Looking towards Mobile World Congress ’09

In nearly a month from now, Mobile World Congress will be over, done and dusted, put to bed, an ex-event, acabado – finished.

What are we expecting to see, what are we likely to experience, what will astound us and what will we all be talking about five weeks from now?

From what we’ve already seen aired at CES and the meeting requests with various companies – the following is what we believe will be the main themes from the event. Along with the topics that could be addressed, and the avenues of discussion that we suspect will be throughout the event.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the very large grey beast that is the OS. We doubt the whole event will be taken up by talk of platforms, but they will have a significant presence at this year’s MWC.

With the inclusion of Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer as a keynote speaker, the attention will turn to the next generation of Windows Mobile on phones. At least we’re assuming he’ll be there to announce a product, as we doubt he’s just going along to increase his air miles.

Rumours have been around for a while now as to what Windows Mobile 6.5 will most likely contain, from the likes of multi-touch to the known IE version 6 being included. All that anyone can really wish for is that the new OS will fix the issues that plagued 6.1. Saving us all the bother of downloading cooked ROMs from the xda-developers website to resolve them.

Motorola has already spoken publically about their new handsets running this OS, due in the second half of this year which realistically means Q4. We’re wishing good things for that company too, as they need all the luck they can get right now.

We’re assuming, as most will be, 6.5 will be more of a service pack than a long term OS that will be with us for many years to come. As we’re hoping the attention will be on Windows Mobile 7 at MWC. If we’re all led to believe the hype, this will include the likes of Zune-esque features and an integrated live mesh mobile version.

With the world’s economy being what it is right now, the cost of Windows Mobile will be undoubtedly drawn in to the argument this year. As the alternatives around will be surely weighed up as a comparison, now they’re all here and phones around running them all. At the end of last year, a slide was shown at Orange Partner Camp just highlighting the cost associated with WM as compared to the others. To quote a tweet from Rafe Bladford “in open platform session – cost of platform – Symbian, Limo, Android = $0; Windows Mobile $14 (est). not often you see that slide comparison”. Seeing this in black and white just hammers home what Windows Mobile will have to achieve, if it wants to survive in these times.

There’s bound to be a heated, intense discussion of this nature, which we’ll enjoy and throw some spanners in to the works in order to get some decent feedback. Arguments will be made from all corners, which will be interesting to say the least on what everyone will say. Some will be diplomatic on the costs, although we’re hoping to hear from the European against the North American perspective. As it’s no secret the Americans love their Windows Mobile handsets, so we’re unsure if they can give a balanced opinion.

It’s been a year since Android was first shown off on a few phones at last year’s MWC, and only a few months since the HTC manufactured G1 came out. Since then there’s been a lot of rumours as to who will have the next Google OS powered device, who will be the first to market, who will be known as leader with these handsets in the future and not tied solely to a network.

CES saw a few models of not all that well known companies doing the rounds, with a few whispers of who really will be next. With leaks of late coming from HTC, Asus and others all showing they supposedly have Android phones in the mix. Perhaps one of those will show up with a ready-to-market model. Let’s not forget that only two months ago 48 of the biggest players in the mobile world all signed up to the Open Handset Alliance, so we’re all expecting good things from everyone soon.

We have it on good authority, the next one will be around very soon so keep your eyes peeled and stay reading MIR. We are expecting everyone and their dog, to be making some noise over their Android handsets either publically, or behind closed doors. Our money goes with HTC and we’re taking good odds on that spread right now.

They’ll also be talk of the next Android version or the updates, in the form of ‘cup cake’ and possibly how this will be rolled out. If not that, then at the very least what it will possibly contain, if not how the development is going. Although most of what’s what is already known, there’s bound to be some news to be aired as they’ve been rather quiet of late.

Not to be out done, and in the realm of keeping up with the Joneses, there’s bound to be news from Nokia’s Symbian platform. This time last year the world was completely unaware of the grand scheming going on. As far as we all knew Symbian was just a good OS running phones, which included Nokia and that was that. A few months later, the landscape of the platform world would change forever, with Nokia announcing its intentions.

We doubt we’ll hear anything great from Symbian at the event, perhaps some minor announcements but nothing too much. We do however expect to hear rumblings from Nokia, perhaps leading with an update on the N97 and when it’s actually due. Perhaps more on location based services, along with how well Ovi mail is doing on the Series 40 handsets, plus how that service will be expanded.

Some other rumours we’re hearing are that nVidia possibly, maybe, could be, might have something to say at MWC this year. This is all to do with them entering the mobile graphics world on phones, with a possible association with HTC being in the pipeline or so we hear. Whether or not this holds any water is yet to be seen, but it sounds like an interesting concept and partnership.

There’s bound to be noise over LTE, WiMAX and HSPA+ with some networks, carriers and handsets being spoken about. Don’t hold your breath in seeing any of this on the horizon anytime soon, just watch and read with glee and think of flying cars.

We’re even hearing completely unsubstantiated mutterings that even DELL will be making an appearance. This is with a view to be showing up with a Smartphone in tow, of all things. This rumour is picking up even more and more worth in the last week, as more and more sites have begun reporting on it. Why not have a phone; DELL seems to have everything else. They’re turning out to be like a large Sainsbury’s, a one stop shop for everything you need.

Other keynotes that have been booked in already come from large companies such as Vodafone, to even MySpace’s CEO and its co-founder. With the latter obviously appearing to let everyone know MySpace is still around, despite the fact Facebook jas stolen all its limelight and people have completely forgotten about them.

Many CES delights will surely make an appearance, there’s no getting away from that. The LG watch phone and the palm pre will be shown off to the coos and the wonderment of the Europeans. It’ll be interesting to see if the Palm phone and webOS will have the same reception as it did in Las Vegas, also if they’ll be tougher questions to answer now the dust has settled on the announcement.

It’s bound to be a veritable smorgasbord of mobile delights and treats, we’ll undoubtedly bring you as much information as your eyes can handle.

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