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Mobile World Congress 2010 preview

It seems just like yesterday that we unpacked our bags from Las Vegas and CES, but here we are again, gearing up to head off to Barcelona (I know, it’s a rough life we lead) for Mobile World Congress 2010. The show is put on by the GSM Association (GSMA) and brings together handset manufacturers, mobile operators, software companies, and many more wireless industry experts from around the world where they can showcase their new products and services as well as discuss and learn about the latest mobile trends and technologies.

At last year’s event, we saw new devices from most of the major players, including Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, and LG, and even some fresh faces, such as Acer. Touch-screen phones were (and still are) all the rage; being green meant more than shipping a phone in a recyclable box; and phones took another step toward being that all-in-one gadget in your life. We also saw the debut of Windows Mobile 6.5 and the surging trend of app stores and 4G and LTE. The show never fails to produce exciting product launches and often sets the tone for the rest of the year. So what’s in store for MWC and 2010? Plenty.

More Android

It’s funny to think that just a year ago, we really only had one Google Android device to choose from (the T-Mobile G1) and we thought we’d finally see an explosion of Android devices at GSMA 2009. Clearly we were wrong since the only major announcement to come out of there was the HTC Magic, but this time we really mean it: Android will have a huge presence at MWC.

After all, in a year, we’ve seen Motorola and Samsung release multiple Android phones, HTC expand its portfolio, and Sony Ericsson, LG, Dell, and others preview their upcoming devices. While we’re at the show, we’re hoping to get a closer glimpse at the Dell Mini 3, the LG GT540, and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. A company called Inbrics will be showing off an Android-based mobile Internet device (MID) called the M1, which we also plan to check out.

In addition, Sony Ericsson and Samsung will be holding simultaneous press conferences on Sunday evening. Whether they’ll unveil Android smartphones or something else remains to be seen, however. Oh, and did we mention that Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt will be giving the keynote at MWC 2010?

Windows Mobile 7 and Symbian 3

Now, though we all love shiny new gadgets, the biggest news to come out of MWC 2010 might not even be on the hardware front, but rather software. Both Microsoft and Symbian are set to show off major updates to their respective mobile operating systems and many are anxious to see if the changes are enough to make them relevant players in the smartphone space again.

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Preview of the world’s biggest mobile phone show


Microsoft will hold a press conference on February 15 at 3 p.m., CET (6 a.m. PT/9 a.m. ET), hosted by none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer; the company will finally show off all the work its done on Windows Mobile 7. There have already been leaked reports about what Windows Mobile 7 will and will not offer, including a user interface similar to the Zune HD, full Zune and Xbox integration, support for Silverlight 3.0, a “try before you buy” feature in Windows Mobile Marketplace, and push notifications but no multitasking.

There’s also a big debate about whether the company will unveil a Zune phone. Well, that depends on how you define the Zune phone. If you’re talking OEM hardware, we’d say the chances are pretty much slim to none. However, if you define it in terms of Zune-like experience on a phone, then with the that’s expected with Windows Mobile 7, we guess technically yes, there could be a Zune phone. You’ll all get a chance to see what’s unveiled at the press conference since Microsoft will be hosting a live Webcast of the event. We’ll provide you with a link later on, and we’ll also be there in person to provide more commentary and take additional video and photos.

Meanwhile, we’ll be sitting down one-on-one with Symbian to get a look at Symbian 3. Though the major overhaul will come in Symbian 4, version 3 offers some significant and much-needed improvements, such as a simplified interface, multiple home screens, support for capacitive and multitouch screens, HDMI and HD video, and next-gen graphics. Again, it’s doubtful that we’ll see any new hardware to go with the new OS. Nokia will also be holding a press conference on Monday at 11:30 a.m., CET (2:30 a.m. PT/5:30 a.m. ET) but it looks like the company will be focusing more on services and its Nokia Siemens business.

Finally, we’re hoping to find out what the heck Samsung Bada is all about.

Show time

These are just a few of things we expect to see at MWC 2010, but we’re sure there will be plenty more to come. The show runs February 15-18 and this year, Kent German, Maggie Reardon from CNET News, Ariel Nunez from CNET TV, and I will all be making the trek to Barcelona to report back all the latest news and announcements, complete with photos and video. In addition, we’ll be joined by our colleagues from CNET UK, CNET France, CNET Germany, CNET Australia, and CNET Asia, so it’ll be great to get their take on the show as well.

Now, it’s time to turn the tables and ask you: what do you want or hope to see come out of Mobile World Congress 2010?

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