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THOUGHT: The 2007's 3GSM World Congress
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 19.02.07 - 12:36:29 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 13956x
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So it's done, this year's 3GSM World Congress closed its doors but the question is what will stay for the next 12 months? From my point of view - a lot. I'm attending the 3GSM World Congress since 2000 and the first time I attend to cover Windows Mobile related items were back in 2002.
Was the 3GSM World Congress in its early days (when it was just the "GSM World Congress") mainly about network infrastructure and more a congress then a fair, its focused changed over the years. Sure, it's still the main event of the GSM Association and it's still a congress but the parallel exhibition became more important during the past years with a way broader focus on mobile devices and services as well.

When I attend back in 2002 to cover the latest developments for the::unwired (when the::unwired was PPCW.Net) I hadn't too much to write about. A Windows Mobile device here, another prototype there, a handful Windows Mobile related service announcements but this was all. The music played on other booths and nobody had a real interest to talk with me about Windows Mobile, which was seen as a "geek platform" these early days.
This definitely changed during the past years and the first 3GSM World Congress with a stronger focus on Windows Mobile was last year (when the 3GSM World Congress happened the first time in Barcelona) but definitely - its breakthrough Windows Mobile got this year.

First of all we had Microsoft's official Windows Mobile 6 announcement and unlike before, this mobile device/phone centric operating system wasn't announced at one of Microsoft's own developer conferences but it was announced during the world's most important wireless industry event which created a momentum and therefore generated some real attention.
However, together with the operating system announcement, Microsoft also had the pleasure to announce some new partnerships (with Toshiba, LG, BT and others) as well as new exciting devices. And devices is a good catchword here: We have seen some new fantastic devices as well some long awaited one.

  • Let us start with the "primus inter pares" HTC: Most of us already knew that HTC planned to announce the HTC Athena (aka HTC X7500 now known as HTC Advantage) and it's indeed a great device concept. I'm still struggling with the use case for the device (for me as a writer it still cannot replace a Notebook while on the other hand it fails to be a "simple" smartphone) but no question - HTC defined a new class of Windows Mobile devices (which we had before with Windows CE based H/PC anyway) and the geek-factor of the Athena is definitely high.
  • Then we have seen the official announcement of the HTC Vox, which goes on sale soon as HTC S710/Orange SPV E650. A great Windows Mobile Standard smartphone combining a standard mobile phone with a messaging device in a clever way on the Vox isn't just a functional device but a well designed one as well. Therefore, I'm sure it will attract many users around the world and it might become the next big hit for HTC.
    Talking about big hits; finally Motorola brings its MOTO Q line of devices to Europe and Asia as well. It took them more than 12 months to do so and EMEA and Asia will get two MOTO Q versions - the MOTO Q q gsm and the UMTS version called MOTO Q q9. Sure, it might be a little bit too late for the q gsm since it has to compete with the already available Samsung SGH-i320 and HTC Excalibur (in Europe known as O2 Xda cosmo/T-Mobile MDA Mail aka T-Mobile Dash) but the q9 is coming right in time since the Samsung SGH-i600 (the European version of the Samsung BlackJack) isn't available yet but to be released later this spring.
    Nevertheless, Motorola still see its MOTO Q line as professional devices only by leaving W-LAN and using 1.3 megapixel cameras only. Nevertheless, I'm sure also in EMEA and Asia, the MOTO Q will/has the potential to attract many corporate customers to replace their current BlackBerry range of devices.
  • Then we had the exciting announcements of the Toshiba G500 Windows Mobile Standard and G900 Windows Mobile Professional smartphones which are both pretty unique. Is the G500 the first to be commercially available Windows Mobile slider phone, the G900 is the first Windows Mobile device supporting one of the many new supported screen resolutions. And while the biometric fingerprint reader is nothing new in the Windows Mobile space (Compaq had this solution years ago with its iPAQ) it makes a new use of this technology.
  • Talking about technology; Giga-Byte Communications again tries to find its place by incorporating new technologies and was Giga-Byte so far well known for the only analogue TV solutions, the Taiwanese ODM previewed its digital terrestrial TV solutions in Barcelona. While the G-Smart t600 might attract the con- and prosumer with its iPodish design, the G-Smart q60 is definitely made for road warriors, looking for connectivity and entertainment. Let's hope we will see both devices broadly released and not just in a few markets because the prototype I had the pleasure to play with really amazed me.
  • I was not so amazed by the first HP Windows Mobile Standard smartphone called HP iPAQ 500 Voice Messenger. It took forever for HP to finally come around the corner with a smartphone and then it's outdated. Only a QCIF+ display but well, HP focuses on a different customer segment and isn't addressing the consumer at all. Maybe it's really attracting the corporate market.
  • And last but not least, since we are talking about amazing stuff, i-mate. The Dubai based Windows Mobile specialist definitely signed in again by previewing its amazing range of Ultimate devices plus the new JAQ4. Feature-wise, the i-mate Ultimate range is top of the class just the design is something which doesn't attracts me too much but first - design is always something you can discuss forever without getting to a final conclusion and second - designs can be changed, more important is the idea behind. And if you take i-mate's XStream idea, which unwires media, i-mate has way more in mind then just selling devices.

The device upgrade paths are still fragmented. While T-Mobile U.S. announced to provide free Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for T-Mobile Dash users, T-Mobile Europe said that it has no plans to upgrade the recently announced T-Mobile Mail. Also i-mate plans to provide a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for its JAQ3 Pocket PC Phone Edition while HTC is still in discussion if it will release anything for its customers. And that's a real shame since all of today's Windows Mobile 5 can easily run Windows Mobile 6 and some devices are still great and doesn't need hardware upgrade. So why not providing just a simple OS upgrade and making the customer happy? This is definitely something, Microsoft has to figure out with its ODMs and OEMs and let us keep the fingers crossed, that we will hear something exciting next year.

So yes - for fans of the Windows Mobile platform, this year's 3GSM World Congress was the most exciting one - now let us await the availability of all the latest and greatest devices. I had much fun to cover all the developments for you and I hope you had fun as well to follow-up my articles. However the Windows Mobile world develops - one is for sure: next year I will attend again.

Cheers ~ Arne

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