The Universal Serial Bus (USB) may soon stop at a cell phone near you. Qualcomm plans to hook CDMA phones directly to USB ports on CD drives, printers, digital cameras and other devices so you can download photos, update contacts and print hard copies more easily.
Unlike Bluetooth short-range wireless technology, USB On-The-Go, as the technology is known, requires a cable between the phone and the other device. There are also wireless USB initiatives afoot. Cypress Semiconductor has started selling chips that let keyboards, mice and joysticks talk wirelessly to USB-equipped PCs. While some high-end keyboards and mice already use Bluetooth to replace cables, "this is cheaper and, we think, better," says Cypress wireless applications manager Richard Kapusta.
Wireless USB keyboards should hit stores by midyear. Someday, wireless USB may appear in cordless headsets and home entertainment equipment, but not cell phones, since it lacks necessary networking protocols. Wired USB or Bluetooth will continue there.
Mark Henricks writes on business and technology for leading publications and is the author of Not Just a Living.