Announcements from Microsoft, Google, Nokia at 2010 MWC

Excitement builds as this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona draws close, with a big announcement from Microsoft regarding Windows 7 Mobile and a keynote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

While the world economy has partially recovered since last year's subdued Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona, for many participating vendors, the future is still clouded with uncertainty. Companies such as Nokia, which expects to sell 500 million mobile phones in 2010, are looking forward to continued expansion (500 million mobiles is roughly 40 percent of the global market) and gaining further traction, like Google and its open-source Android mobile operating system. In addition, the conference kicks off with a Windows announcement regarding its mobile operating system, Windows Mobile, as well as releases by Intel in cooperation with Nokia. The show runs Feb. 15-18.

Dozens of new handsets and accessories are expected to debut at the show, as always; however, software may steal the spotlight from hardware this year, as Android, Windows Mobile and updates from Opera and Symbian draw attention. All the attention on handset releases is likely to focus on touch-screen smartphones, as was the case last year. New releases from Samsung, LG and HTC are expected. Adding to the excitement this year are keynotes from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (who at last year's keynote argued for openness and interoperability in the mobile community) and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who is likely to argue the same.

Opera Software ASA, designers of the cross-platform mobile browser Opera, announced plans for a sneak preview of Opera Mini for iPhone in a press and partner preview during the convention. The company noted while Mini for iPhone is not publicly available, Opera will unveil a host of other Opera-powered devices at its exhibit, including Opera Mobile 10 beta 3 on Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile handsets and Opera Mobile 10 beta running on Google Android handsets.

Opera also announced a series of speaking engagements during the convention, including a panel discussion on "Mobile Web developments, W3C standards, using Web APIs and the live creation of widgets" and a presentation on "Creating a connected cloud for the perfect mobile storm." The company will also be presenting Opera Mini 5 beta, running on a variety of handsets and platforms and Opera's cross-platform Widgets Manager beta, running on Windows Mobile and S60 handsets.

In January it was reported that Garmin-Asus is preparing to launch an Android-based handset, along with a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 smartphone called the M10. Motorola is also rumored to be launching the Android-powered Moto Zeppelin. Last but not least, there's been chatter about a possible Zune phone from Microsoft, which would likely come packaged with the expected Windows Mobile 7 announcement.