Cutting Room: Mobile World Congress expectation grows

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Michael Garwood looks ahead to the annual trade show in Barcelona, and says Sony can use the event to back up claims by many that it can make its mark in 2012

It’s that time again. As you read this, the 2012 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona will be in full swing, and once again distributors and dealers will all be hoping for a little injection into an otherwise increasingly tiresome handset market.

At the time of writing, nothing has been confirmed. Instead, like many we have had to feed off scraps of information to gain just a glimpse of what to expect – in the hope that this year will surpass 2011’s event.

Aside from the Samsung Galaxy S II, which has so far sold more than 10 million units worldwide, last year was arguably a damp squib for the manufacturers.

Sony Ericsson’s attempt to revolutionise online gaming was the main talking point before and during the event, but little was said about it afterwards. LG and HTC raised a few eyebrows with social networking and 3D-focused handsets – but they ultimately failed to hit the heights they perhaps hoped for. Nokia and BlackBerry could have stayed at home.

But there is undeniable buzz surrounding this year’s event. Record crowds are expected to visit the 1,400 companies and 12,000 app developers all showcasing their brands, and the rumour mills are already turning in anticipation.
And the early indications suggest there will be more talking points this time around.

Manufacturers Sony (minus Ericsson), HTC, LG and Huawei have all called pre-Congress press conferences on the Sunday (February 26) in what is now a traditional strategy to make the headlines before the event officially begins.

LG will reportedly release its second 3D device, the Optimus 3D Max, a slimmer and more advance version of last year’s Optimus 3D, which also launched at World Congress.

HTC, which has a history of launching handsets at the event, including five last year plus a tablet, has kept its cards much closer to its chest this year. But there have been a few leaks, suggesting a ‘super smartphone’ device named the HTC Endeavour will be unveiled.

Motorola, along with new parent Google, is expected to announce the Attrix 3, while RIM could launch the BlackBerry 9320, laying its low-end 8520 to rest.

Nokia, which last year called a press conference on the Sunday only to announce nothing, is rumoured to be unveiling two Windows phones including the Lumia 910 and one other Symbian handset. Talk of a tablet device still persists as well.

Most eyes will again be on Sony, which made the only notable handset launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January with the Xperia S, the first from the electronics giant following its purchase of Ericsson’s share of Sony Ericsson for £871 million.

A number of new devices are expected to be unveiled, but aside from code names such as Nypon and Kumquat little of any substance has surfaced.

Many remain optimistic Sony can again make its mark in 2012 – Mobile World Congress is its chance to reinforce that.

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