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Phones

Mobile broadband is set to explode

With powerful Web-friendly phones becoming more common, it won't be long before the Internet/real world divide dissolves into a distant memory

According to research carried out by Juniper, there will be over 1.2 billion people using mobile broadband on mobile phones and laptops by 2012. I think the next few years are going to be a turning point not only for how we access the Internet, but also, more importantly, how we use it.

The 'Internet outside', as I'm going to call it, means much more than just being able to search Google at a bus stop. The Internet outside means having access to information and services almost everywhere you go, which will change how those services work and what they offer.

How you use the Internet will also be significantly different to how you use it on a desktop computer. Not being chained to a cable or wireless hotspot will create a real/virtual parallel so closely knitted it might be difficult to detach yourself from your phone or laptop even when interacting with other people or objects.

You might make a new friend, for example, and immediately add them to Facebook. Then you might see some shoes in a shop window and see if you can get them cheaper on the Internet. As you walk further down the high street you see a fight break out and film it on your phone, then immediately upload it to YouTube so all your friends can check it out. You then get an instant message from a mate telling you how mad the fight looked, which you reply to immediately.

Of course, some people are already doing all of the above, but by Juniper's estimates it won't be long before we're all online even when we're offline.