There's definitely a buzz around Mobile World Conference 2010 and the smart money says this year we are in for a real treat.
Most of the major vendors will be on hand to show off their latest wares, and not just new handsets, but major OS overhauls as well. Here's what we are dreaming of seeing in Barcelona.
An army of Androids, especially HTCs
Analysts are predicting Android to overtake the iPhone by 2012 and to achieve this goal 2010 is the year that Android charges forward. We'll be scouting the showroom floor at MWC on the hunt for Android models from LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, but we believe the most exciting Android announcements will be from HTC. Recent information leaks online suggest there should be at least two on show in February, the Bravo and Supersonic with the later sporting a massive 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen.
Windows Mobile 7, now with more Zune
Windows Mobile has had a bad rap for a number of years, known more for its sluggish performance than any of its productivity tools and services. But if our crystal ball is on the money, this is the year Microsoft turns WinMo on its head. For years Microsoft has been promising a complete, ground-up overhaul of its mobile platform and this is the year it will come to fruition.
Windows Mobile 7 will slot into Microsoft's three-screen personal computing ecosystem, meaning we should see phone features which cooperate with your PC and home entertainment systems with an emphasis on media and gaming. So as to not confuse its customers, we've heard that Microsoft will deliver two streams of WinMo 7, focusing each on business and consumer users. This consumer-focused version of the OS may take inspiration from the Microsoft Zune media player with a finger-friendly interface and access to the Zune music marketplace. If we're really lucky we might even get a glimpse at the much-rumoured Microsoft designed Pink Project handset.
The Bada UI
Samsung Bada and a sea of compatible handsets
If you haven't heard already, Samsung is releasing its very own operating system and an associated app store in the first half of 2010 and will be eager to show off its wares at Mobile World Congress. Unlike Android and Windows Mobile 7, Samsung's Bada is much more of a mystery to us. We have seen a handful of screenshots, but MWC will definitely deliver more detail about what we can expect from the new Samsung operating system.
Bada definitely has an uphill battle against the competition but Samsung does have the advantage of learning from the mistakes of Google, Nokia, Microsoft, etc, and this could give the Koreans the edge. This means that Bada has to be absolutely perfect when released, however, with a smooth, easy-to-use interface and loads of sexy new phones running it. It definitely can't be a work-in-progress with two years of firmware revisions before its ready to use, ala Google's Android. From experience Samsung won't ship Bada half-baked, and we definitely suggest keeping a close eye on its progress over the next few months.
Nokia's Maemo 6 and Symbian 4
The current world number one phone manufacturer will take the opportunity during MWC to outline its plans to stay the top dog. These plans are in-line with the trends we're seeing across the mobile industry — fewer phones and improved software. Nokia will unveil the latest developments in its two major handset platforms, Symbian 4 and the Linux-based Maemo 6. Maemo still has a long way to go before it reaches the mainstream, but given the popularity of Nokia phones in Australia, your next phone could run Symbian 4. Nokia is promising a redesigned user interface, a simpler to understand menu structure which will bring commonly used tasks to the top menus, and on-screen animations that will run at a silky smooth 60 frames per second.
Nokia is also minimising the number of different handsets it will release in 2010, aiming for approximately 10 in total, rather than 10 in each of its major product categories. Not only will this help to focus how it sells the phones to customers, it should also act as an incentive to developers who are planning new apps for Nokia's Ovi Store and streamlining the compatibility of new software across the range of Symbian devices.
Crazy Japanese phones
Will there be crazy Japanese phones at MWC? Definitely. Japanese phones are like the show bag you get at the end of the Royal Easter Show; a little treat we get after all the real work is done. Your guess is as good as ours as to what we can expect, but every year we see new phones to be released exclusively in Japanese that either make our mouths water or leave us scratching our heads and wondering who would possibly want one. Either way we can't wait to see what's on show.