The 2012 Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona, Spain. Just about every major company, including Google, Motorola, Samsung, HTC and Sony, are showing off their smartphones and tablets, hoping to impress the consumers they plan to attract later this year. Notably missing from the show is Apple, which has historically balked at joining in the fun, deciding instead to hold its own event.
Still, even without Apple in attendance, Mobile World Congress is shaping up to be a landmark event where countless vendors show off products that will tell us what the future will look like in the mobile space. From bigger displays to Android everywhere, it appears a host of trends are developing at Mobile World Congress that could impact your decision-making over the next year.
Here’s a look at what trends in smartphones, tablets and business mobility are emerging at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
1. Bigger is better
There’s no question larger displays are more desirable this year than smaller screens. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note with a 5-inch display now looks out of date. However, the company unveiled a 10.1-inch Galaxy Note at Mobile World Congress this year, which is giving customers a reason to re-examine the device. Add that to LG’s giant Optimus 4X HD and the Sony Xperia P’s 4-inch screen, and it quickly becomes clear that smaller displays are so 2011.
2. Android galore
Where can’t you find Android devices on the floor at Mobile World Congress? Every major vendor, including LG, Samsung, Sony and Motorola, is offering Android-based handsets and tablets, while other operating systems, like Windows Phone 7, are left to hope for more love next year.
3. Microsoft needs Nokiadesperately
Speaking of Windows Phone 7, it appears Microsoft will rely quite heavily on Nokia this year. Although HTC has said it won’t turn its back on Windows Phone 7 and other companies are starting to dabble in the operating system, Nokia’s announcement of the Lumia 610 and Lumia 900 seems to prove that the handset maker is still the world’s top Windows Phone 7 vendor.
4. Dual- and quad-core processors are everything
The days of single-core processors are officially behind us. At nearly every stop at Mobile World Congress, attendees can find devices boasting Nvidia’s Tegra 2 dual-core processor or the company’s Tegra 3 quad-core chip. In fact, LG’s Optimus 4X HD comes with Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor. Expect Apple to include a quad-core chip of its own in its upcoming iPad 3.
Converged Devices Come on the Scene
5. Fresh new designs aren’t needed
It’s hard to find many new designs at Mobile World Congress. For the most part, all the vendors believe that consumers still want the prominent touch screen with few physical buttons in both their smartphones and tablets. Last year, Sony tried to offer something fresh with its S1 and S2 tablets, but based on the devices shown off at Mobile World Congress, those products failed on design.
6. The “converged” device matters
Attendees at this year’s Mobile World Congress are getting drawn in by so-called “convergence” devices. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, for example, bridges the gap between smartphone and tablet, and could very well be a suitable solution for many enterprise users. Even more exciting, the Asus Padfone does what others don’t: converts the smartphone to a tablet and then, if consumers so choose, a notebook, with additional accessories. Not bad, eh?
7. There’s no changing carriers
Those hoping to hear a different tune from wireless carriers at Mobile World Congress were disappointed this year. Executives from a host of companies, including AT&T, China Mobile and Vodafone, cautioned the industry on regulatory issues and competitive problems that could hurt all parties. When will these companies wake up and realize that improving customer relations is what they should be focusing on?
8. Companies think there’s room for other operating systems
Although Android and iOS are dominating the marketplace, Mozilla is among the few firms that believe they can change that. In fact, Mozilla announced its own mobile operating system at Mobile World Congress with the ultimate goal of taking on Android. That follows Samsung’s Bada operating system, which has been around for a while but is playing backup to the more well-known operating systems, especially Android. Can these platforms really win where others have failed?
9. iPad 3 fear reigns supreme
Although Apple isn’t at Mobile World Congress, the iPad’s long shadow is being cast over Barcelona. Just about every tablet maker is trying to determine what Apple will do with the iPad 3 and best that. Even Google’s Android chief, Andy Rubin, admitted that his platform is behind iOS, and he hopes to change that in 2012. The iPad might not be at Mobile World Congress, but it’s on the minds of everyone in attendance.
10. The enterprise is an afterthought
Make no mistake: Consumers matter most at Mobile World Congress. The enterprise, while mentioned among some vendors, doesn’t appear to be their real focus. Companies like Apple, HTC, Samsung and Sony are trying to target consumers first. The enterprise is still an afterthoughtunfortunately.