The big 3GSM Congress is going on in Barcelona, Spain right now. As you'd expect from the world's largest cellular industry conference and trade show, a lot of mobile-related news has emerged from the show thus far. Beyond a number of flashy and interesting handsets (which I'll detail in a separate blog entry), here are the big stories of note:
Let's get one thing straight up front: Apple did not invent the mobile phone touchscreen, nor did every other handset manufacturer scramble to put touchscreen models into development after the iPhone's unveiling in January. I'm as excited for Apple's first mobile phone as the next guy, but I'm really tired of reading the "iPhone Knockoff" headlines attached to every mention of a touchscreen phone lately.
That being said, 2007 is shaping up to be the year of the touchscreen as much as the year of Mobile TV (as I "proclaimed" it back at CES). Handset makers are showing off a slew of touch-enabled phones this week in Spain, including Windows Mobile-powered smartphones, phones with touchscreens and slide-out QWERTY keypads, and even a unique touchscreen/dual-slider phone from Toshiba.
Perhaps the most interesting touchscreen phone at 3GSM, however, comes from little known Swedish manufacturer. The Neonode N2 is a compact, 70 grams light little candybar phone with a gesture-enabled touchscreen and the open platform Neno user interface. Neonode's website promises a PC-like environment in which developers can create new apps for the N2 and users can install them. That alone is enough to differentiate it from the iPhone.
HSDPA promises to bring 3, 3.5, and even 4G speeds to GSM phones. While the rest of the world is well ahead of the US in terms of broadband over cellular, speed hungry users in the states have looked to Sprint and Verizon's CDMA-based EV-DO networks for high speed cellular data.
Cingular's recent introduction of a GSM-based HSDPA network, and T-Mobile's promise to roll out their own 3G network ... sometime ... were good signs that the US mobile market is maturing enough to warrant some decent infrastructure. Now several manufacturers have announced plans to support US-spec HSDPA in their new handsets. That's an even better sign - could it be that America is catching up (ever so slowly) to the Europes and Asias of the world when it comes to cell phone coolness? Maybe so ...
3. Windows Mobile 6
Crossbow is here. Microsoft officially revealed their new Windows Mobile 6 Operating System Monday in Barcelona. As mentioned here previously, "Crossbow" features a refined look and feel and a number of under-the-hood improvements including support for HTML email and tighter security.
T-Mobile will soon be offering Windows Mobile 6 on their popular Dash smartphone, and Microsoft has also announced that current Dash owners will be able to upgrade their phones from WM 5 to 6.0. For more details, read Microsoft's press release here: microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/feb07/02-11WM6SoftwarePR.mspx