World Mobile Congress – Day Four Updates

With the mobile world’s time in Barcelona coming to and end, we have one last installment of our updates from the world’s most prominent mobile show to bring you this week. We’ve got more from those wacky folks at Docomo, who are doubtless the kings of the novelty phone, yet more early previews on some smart looking handsets, interesting industry insights from Google and AT&T, and a little controversy from an interview with Sony Ericsson…

  • Motorola have announced a revamped and greatly reduced Backflip. AT&T will be selling the revamped version of the popular phone at a cost that comes in at only $100 on a two-year contract (though you’ll be paying $200 up front, and will have to wait for your $100 rebate). The unusual QWERTY phone folds open like a hardback book, and will come with an older version of Android, though AT&T were at pains to clarify that the phone can be upgraded to Android 2.1. No more specific release date can be given than inside the coming four months, but you can register an interest here.
  • Yesterday we told you all about Docomo’s ‘eye controlled headphones’. Today we’re bringing you the best of the rest of their booth, which is crammed full of totally bizarre technology, making it one of the most intriguing on offer in Barcelona this year. This year’s other features include a handset made from wood (the electronics, of course, are hidden away somewhere a little deeper), another look at that chocolate phone and a phone that can be split entirely in two different devices (you’ll need both to use all the features, of course, but an interesting concept). The Japanese are often at the forefront of mobile development, in part because of the demand in Japanese society for quirky and different features on products, something that doesn’t come through so strongly in the west. You can drop in the bizarre world that is Docomo here.
  • Sony Ericsson has announced they turned down the chance to produce the Google Nexus One handset. They might be looking back with a certain amount of regret now, with Taiwanese company HTC reaping the rewards instead, and accompanying the Google handset with their own impressive models (see our day one summary), too. An interview with Sony Ericsson revealed that the CEO preferred to focus on promoting their own products rather than producing someone else’s, the primary reason for turning down the opportunity. While the desire to promote their own products is understandable, we’re unconvinced by Ericsson’s decision, considering their limited international appeal and low market share at present. Still, we could be proven spectacularly wrong…
  • Sony Ericsson also gave us a first look at the Vivaz, and the Vivaz Pro. The company actually announced these two handsets almost a full month ago, but this was a first chance to play around with the delicately curved handset. The pro in particular is a multimedia heavy handset with some impressive facilities, including an 8MP camera (the Vivaz even resembles a camera from some angles), as well as flash functionality that allows the more ambitious user to develop their own menus on top of the standardized off the shelf versions. It’s all nice and simple, easy to use and intuitive, and will fit in nicely alongside the more impressive smart phones, though we don’t expect it to be a world-beater.
  • Chinese handset producer Huawei has launched a series of Android phones. The Chinese manufacturer certainly wouldn’t be the one you typically try to pick out from a crowd, but it is becoming an increasingly major player back home, and looks like stepping up onto the international stage before too long. Its latest offerings include the tiny ‘Pulse’ model, already snapped up by T-Mobile, as well as the sporty and eccentric looking high end models the U8800 and the U8300, and the slightly uninspiring but affordable U8100. You might be seeing them on European store shelves more quickly than you expect.
  • AT&T has made the growing Indian market a major target. The US based service provider has made it clear through the Congress that it intends to attach itself to the Asian market as far as possible, eyeing the ever-growing Indian market in particular. Having recently lost out to Vodafone in securing a major contract in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, AT&T sees India as having vast growth potential, based on the increasingly rich middle classes and relatively low current ownership of mobile phones. Current India has only 23% mobile ownership, but is also the world’s fastest growing market. Vodafone, AT&T’s major rival on the international stage, already established a presence in India over the course of the past year, with plenty of other international companies likely to follow suit.
  • Google expect the number of mobile phone searches to grow dramatically over the course of the next few years. So much so, in fact, that their head of operations has said the company anticipates mobile searches overtaking standard web searches in quantity. No wonder Google are so keen to force their way in to the mobile market, then.

That’s all from Barcelona this year, but we’re certainly excited by the state of the mobile industry after the past week. There’s so much to come from many of the major companies, and 2010 is starting to look like a year to look forward to, especially with the launch of the iPad, the huge array of smartphones hitting the market, and the assortment of exciting technologies in the development stage. Of course, we’ll be back for the World Mobile Congress again next year, but until then, keep checking back for regular updates on Xingtone.

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