Mucho Mobile: 20 Buzz-Builders At Mobile World Congress4:00 PM EST Wed. Feb. 16, 2011
Mobile World Congress, which takes place in Barcelona this week, has traditionally been a service provider -- and mobile infrastructure-focused event. But with interest in mobile devices -- and demand for more efficient mobile networks -- at an all time high, Mobile World Congress has become a showcase for some of the hottest mobile device products around, too. Here's a look at 20 of the more interesting Mobile World Congress debuts, from Juniper and Cisco to Samsung and up-and-comers like Voss Solutions.
For Juniper, it's been a big week, especially for longtime observers of the company's mobile infrastructure strategy. Juniper unveiled its long-awaited Project Falcon: a mobile packet core called MobileNext that's described by Juniper as "the industry's first open mobile core." MobileNext offers 2G/3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) evolved packet core functions using new Juniper software -- MobileNext Broadband Gateway and MobileNext Policy Manager -- and an appliance called MobileNext Control Gateway.
For Cisco, Mobile World Congress has been about service provider solutions. On Monday Cisco unveiled a new service provider framework, MOVE, for helping service providers manage increasingly higher volumes of mobile video and data traffic, organized in the categories of Mobile Videoscape, Service Provider Wi-Fi and Adaptive Intelligent Routing. Among the new product lines found in those areas is Cisco's new Aironet 1550 Series Outdoor Wireless access points (pictured), which use Cisco's CleanAir wireless interference management software.
Samsung has been marketing hard behind Galaxy Tab, its Android-based answer to Apple's mighty iPad, and the first version of the Galaxy Tab originally launched in November. At Mobile World Congress, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Tab 10.1, a bigger-brother version of the Tab, featuring a dual-core Samsung chip, a 10.1-inch display, 1 GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera, and optional 16 GB or 32 GB storage. The Tab runs Google Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, and will also come with a SIM card slot and other options and accessories.
Of note: Samsung also launched the Galaxy S WiFI 5.0, a mini-tablet with a 5-inch screen and 1 Ghz Hummingbird CPU, along with Android 2.2.
A big week for LG at this year's Mobile World Congress: the company is showing off its LG Optimus 3D, a 4.3-inch unit that LG's calling the world's first fully 3D smartphone, and LG Optimus Pad Android tablet, which uses Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Optimus 3D users will be able to watch 3D videos using special glasses, as well as capture 3D-compatible content using two 5-megapixel cameras. According to reports, LG will ship the Optimus 3D with four 3D stereoscopic games, too. Talk of the Optimus 3D as the standout device at Mobile World Congress has already started, and LG also debuted the Optimus 2X and Optimus Black phones, as well.
Mobile World Congress became an Android tablet party in no time, and HTC -- one of more visible supporters of Google Android -- went live with HTC Flyer, a seven-inch tablet scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 2011. It looks like a snazzy little number: a 1.5-Ghz single-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1024x600 touchscreen display. It'll run version 2.4 of Android, according to HTC, and a few extra software bells and whistles, including an OnLive gaming application.
Not to be denied in the tablet party, Motorola has its Android-showpiece Xoom tablet on view at Mobile World Congress. But Motorola Mobility also made a number of key software upgrades during the show, some of which are of particular interest to its enterprise and consumer customers. For starters, Motorola is leveraging its recent acquisition of 3LM to build corporate e-mail and top-shelf security into its Android devices. It's also launching MotoConnect, a software platform formed from the merger of Motorola's Media Link with ZumoCast. Further, there's an updated version of Motoblur, Motorola's much-touted mobile social networking platform, which now offers a host of new client applications like Connect Music, and also Aloqa, the mobile push platform, and also MotoDev, a developer network for Motorola solutions that use Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
An interesting one from notebook staple Acer: Acer's Iconia Smart mobile device, which combines tablet-like capabilities on a smartphone form factor. Debuted at Mobile World Congress this week, Iconia Smart offers a 4.8-inch widescreen display using 1024x480 resolution and a 21:9 aspect ration. It uses a 1-Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and version 2.3 (Gingerbread) of Google Android. It also features an 8-megapixel, rear-facing camera with LED flash, and a 2-megapixel front camera, and also supports 720p HD video recording.
ViewSonic's gotten into the tablet game, too, and coming on the heels of last year's ViewPad 10 is its ViewPad 10Pro: a virtualization-ready tablet based on Intel's Oak Trail. More details are forthcoming from ViewSonic, which according to reports, expects to ship the ViewPad 10Pro by the summer.
Mobile World Congress is a mobile service and service provider show at heart, so beyond the galaxy of tablets, smartphones and other gadgets, plenty of its big-ticket attendees are focused on service options and mobile infrastructure, too. Verizon, for example, is all over Mobile World Congress highlighting Voice over LTE (VoLTE), demonstrating IMS-based VoLTE calls during the show. Verizon lays claim to making the world's first VoLTE call over a commercial network earlier this month, and in Barcelona, it's demonstrating with Ericsson LTE and Samsung LTE 4G smartphones.
"We're working hard this year on this technology and expect to have commercial VoLTE services available in 2012," said Tony Melone, Verizon's CTO, in a statement.
Vidyo, one of the more compelling upstart companies in the video and telepresence space, is also a visible presence at Mobile World Congress, demonstrating HD video conferencing over LTE. Among the key demonstrations are live video conferencing and live 4G multi-tenant gaming between Barcelona and a moving, 4G LTE-enabled vehicle in the U.S., alongside Verizon Wireless and Alcatel-Lucent, and, along with Intel, an HD Vidyo conference using WiMAX and LTE and connecting Intel-based tablets running Windows 7 positioned all around the Mobile World Congress exhibition hall.
Wind River makes embedded and mobile software, and at Mobile World Congress, went live with its updated Wind River Platform for Android and Wind River Framework for Automated Software Testing (FAST) for Android -- both designed to help developers get Android content to market faster and more reliably. Wind River's Platform for Android is itself a commercial software platform based on Google's own Android SDK. It includes upgrade paths for future Android releases, and among new features, offers better error reporting functions -- including console logging and log filtering -- as well as predefined tagging schema, support for testing multiple devices over USB and TCP/IP, and test assets such as GPS and location management.
Alcatel-Lucent, as usual, is all over Mobile World Congress and involved in a number of different demonstrations with service provider partners like Verizon and China Mobile. But it's also using Barcelona to show off a significant expansion of its 9360 Small Cells portfolio: 3G metro cells which extend 3G wireless coverage and capacity to high-traffic public spaces, both indoors and outdoors. The 9363 and 9364 Metro Cells are designed to be both plug-and-play and self-organizing, meaning potentially hassle-free deployment for mobile service providers looking to up their coverage in public spaces.
Alcatel-Lucent also updated its 9362 Enterprise Cell -- whose second generation adds presence information and mobile connectivity for enterprise PBX systems among other functions -- and introduced the 9361 Home Cell X-Series, miniaturized small cells for home consumer usage.
Adobe, too, is a visible presence at Mobile World Congress, and used the event to celebrate a number of milestones for its Flash 10.1 and AIR for Mobile platforms. According to Adobe, more than 84 million smartphones and tablets supported AIR apps by the end of 2010, and that number is expected to hit 200 million by the end of this year. As for Flash, more than 20 million smartphones shipped had Flash Player 10.1 installed last year, and video streaming via Flash has grown 100 percent year-over-year.
At Mobile World Congress, Adobe also launched a digital publishing content viewer for bringing magazines and other digital content to Android devices via AIR. More than 100 publications use Adobe's Digital Publishing technology in its present form in the Apple App Store, Adobe said, and it will also support BlackBerry's tablet OS starting in the second quarter.
Voss Solutions specializes in unified communications and collaboration service delivery and management software that lets enterprises and service providers used centralized management to manage their UC assets. The Voss 7.1 platform offers real time and fully automated UC service delivery, and Voss partners with a number of different networking vendors at the software development level. Voss used Mobile World Congress to announce a major investment milestone: a $10 million round of Series C equity funding led by Intel Capital and existing investors Eden Ventures and XAnge.
Huawei is an ever-more-commanding player in the mobile device arena, and at Mobile World Congress, it padded its smartphone and mobile services portfolio with a number of new releases. Chief among them is the Huawei IDEOS X3, an Android smartphone and what Huawei is touting as "the thinnest device in the 3.2-inch screen range on the market," along with a 3.2 megapixel camera, Huawei Handset Over-the-Air and Online Upgrade solutions for Android, and version 2.3 (Gingerbread) of the Android platform. Other Huawei MWC releases included the IDEOS S7 Slim tablet, based on Android 2.2, and HiLink, a plug-and-link data card that gives users high speed Internet access on the go.
OK, so it isn't a Mobile World Congress debut -- Research In Motion's BlackBerry Playbook was announced several months ago. But at Mobile World Congress, RIM did confirm that two additional versions of the PlayBook tablet, one for LTE and one for HSPA+, will be available, bringing the total number of PlayBook tablets offered to four. (Wi-Fi, WiMax, LTE, HSPA+ if you're counting.) RIM didn't confirm exact availability, save for "the second half of 2011."
Genband, which specializes in IP infrastructure and applications, used Mobile World Congress to launch Genband Mobile Office, an all-mobile corporate phone system designed for small business users. Mobile Office leverages Genband's Genius ATCA Platform, which combines applications, call control, session border control, and traffic and policy management, and at Mobile World Congress, Genband is demonstrating various applications using its A2 Converged Application Server. Also launched is Genband's Mobile Voice VIP, a SIP trunking offering for connecting enterprise customers into a mobile service provider's network core, eliminating the need, according to Genband, to lease PRI trunks from fixed line service providers.
Chinese telco equipment supplier ZTE made a big splash at Mobile World Congress, announcing a new strategy to focus on middle and high-end smartphone markets, as well as tablets and Internet TV boxes. Its buzzed-about MWC launch was the Skate, a 4.3-inch smartphone that weighs 4.2 ounces and has Android 2.3, an 800 Mhz processor, an Adreno 200 GPU, a 5-megapixel camera, support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. ZTE also confirmed plans for a forthcoming, as-yet-unnamed tablet that uses Android 3.0.
At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm debuted single, dual, and quad-core versions of its next-gen Snapdragon processors, based on its 28-nm-scale Krait architecture. Each Krait core, according to Qualcomm, can hit speeds of 2.5 Ghz per core, which would mean a 150 percent improvement in performance and 65 percent reduction in power consumption over Qualcomm's ARM-based Snapdragon chips. Does Qualcomm have another smartphone chipset monster on its hands?
Nokia has been in the news much of late, following CEO Stephen Elop's much-discussed "burning platform" memo and a planned reorganization of Nokia's executive ranks, along with a mobile phone strategy through which Nokia will ally with Elop's former employer, Microsoft. Part of that means effectively heave-ho-ing MeeGo, the high-end smartphone platform Nokia had developed with Intel, and according to reports MeeGo is on the minds of Mobile World Congress attendees as much as anything else. Elop did discuss the MeeGo platform in his MWC press conference, while Intel sponsored a demo of MeeGo with Cybercom Group, a software developer, on Lenovo's Ideapad and LePad tablet.