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Value the secret weapon in mobile battle Add to ...

Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. are waging war over smart phones and tablet computers. Here’s a look at what other battles are in store for the consumer technology giants:

1. The television set

Having already changed the way we use smart phones and personal computers, top consumer technology companies are setting their sights on the home television.

Some analysts say Apple could introduce a branded television set soon, and Google’s recent purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of TV set-top boxes, could see that company stepping up its television presence.

“Ultimately we’ll have an environment where that same ecosystem [of the smart phone and personal computer]will be available on TV,” says Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial in New York.

2. Cloud computing

By storing files on a remote server, users can access them from any device, anywhere. The technology is already widespread: Google stores users’ e-mail and documents on its servers, and Apple recently unveiled iCloud, which will push users’ iTunes library, photos, documents and other information onto the company’s servers to make them accessible from various devices.

RIM just launched BBM Music, a cloud-based music storage system in which subscribers pay to access a catalogue of songs and create a personal playlist.

“It’s really just starting,” said Mark Tauschek, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “All of these companies recognize the importance of it.”

3. Near-field communication

Near-field communication allows smart phone users to pay for a purchase using their device. All a user needs to do is type a password into their phone and hold it near a pay pad.

Google is set to launch a wallet app to work with the system, and Mr. Tauschek said it’s rumoured that Apple will embed the technology in its iPhone 5.

“When the first vendor comes out with it in a way that it’s widely deployed and purchased, others will say, ‘Oh, we better get on this,’” Mr. Tauschek said.

4. Enterprise security

RIM built its brand on being the most secure option for enterprises, and that niche of the smart phone market has long been the company’s bread and butter.

But that dominance may not last much longer. “Increasingly people are saying ‘I want to bring my iPhone or my Android to work. I don’t really want to carry around [my]BlackBerry,’” Mr. Tauschek said.

Apple’s products are increasingly viewed as acceptable for enterprises, in part because the company’s mobile device management service makes it possible to remotely lock or wipe a phone clean.

Kim Mackrael

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