So I'm packing my bags to head to the Nevada desert tomorrow morning, ready to cover the newest products and trends in the Cellular world. Be sure to check PhoneDog starting Monday, January 8th, for reports from the pre-show press events this weekend and, of course, from the show floor. At the very least I'll be getting a hands-on look at Nokia's much anticipated N95 flagship "multimedia computer," which promises to be worth the trip all by itself.
If the slew of PR emails and interview requests I'm getting is any indication, manufacturers and service/content providers alike are betting that 2007 is the year that the Mobile Net really takes off. Mobile technologies have become powerful enough - and cellular data speeds fast enough - to bring satisfying Web and Email experiences to consumer-grade handsets.
I'll be keeping an eye on a few industry trends in particular:
- Mobile TV: Modeo will be demoing its new DVB-H enabled audio/video service at CES (reportedly on an HTC smartphone), and also announcing a closed Beta of their service launching in New York City. Basically this means that someone's trying to bring direct-to-cellular TV broadcasting Stateside, since it's been active overseas for awhile now. Verizon and Sprint already offer TV services as part of their EV-DO data packages, Verizon recently inked a deal to broadcast some of YouTube's content, and Cingular just began rollout of their own 3G Cingular TV service. It'll be interesting to see if DVB-H can find a foothold in the US marketplace.
- Location-Based Services: GPS receivers have become small and cheap enough to embed in everything from car dashboards to laptops. Now they're starting to show up in cell phones, too. Verizon and Sprint offer GPS location-based services including turn-by-turn driving directions. Several companies will be showing off new location-based services at CES, including social networking and local directory systems than can help you find friends, restaurants, and more when you're traveling ... GPS knows your location even if you don't know where you are.
- Mobile Web Portals: At least Yahoo! seems to think that your cell phone is the Internet's next great frontier. I'd be willing to bet that Google's got a person or two on the case, as well. It's not as simple as putting HTML browsers on mobile handsets: the battle for the Mobile Web will be about delivering useful information and entertainment simply, quickly, and affordably to the millions of cell phone users already out there.