While the big news at the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona comes from Microsoft and BlackBerry, theres a lot of other news, too.
Whats perhaps most interesting is that unlike past meetings, 3GSM is increasingly relevant to the United States.
More U.S. companies are making announcements, and more of the products will reach these shores in the near future.
While CeBIT remains the main arena for wireless hardware announcements, 3GSM is starting to get the jump on other shows, including the two CTIA shows in the United States, the next of which is scheduled for Orlando at the end of March.
Whats perhaps more important, however, is that wireless technology is clearly a global business, and as a result, changes anywhere reverberate everywhere.
The move to low-cost devices and services in India, for example, will provide a basis for lower prices everywhere, in the developing world as well as the developed world.
Likewise, design preferences intended for Asian consumers are also showing up in the United States. Its a big world, and wireless companies are doing their best to fill it.
- Microsoft makes it official: While we had the news that Microsoft would release Windows Mobile 6 at the 3GSM show in early February, on Feb. 12 the company held the press conference. What Microsoft didnt tell us previously was that the first customers will include T-Mobile in the United States. Users of the Dash device will be able to upgrade to Windows Mobile 6. Orange, the European wireless carrier, will offer the OS on the HTC E650, and SoftBank Mobile will offer it on devices from Toshiba and HTC.
- Microsoft has also announced PlayReady, which is a multimedia content access technology aimed at mobile devices. The company said in its release that AT&T has expressed interest in the technology.
- A new BlackBerry for AT&T: AT&T and BlackBerry are both announcing the new BlackBerry 8800. This is the first BlackBerry with built-in GPS capabilities. AT&T will offer the new TeleNav Navigator Service. The new BlackBerry will also have push-to-talk capability, the ability to switch between a push to talk session and a cell phone session, and it will be able to show presence for other users. It also has all of the usual BlackBerry features. AT&T will sell it for $299.99 with a two-year contract. According to BlackBerry, the 8800 will include a media player, however there does not appear to be a camera. On the other hand, its a quad-band GSM device, so you can use it just about anywhere.
- Symbian and Nokia are teaming to deliver five new mobile devices. They include the Nokia 6110 Navigator, a mobile phone with integrated GPS; the N77, which is optimized for television; and three E-Series business devices, the E90 Communicator, the E65 slider, and the E61i e-mail and personal organizer.
- Nokia releases Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0: Nokia is also announcing its multi-platform Intellisync 8.0, which runs on most commonly available mobile platforms including Symbian, Palm and Windows Mobile. Itll even work with Java. Intellisync gives Nokia a competitor to BlackBerry and Good, but has the advantage that it runs on nearly anything. A Nokia spokesperson said that the new mobile suite, announced Feb. 12 at 3GSM, is part of a new mobility strategy.
- Nokia has also picked up Tele Atlas for its mapping and navigation platform on Windows Mobile and S60 devices. The product is called smart2go, which is available free, a nice change from other wireless mapping services.
- Motorola links with Symbian: Symbian also announced a deal with Motorola at 3GSM to offer the MOTORIZR Z8 with the Symbian OS. This is an HSDPA smart phone that the folks at Symbian say is “sexy.” It includes a 2 megapixel camera and a micro SD slot.
- Ericsson shows television: Ericsson is demonstrating the ability for its wireless devices to handle television and high-data rates with its wireless devices. The company said its getting speeds up to 144 megabits per second out of its newest wireless devices. The company also demonstrated live television and multimedia broadcast services on wireless devices at the 3GSM show. The demo was on a prototype device, but the real thing should see the light of day soon, provided carriers support it. Ericsson is also teaming with Turner Broadcasting to deliver material from CNN and the Cartoon Network (makers of the device that created havoc in Boston).
- LG Electronics has been selected as the winner of the low-cost phone contest run by the GSM Association with a new 3G phone that should sell for around $100. LG will make the handset available to all members of the association. It is expected to play a huge role in the developing world, but also to be important elsewhere as a low-cost way to get 3G services. LG competed against Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Analysts indicate that the easy availability of cheap phones will bring about a rapid expansion of 3G services.
- SiRF and Skyhook Wireless team for GPS: SiRF Technology Holdings and Skyhook Wireless have agreed to team to provide Skyhooks location services to SiRF for use with its GPS chips, and to provide a new, more accurate, locating system using both GPS and Wi-Fi. The addition of Wi-Fi lets mobile phones be more precisely located, especially in areas with poor GPS coverage, such as within buildings.
- CoreMedia announces fastest mobile TV test: CoreMedia announced its TV IOP Test Box, This is a device that tests hardware for the ability to work properly with mobile TV. CoreMedia also announced its entry into the not new Chinese mobile market and a secure mobile TV solution as well as a digital rights management solution.
- TestQuest extends CountDown: TestQuest has announced that its extending its CountDown product to support automated testing of multimedia services and handsets in the mobile market.
- Tegic Improves on T9: Tegic Communications, part of AOL, announced its XT9 Mobile Interface 2.0, XT9 2.0 is supposed to make text messaging less annoying than it is now.
- Funambol shows open-source push e-mail: Funambol is showing the first open-source push e-mail service for mobile devices. Its designed to run with J2ME and Linux mobile devices.
- Networks in Motion expands to Europe: U.S.-based Networks In Motion, a provider of navigation and location based services, is announcing its move into Europe.
- Sybase 365 provides RSS: Virgin Mobile and Sybase 365 agree to provide RSS services to Virgin customers in the United States. The messages are delivered as SMS messages to mobile devices.
There are actually a lot of other announcements at 3GSM, but I decided to shield you from the ones that announce things like advertising penetration and new carrier deals in central Europe.
Instead, think about Barcelona, that city of art and Catalonian culture, and imagine you were there, instead of here, freezing while you wait for the next slushfall.
Senior Writer Wayne Rash is a longtime technology writer and journalist based in Washington, D.C. Hes the author of four books related to technology. He can be reached at [email protected]
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