The 2012 Mobile World Conference must be one of the most important events this year to happen in the world of technology, perhaps even more than CES 2012. The event saw technology enthusiasts from around the world land in Barcelona in order to witness some of the hottest devices in the world of mobile technology. It is difficult to summarize everything that took place at the MWC 29012, but one could say that the event was all about super cameras, larger screens, NFC, 4G LTE and hybrid devices that blur the line between smartphones and tablets.
Emergence of Near Field Communication-enabled Devices
What certainly caught our attention was the importance that manufacturers are giving to Near Field Communication (NFC). Mobile payments are going to get a lot easier with NFC and consumers shall be able to make complete purchases within apps or with the help of their network operators. The MWC 2012 didn’t just reveal NFC-enabled cellphones but it also become clearer how best to make use of this nascent technology. While making purchases is NFC’s prime function, it might become easier to navigate one’s way, check in for Foursquare or even secure gadgets and vehicles with the help of NFC. In fact, the possibilities with NFC could be endless. Carriers are still in control of NFC but things shall surely change in 2012, with almost every new smartphone being NFC-enabled. Apart from this, we also saw mobile devices being a lot more secure in order to carry out mobile payments and make banking transactions.
Changing Technologies and Changing Roles of the Operators
Mobile operators, who have been bogged down by reduced coverage at home, enterprises and dense urban areas will now be able to function better thanks to smaller cells. Femtocells are the smallest ones being deployed for home use where as picocells, metrocells, and microcells are being used for enterprises and high-capacity public areas. At the conference, it was rather clear that small cells will replace macrocells in the coming years. Meanwhile, mobile operators will also benefit from Wi-Fi as data traffic is expected to reach 10.8 Exabytes per month by the time it is 2016. Operators are looking towards ways in which they can combine cellular data (3G, LTE) and Wi-Fi with the help of multi-mode small cells. Operators may also begin to offer differentiated services and collaborate with players and offer Rich Communication Services. This might include video calling and content sharing which might help them to compete with Over-the-top players.
Transportation, Home and Healthcare to be Connected to Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are also going to be increasingly connected to each other. When Ford unveiled B-max at MWC 2012, one should realize that mobile connectivity is going to be very different. Bill Ford described the car as a “rolling collection of sensors”, which would help in avoiding accidents. The idea is apparently is to connect vehicles and people so that there can be a synced communication network with different safety and networking possibilities. While connected houses are no longer something new, AT&T revealed an impressive digital in-home service delivery platform in which various sensors would help people to use devices and controls to virtually run the entire house. Mobile operators from various parts of the world announced mobile health initiatives that would connect people to hospitals, doctor’s offices, community services and other such entities. In 2012, transportation, home and health may begin to be connected through mobile devices, sensors and operators’ special initiatives.
Android Rules, Mozilla Enters with Boot to Gecko Project
While large screens ruled the roost, every major vendor seemed to be offering Android-powered handsets and tablets. Windows Phone 7 didn’t really create as much buzz as it should have but the year is still stretched ahead of us, and there might be a few sparks left here and there. While Android and iOS still rule the market, Mozilla may soon enter the mobile industry with its Boot to Gecko project. The OS is expected to make smartphones run Web apps. This could be interesting as many app developers have revealed lately that they wouldn’t mind developing web apps for their existing mobile apps. However, such a smartphone would always need to be connected to the Internet in order to function well.
Speed, Power, Augmented Reality and HTML 5
• With LTE 4G networks looming around the corner, almost all the devices seem to have 4G capabilities. These devices average speeds of 50 to 100Mbps. Perhaps it is finally time to watch those HD videos without any interruptions.
• Augmented Reality was yet another draw on most devices. This might perhaps please the video game fans the most.
• Another trend that was popular at the MWC 2012 was re fact that almost every phone had a dual or quad-core processor, which means that smartphones this year are going to be power-horses.
• HTML 5 is turning out to be the new common standard, and developers were seen rallying around it.
Devices that Caught Our Attention
Some of the devices that were launched at the MWC 2012 were 10.1 inch tablet Samsung Galaxy Note which comes with a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU. Samsung also unveiled 7″ and 10″ models of Galaxy Tab 2 and the Galaxy Beam, which comes with a build-in Pico projector. Nokia unveiled its entry-level Asha 202, 203, and 302 and a scaled down version of its Lumia 900, the Lumia 610. It features Xbox integration and Windows Phone Tango OS. Nokia 808 Pureview, like discussed earlier features a 41 MP camera. ZHTC unveiled its HTC ImageSense, an enhanced camera and imaging offering, part of the HTC One series. Asus unveiled its Padfone, which can be inserted into an Asus Padstation that doubles up as a tablet. Huawei unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first quad-core tablet, the MediaPad 10. Sony Ericsson’s Sony Xperia P and the Sony Xperia U come with NFC and dual-core CPUs. LG’s Optimus Vu is a ‘phablet’ too, doubling up as a cellphone and a tablet.
Summarizing MWC 2012
In conclusion, we could say that there was a lot of news at the MWC 2012, but nothing that mobile enthusiasts already didn’t know. Manufacturers seem to have prioritised consumers and enterprise solutions seem like an afterthought on most devices. This is an area that might need a little attention from manufacturers as enterprise solutions could mean quite a lot, especially when RIM seems to have left a sort of vacuum. Meanwhile, cutting edge technologies such as NFC, 4G LTE networks, Augmented Reality, larger screens, Quad-core processors, Mozilla’s new OS, smaller cells and operators’ initiatives to connect home, transportation and mobile devices seemed to headline grabbing trends.