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Thoughts on the year, 2008 in review

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As the year starts to draw to a close, we thought we’d look back at significant moments in the mobile world during 2008. Ponderings where you can sit down with your grand children one day and say ‘yes, I was there when it happened’, or if you’re too senile by then, they can tell you all about and you can call them liars.

Either way, the following is a recap and in no particular order of occurrence, or importance on what or how they happened in the year of our Lord two thousand and eight.

If there happens to be anything you think we’re missing or paid little or no attention to, please feel free to drop a comment in at the base of this.

The QWERTY keyboard based Smartphones saw a huge resurgence in 2008. With the ‘normal’ near PC layout design of the HTC Touch Pro, Xperia X1, HTC S740 all with their own worth and merits being fairly popular. Along with likes of the keyboard-moulded-around-handsets gaining ground with the BlackBerry Bold, Curve 8900, Nokia E71 and soon to be seen E63.

No one can ignore how well the touch screen phones have done, especially with the likes of the iPhone. Earlier on in the year we saw the 16GB version of the 2G arrive on the scene. Following on from that model the 3G version later on in 2008; although it must have irked some people that it came in so cheap as compared to the 2G version a year earlier. iRage must have been the name for that symptom surely?

HTC had a good year with their Touch Diamond being their best selling handset to date. Just to build on that success, they built the world’s first Google Android powered phone in the G1. Even more kudos has to go to them, for building Sony Ericsson’s first ever Windows Mobile phone with the Xperia X1. They certainly came out of their shell, after really only being known as makers of the SVP Orange handsets.

BlackBerry broke form with two phones in 2008. They launched their first flip mobile with the Pearl Flip 8220, which seemed to be overshadowed by their other imminent release. This was obviously the Storm, the joint venture with Vodafone and Verizon for a full touch screen handset – minus the customary keyboard that everyone associates with RIM devices. They really didn’t do anything by halves on that phone, did they?

2008 was supposed to herald in the next gen of wireless connectivity, when we really only heard some murmurings from a few companies. HTC did unveil the very first ever WiMAX mobile phone towards the end of the year, but only in Russia. Whilst others made a little noise over LTE, but not loud enough in our opinion – here’s hoping 2009 brings better news.

Facebook according to all reports had the largest jump in usage on social networking sites and on mobiles. Not only that, but for all intents and purposes it had its own mobile design for it on 3, by 3. The INQ 1 has only been with us for a while, but to all accounts it’s taken the network by storm and looks to be a success. More handsets in the INQ linage are due in 2009, with the rumour of a QWERTY keyboard/Smartphone version being on the horizon.

Application stores had a great success in 2008, all building on from the growth of the iTunes Apple store for the iPhone and iTouch devices. Google announced their own this year for their own OS based handsets, which we’re promised to see more of too. Their Android Market store has yet to gain the momentum of Apple’s, but there’s always hope for the future. BlackBerry also announced their own take on this, as did Palm with the Software Store. 2009 could be the year of the Widget, who knows?

The OS wars heated up, with Google’s Android being shown off at Mobile World Congress on a few Vanilla handsets and then later on arriving on the HTC/T-Mobile G1. Windows Mobile was launched on April Fool’s Day at the Comedy Store in London , and we’re still all waiting for the punch line. This has been plagued with foibles and troubles since turning up, so much so that their own product manager uses cooked ROMs from the xda-developers site to correct all its faults.

Then there was the Nokia £209million acquisition of Symbian, with the promise to turn that platform into an open source OS. Clearly a gut reaction to Google’s Android, although a risky one at that. Hopefully this will open up the mobile phone market to great potential in much richer features, greater competition amongst them all to improve the platforms that we have around today, whilst keeping the costs low for phones.

Music content on mobiles came in to play in 2008. The PlayNow content for Sony Ericsson had a huge influx of tracks earlier on in the year, which must have boosted the Walkman mobile sales in some shape or form. Nokia stepped on to the dance floor with Sony BMG offering up their catalogue, for the Nokia Music Store. New handsets also came out from them with the offer of free unlimited music for a year, on their ‘Comes With Music’ brand. This must have upset the Apple cart with their iTunes.

The netbooks all had a good year too. DELL, MSI, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung and HP all jumped on the Asus bandwagon during 2008. When they became of interest to us is when they started to have imbedded 3G functionality and the likes of Orange bundling in imbedded SIM cards and offering up contracts for the devices – making them a truly mobile computing device.

Camera phones reached the lofty heights of 8 megapixels this year, or 8.1 if you really want to be pedantic and stand out, Sony Ericsson. Samsung and LG were also at the party, in both regular models and touch screen varieties. Notably absent from the bash were Nokia, who seemed happy with their 5MP offerings. Although a possible leaked roadmap shows off they are still planning an 8MP handset.

In closing, we’re just happy that CERN didn’t turn the world into the opening moments of the film 2001 with their Large Hadron Collider. Well done CERN! No one really wants to go back to being cavemen anyway, protruding foreheads were so last year.

Let’s look forward now to 2009, with more Android handsets, larger capacity on phones, 4G mobiles and flying cars too.

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