MWC 2009 preview

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Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson already announced a few new products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the start of January, including the C510, W715 and W508. At MWC, we expect to see the announcement of the C903 – a slider based around the C905 but with a 5-megapixel camera instead.

The phone is likely to include GPS and possibly Wi-Fi (a new feature for non-smartphones being incorporated in other models, including the W705 and W715). Other models likely to be announced will include the C901 (with 5-megapixel camera) and the W395, a no-frills sliding Walkman phone with 2-megapixel camera and motion sensor.

Having announced its intention to produce an Android based smartphone, we also hope to see a concept – but wouldn’t expect a working model just yet. Nor would we expect to see an Xperia X2, although a new smartphone would help Sony Ericsson in its bid to focus on higher-end models in 2009.

Rumours have circulated for some time that until Symbian Foundation devices are announced nearer the end of the year, Sony Ericsson may simply licence and release models using Nokia’s Series 60 user interface as a ‘stop-gap’, having allowed UIQ to lie dormant and eventually die.

Nokia smartphones

Nokia managed to allow its 2008/9 roadmap to get leaked onto the web, so we can be pretty sure there’s going to be some interesting kit announced – such as the E75 and the new Nokia Communicator, which will be similar to the N97 but placed in the Eseries category.

Another Internet Tablet using the Linux-based Maemo platform is rumoured, and this time it’s likely to include an embedded SIM to allow data communication even when you’re away from a Wi-Fi hotspot (and don’t fancy pairing up with your own mobile phone).

HTC and Android

HTC has also had its 2008/9 roadmap leaked but with low-res pictures and loads of variations of the same theme, we don’t expect there to be quite that many individual products announced in one go. Indeed, some may be variants for different territories, or even individual networks.

What we would expect to see is the next Android-based product, which is likely to be offered to multiple networks keen to jump on the Google-phone bandwagon (but not with the underwhelming G1).

The G2 isn’t likely to include a keyboard, meaning the user will have to rely on using the screen instead. We hope application developers have been taking this into account.

Microsoft OS

Microsoft won the battle of the keynote speeches earlier this month, offering the beta release of Windows 7 to the general public, at the same time as Apple was announcing minor updates to its applications and its intention to start dropping DRM from iTunes – long after many others have already done so. But what about mobile users?

Windows Mobile has always had its fair share of critics, and that has even extended to people within Microsoft, who recently admitted it hasn’t stood the test of time (although some might argue it was bad from day one).

The release we’re all waiting for is Windows Mobile 7, which has been designed almost from scratch to take on the latest generation of fingertip controlled user interfaces.

Sadly, MWC is only likely to see an end-of-life update for version 6.

Windows Mobile 6.5 is unlikely to be significantly different to the current 6.1 operating system, but will have some modified applications and a new front-end, much like the devices offered by the likes of HTC and Sony Ericsson to allow you to keep the stylus stored in the phone for a bit longer than normal.

Rest assured, however, at some point the current OS will force you to look for the pointy stick. Not only is Windows Mobile 7 not coming to MWC, but it may not even arrive by the end of the year.

What you should also see is a new range of applications to share your files and data, from your PC to smartphone and even with other platforms – rather like Apple’s Mobile Me service. The question now is when devices will start to ship with V6.5 on them, and will any devices be upgradeable.

Motorola’s return

We’re pretty sure Motorola is going to try and get back into the game with some announcements, but so far we’ve not been able to get any reliable information or rumours – beyond the assumption it is going to announce an Android based smartphone (hardly a big surprise considering its one of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance).

The struggling mobile division clearly cannot rely on the cool, but limited, AURA for its future or even the A3100 announced at the CES (a sexy Windows Mobile phone that will probably do rather well in the US, but barely register on the radar over here).

What Motorola needs is another iconic phone like the V3, StarTAC or even the MicroTAC, for those who can remember the early days of cellular.

Unlike the AURA, this icon must actually sell in large numbers. If it does that, it must then avoid the mistake of assuming it will carry the whole brand for years in different colours and with minor upgrades. An icon is one thing, a proper portfolio is another.

We hope that the lack of information doesn’t mean Motorola is going to let us all down, but rather surprise us and steal the show as Palm did in Las Vegas with the Pre (which should also be announced in 3G form). If Motorola doesn’t do well at MWC, it may as well give up and sell up.

Samsung and LG

Samsung and LG have also kept things on the down-low, but one thing is pretty certain; if either announces a phone with some fancy new bits of technology, the other will probably match it.

Sometimes we wonder why LG and Samsung don’t simply merge. All we could find for LG was a high end music phone, the KM900 Opera, and some talk of other touchscreen devices – but no specifics.

Samsung always announces loads of new kit too (this year will be no exception), and it’s safe to assume the following things will feature: imaging, music and touchscreens. The big rumour is the first European 12-megapixel phone.

Hyundai Mobile

Hyundai Mobile, a new player in the UK and another Korean firm, is selling basic phones in Germany and Hungary already and should use MWC to unveil some more exciting kit.

We don’t know much about Hyundai in the phone arena, so it will be worth keeping an eye on it.

Mobile World Congress will also be the place where lots of new services are announced, which PR agencies will promise as the ‘most revolutionary’ or ‘most exciting’ announcements of the year. We’ll wait until the show kicks off before we even begin to start checking these out.

Jonathan Morris is editor of Mobile News’ sister-title What Mobile, the leading UK consumer magazine for the mobile phone industry.

The March issue of What Mobile is out February 23, 2008. To subscribe, click here

 

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