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There's no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to new technology. Some devices, like the BlackBerry, catch on in a big way; others, like tablet PCs, come with a lot of hype but slow sales. That won't stop us from trying to predict what the next must-have tech tool for entrepreneurs might be. Here are two experts' best guesses--and ours.
Sanjeev Aggarwal, VP of SMB IT Infrastructure Solutions, AMI-Partners:
Microsoft Response Point VoIP Solution
The future of business communications is heading in the direction of VoIP, but it has been slow going for growing businesses in need of an easy-to-install, easy-to-use VoIP system. All that could change this year with the arrival of Response Point and its voice-activated commands feature. Microsoft makes the software, and partners D-Link, Quanta and Uniden manufacture the IP-PBX and IP phones. Says Aggarwal, "It's designed for businesses with 50 [or fewer] employees that don't have access to a good, easy-to-use, affordable system."
James Rankin, Technology Specialist, CDW-G:
Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex
"Ruckus Wireless is the first wireless vendor [to] combine high performance, centralized management and enterprise-class security features--all at a price point that's favorable to small businesses," says Rankin. ZoneFlex is a multimedia wireless LAN system. It aims to bring high-level security and easy installation to growing businesses that have previously relied on either consumer Wi-Fi systems or enterprise systems that require IT help to set up. ZoneFlex units start at $259, with 802.11n devices due out this fall.
No, not the current iPhone--the next one. Whether Apple or another company makes it, the next incarnation of an iPhone-type smartphone will be the one that really gets entrepreneurs excited. It will build on the iPhone's large, multitouch display and user-friendly features but add 3G support, a higher-end camera, more memory, flexibility in carrier choice, GPS and a wider variety of business-friendly applications. It will be a gadget that truly delivers on the promise of the smartphone. Think of the current iPhone as a prototype of what's to come.