mobile computing Essay

This essay has a total of 1482 words and 9 pages.

The fundamental purpose of this paper is to illustrate that mobile computing is a
versatile and potentially strategic technology. It has fast become an important new
prototype in today?s world of networked computing systems. Ranging from wireless laptops
to Bluetooth enabled Personal Digital Assistants (PDA?s), mobile computing has become
universal in its impact on our daily lives.

According to Aranda, mobile computing is defined as the ability to use technology that is
not physically connected to any static network. In addition, it is used to describe the
use of computing devices, while away from the normal, fixed workplace. Mobile computing
technology enables the portable worker to create, access, process, store, and communicate
information without being constrained to a single location (2007).

Mobile computing is accomplished using a combination of computer hardware, system and
applications software, and some form of communications medium. The characteristics of
mobile computing hardware are defined by the size and form factor, weight, microprocessor,
primary storage, secondary storage, screen size and type, means of input, means of output,
battery life, communications capabilities, expandability, and durability of the device
(Dhawan, 1997). Users? need and want access to their data wherever they go and they will
use a wide assortment of mobile computing devices to get it. Although a lot of mobile
hardware has many eye-catching characteristics, the decision about which hardware to
employ should be based entirely on the needs of the business.

Mobile computers make use of a wide variety of system and application software. The most
common system software and operating environments used on mobile computers include: MSDOS,
Windows NT, Windows for Pen Computing, Windows CE, PenDOS, PenRight, Palm OS, and UNIX.
Each operating system or environment has some form of integrated development environment
(IDE) for application development. Most of the operating environments provide more than
one development environment option for custom application development. All mobile
computing application software does not have to be custom designed. Prewritten application
software can be purchased for many application areas, such as sales force automation.
Additionally, many companies that develop mobile computing software offer systems
integration services and will work with the client to modify their existing application to
fulfill the client's specific needs (Besaha, 1998).

According to the author of ?Programming Microsoft Windows CE?, the real power of mobile
computing becomes apparent when mobile hardware, software, and communications are
?optimally? configured and used to accomplish a specified mobile task. Although many
varied applications exist, mobile computing applications can generally be divided into two
categories, which are horizontal or vertical. Horizontal applications have broad-based
appeal and include software that performs functions such as email, Web browsing, word
processing, scheduling, contact management, to-do lists, messaging, and presentations.
Vertical applications are industry specific and only have appeal within the specific
industry for which the application was written. Vertical applications are commonly used in
industries such as: retailing, utilities, warehousing, shipping, medical, and law
enforcement and public safety (Boling, 1998).

Mobile computing offers significant benefits for organizations that choose to integrate
the technology into their fixed organizational information system. Mobile computing is
made possible by portable computer hardware, software, and communications systems that
interact with a non-mobile organizational information system, while away from the normal,
fixed workplace. Mobile computing is a versatile and potentially strategic technology that
improves information quality and accessibility, increases operational efficiency, and
enhances management effectiveness (Muller, 1998).

?Mobile computing also allows one to conduct business at the point of activity. The
ability to collect, access, and evaluate critical business information quickly and
accurately means better decision making that can have a far reaching effect on one?s
company ability to compete successfully? (Muller, 1998). Mobile computing gives your
field worker the ability to answer customer questions and provide other services anytime
their customers need them from wherever they happen to be.

Nevertheless, mobile computing has a variety of technical limitations as well. According
to Muller, insufficient bandwidth is an issue, because if the user needs access to a
network such as the internet on the go, they must resort to slow wireless WAN systems
primarily intended for telephone use. Higher speed wireless LAN?s are only available in
specific sites. Security standards and power consumption are additional problems as well.
When working mobile, one is dependent on public networks, requiring careful use of VPN?s
and since the grid cannot be used, mobile computers must rely entirely on battery power.
In other words, this means unusually expensive batteries must be used. Weather and
terrain problems as well as distance limited connection exist when transmission
interferences occur; this leads to poor reception in tunnels, warehouses, and in some
buildings. Potential health damage from cellular radio frequency emission is not known
yet, however more car accidents are related to drivers who were utilizing a mobile device
(1998).

The ability of a mobile computer to communicate in some fashion with a fixed information
system is a defining characteristic of mobile computing. The type and availability of
communication medium significantly impacts the type of mobile computing application that
can be created. The way a mobile computing device communicates with a fixed information
system can be categorized as connected, weakly connected, batch, or disconnected. The
connected category implies a continuously available high speed connection. The ability to
communicate continuously, but at slow speeds (less than 28 Kbps), allows mobile computers
to be weakly connected to the fixed information system. A batch connection means that the
mobile computer is not continuously available for communication with the fixed information
system. In the batch mode, communication is established randomly or periodically to
exchange and update information between the mobile computer and fixed information systems
(Dhawan, 1997).

?Mobile computers may operate in batch mode over communication mediums that are capable of
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