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Mobile Unified Communications and Tablets: Are We (Almost) There Yet?

Two missives in two days.  When was the last time you saw that here?  See, I told you that things were going to finally settle down and I could actually focus again on my beloved enterprise mobility!  I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this article over at Light Reading where Sprint executive Jeff Adelmann talks about the opportunities for integrating voice services onto tablets.  That made me obviously think about mobile unified communications.

I love mobile unified communications….at least in theory, that is.  If you recall, mobile UC started off a few years back as Fixed Mobile Convergence and I thought it was the next killer app after email.  At the time, I thought it was going to be the next big thing because it is to voice was email on your BlackBerry was.  I even thought it was cool to call it “Push Voice.” That never caught on really.  Neither did FMC.

So now we jump to present day where a broad array of companies have adopted unified communications systems.  We also have cool systems like Skype that provide audio and video conferencing for both your smartphone and your tablet.  Don’t you just love that front-facing camera?

But how are you really going to integrate voice services onto your tablet?  A few scenarios come to mind:

  1. Your WWAN enabled tablet can have its own number – but that flies in the face of reducing costs because now you’re managing not just two data plans, but two voice plans.
  2. Maybe you could press a button on your smartphone and “transfer” your SIM card’s number onto your tablet so you don’t have to have two voice plans but that seems rather complex to me.
  3. You could just do it all over WiFi – but WiFi still isn’t 100% pervasive (and besides do you really want to do a work conference call where you’re sharing corporate files via a public WiFi service?)
  4. You could, through the power of “automagical software,” use the WiFi on your tablet for the video component and the file sharing and simultaneously use the radio on your smartphone for the voice component to somehow merge everything into one system – cuz that’ll work.

The above three scenarios are all directly related to how you could in theory use mobile UC on steroids for work.  But there’s the other part of your day – your personal time (remember what that is?) where you might want to do similar things with friends and family.  So how would THAT co-exist on this new automagical system?

I have no clue.

The point however is that the personal and professional applications of what could be done by completely merging voice, data, video, smartphones and tablets into ONE uber mobile – and truly – unified communications environment sounds mighty appealing to me.  I just wonder if and when we’ll ever get to that communications nirvana.


  1. Posted November 15, 2011 at 05:48 | Permalink

    I like the idea Philippe! We’ve gotten used to having a SIM card in our tablets, but is it really necessary… Most smartphones have tethering capabilities for data, so why not do the same with voice/video calls? When the tablet is on and connected to my smartphone, forward all calls to this device. Whether or not you optimize your use of 2g/3g/4g bandwidth through the use of wifi (for the video part for instance) is yet another question… I think the tricky part is really the identification of the user and his prefered device. And updating in real time :)

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    • Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:17 | Permalink

      Mathieu – I’ll argue that Mobile UC as a whole is a good idea…but there are still enough tricky parts that make the real world adoption of mobile UC (sadly) still elusive.

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