In fact, I was already thinking about the meaning of true device mobility before I got to Phoenix, thanks to a conversation last week in Las Vegas with Sridhar Solur (general manager of Hewlett-Packard ePrint Services) when we both spoke at Toshiba's 'Fast Forward' conference. Solur was vigorous in his challenge to the audience to think about true mobile devices as having many important attributes besides wireless connection, long battery life and negligible size/weight.
The mobile device, Sridhar observed, should deal with the continually changing context of its user: it should be location-aware, motion-aware, and environment-aware. A device should use location sensors such as GPS to let it interact with applications and with other resources—such as nearby large-screen displays and printers—and let the user take advantage of those resources in a manner that's free of what Sridhar calls "the tyranny of the device and the operating system"; a device should use motion and ambient noise sensors to make useful inferences about what the user might be doing, and whether it's more appropriate to use visual or audio signals and content modes to get the user's attention and deliver information.
This is what it's going to take to satisfy the essential requirements of being social, mobile and open. From now on, any enterprise solution—comprising secure and reliable access to data, agile and accurate implementation of function, and robust ease of use in varied settings—must address all three of those expectations to be eagerly adopted and effectively used.