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Mobile World Congress: Look Ahead

mwc_crystal_ballDespite the organisers’ less than enlightened attitude to bloggers at last year’s 3GSM, absolutely everyone who’s ever put keyboard to WordPress is off to the newly re-christened GSMA Mobile World Congress this year. Except me. I have to stay here and work.

Humph.

Still, the mobile news will be pouring out of Barcelona like un-released Nokia product specs from a German website so here’s a quick round up of a few of the major themes and products that we’re likely to see this year.

The handset manufacturers:

Nokia will probably only announce a couple of handsets as they have other S60-fish to fry this year, so we may see an N96 (the next increment of the N95 line) and possibly the E71 (an E61i successor). An N78 (replacing the N73) and an E66 (an E65 replacement) have also been rumoured.

SonyEricsson have hit the ground running and already announced a pile of handsets that develop ther range with G-series ‘touch-screen organisers’, splash resistant and GPS-enabled C-series camera-phones, W-series high-capacity Walkman-phones, Z-series web and e-mail phones. Much of the coverage, though, will go on the attention-grabbing X1 – a new Windows Mobile-based touch screen and QWERTY keyboard web / multimedia device that is going to make you very happy if you got the phrase ‘QWERTY iPhone’ in the MWC buzzword-bingo draw. For the first live pictures see here.

Motorola have hinted at mobile TV-related launches, but little else.

LG has already launched a high-spec Symbian QWERTY device, possibly a Nokia E90 competitor, but so far have forgotten to release any pictures of it.

Samsung are bringing an additional mini-touch screen for navigation to their existing small form-factor slider handset range and may also be launching a premium, high-spec, Symbian-based N95 competitor.

Modu will also unveil their tediously over-trailed mini-phone thing with ‘jackets’ for differing functions. We generally try to keep the tone fairly positive round here, but can I be the first to say that if this is innovation the world’s gone mad. An easy way to access you phone’s data contents or access mobile data? Bluetooth. Welcome to the 1990’s.

New technologies and first looks:

S60 will give more details on its ‘Touch’ user interface for Symbian phones with a Nokia demo and more details on support for a wider range of sensors for movement and orientation.

Android, Google’s entry into the mobile OS world, will be demonstrated for the first time publicly on a prototype device from ARM. We may also hear more details on possible enterprise uses from the likes of Cisco.

Femtocells will be everywhere with Motorola and Netgear demoing 3G femtocells, demonstrations of up to 3.5G cells connected only to ADSL and products intended for consumer residential use. A GSM ‘in a box’ solution that takes 5 minutes to deploy will also be demoed.

Full web browsing on mobile devices will als obe a hot-topic with Opera making their new 9.5 release mobile browser available for the first time. Nokia too will be updating the native S60 browser, promising a more ‘full web’ experience.

Trends:

Microsoft could well be everywhere as they make eyes at Nokia, launch handsets with SonyEricsson and the continuing Yahoo saga unfolds after what seems the now-inevitable rejection by Yahoo’s board of their offer.

Britain will be well reprented with 150 firms attending – the largest number from one country.

Location services will stay in the limelight with richer mapping / location guides and ‘pedestrian modes’ being common themes. The Nokia Maps beta release features updates in both these areas and Navteq has announced location guides and information for pedestrians (including public transport). Improved location sensing via A-GPS (or something better) will also feature as will WiFi-based location sensing and location-based social networking.

Sagrada_FamiliaFor more reading take a look at the predictions made by the Head of O2’s R&D lab to Mobile Today. And finally… if you damage your phones a lot take a look at a tough phone with a serious guarantee.

Oh yeah and Whatley’s there with SpinVox so watch out for ‘news from the front’ from him if he can drag himself away from the free tapas… Humph.

Left: The famous Gaudi-designed Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona – under construction for almost 150 years, but it will be nice when it’s finished…

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

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