Acer, Dell, Samsung, Opera, Verizon
Rumored specs of flagship products are already leaking
onto the Web before the show begins, like Acer's DX650 and X960 smartphones.
Some of the other big announcements relate to what won't be at the show, such
as Samsung's Android phone, which is based on Google's mobile operating system.
The Guardian cited a Samsung marketing executive as saying there will be
"no Android phone at the show."
Software announcements are also expected to play a large role in this year's show. Opera Software has already said it will debut Opera Turbo, a technology that increases mobile browsing speeds while reducing data downloads. Opera Software said the technology can cut data requirements by up to 80 percent.
John Jackson, vice president of research at mobile intelligence company CCS Insight, said there is likely to be great interest in LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the major 4G ultrahigh-speed mobile data technology. Verizon Communications, making its first appearance at the show, is scheduled to announce the LTE equipment vendors that the company has selected for its deployment, scheduled for the end of 2009.
"Mobile traffic is increasing at a dramatic rate, while the operators' ability to monetize it does not, or even declines over time," Jackson said. "To offset that, they want you to connect ad hoc to their higher-speed networks and pay for it." That means it's no longer just "the smartphone show", he said. "Toshiba, Acer, Dell, all the laptop guys-this is now strategic to all of them. ... Whether it's a Game Boy, a portable media player, whatever, it's increasingly likely over this year that it's going to have cellular connectivity embedded in it."
Dell's rumored smartphone may not debut at the show, but Jackson said it's a pretty safe bet the company is working on one. However, Jackson echoed Kay's sentiments that with so many companies debuting smartphones at the show (CSS predicts 20 Android models launching in 2009 alone) vendors will have to fight for attention. "Anyone launching an Android phone, or any kind of smartphone for that matter, unless it's a truly groundbreaking product, it's going to be tough to command attention among the ambient launch noise," Jackson said.
Despite the gloom graying the glitter of this year's show, Kay said it is still one of the best conferences around. "A good trade show has a lot of liquidity," he said. "It allows sells and buyers to meet once a year, view the goods, do actual business [and] take a view of the coming year."
And despite a tempering of conspicuous consumption, Kay predicted that there will still be plenty of jazzy technology on display. "Will there still be cool handsets? Yeah, probably," Kay said. "The world is still trying to catch up with Apple."