By Kim Stokes, Editor-in -Chief,

Compromise is a fact of life. To meet our needs in every aspect of our lives, we have to make compromises. We have to be willing to make compromises in order to achieve our goals, or we will never get anywhere. Compromise can be a good thing sometimes. But sometimes it can be a not-so-good thing — especially when it comes to our 'consumer' personalities. As 2002 begins, compromise will be imperative.

An obstacle for the wireless industry is the development of next-generation handsets. These manufacturers are banking on consumers wanting more functionality out of their wireless phone — email, video clips, games, e-commerce, music, etc. But are designers, or consumers for that matter, willing to compromise some of the criteria that makes owning a cell phone appealing? While it may be necessary to compromise these features to create the "killer app" in next generation handsets, I'm not sure that compromise will be met with open arms.

Size, weight and cost are critical when a consumer selects a cell phone. Let's face it, the smaller, lighter and cheaper a cell phone is, the more we are likely to purchase it. With next-generation handsets, size and weight could possibly revert back to the larger sizes we upgraded from a few years ago. It may be necessary to accommodate the increased functionality. Battery power may also be sacrificed. Design manufacturers have worked very hard to reduce the size and weight of the cell phone, while increasing battery power. The complex applications of next-generation handsets will require more memory, which will make more power necessary. And, adding advanced features to accommodate higher data speeds in next-generation handsets guarantees that the price for next-generation handsets will be higher than what we have become accustomed to.

IC manufacturers are expected to have an increased demand with the surge of next-generation handsets. More applications will require more chips than are in existing handsets. When chip manufacturers solve the challenges that exist in providing support for various technologies like GSM, CDMA, TDMA, and GPRS, their section of the industry is predicted to grow from $13.9 billion in 2001 to $26.4 billion worldwide in 2006, according to a report from Allied Business Intelligence Inc. Their compromise? On the heels of the dreary year of 2001, to realize this growth, they will have to lower chip prices to make them more attractive for handset designers to implement.

A possible solution that handset manufacturers like Motorola and Nokia are looking at is providing multiple devices and targeting a specific device to various market segments.

Most handset manufacturers expect businessmen and women to embrace next-generation handsets that will in essence be a PDA/cell phone. But will the average consumer? They are putting much faith in how businesses rely on employees to be accessible anywhere at anytime. The business world will have to compromise the same as consumers will — more functionality for larger handsets.

As we begin this New Year, compromise seems to be the starting theme. But, compromise can only work if all parties involved are willing to give up a little to get a lot.