Mobile World Congress is over, and in a world that's increasingly mobile-focused the pace of innovation was more frenetic than ever. Here's 10 things to know from this year's show.
1. HTC is kind of scarily insatiable when it comes to releasing devices
The company has announced five new smartphones, including the Facebook-buttoned ChaCha and Salsa models, plus three revamped "S" units: the Desire S, Wildfire S and Incredible S. Oh, and they have a tablet coming too, the cloud-gaming-centric Flyer (which is bringing back the stylus to boot).
2. LG is backing 3D for mobiles, but do you really want to look so entranced in public?
It's not exactly clear yet whether consumers really need or want 3D on their mobile devices, but LG is pioneering the concept with the world's first 3D smartphone and tablet, the Optimus 3D and the Optimus Pad (aka. G-Slate
, seen here) respectively.
3. It's always better when we're together
Last week's announcement that Nokia and Microsoft were joining forces (with Nokia abandoning its Symbian OS on smartphones and replacing it with Windows Phone) saw Nokia workers walk out in protest, amidst accusations Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (who only recently left Microsoft) was a "Trojan Horse". Elop defended the partnership at MWC, saying that the alliance puts both companies in a significantly stronger tertiary position behind mobile OS breakaways Android and iOS. Nokia had also been in talks with Google and RIM before settling on the deal with Microsoft.
4. Samsung continues its evolution as a heavyweight mobile player
As well as announcing its new, larger 10.1 Galaxy Tab tablet
(seen here), Samsung unveiled the "world's thinnest smartphone", the Galaxy S II (running Android 2.3), plus the new Samsung Wave 578, which employs Samsung's own bada OS and supports Near Field Communication (NFC).
5. As devices get more powerful, expect more productivity and less passivity out of your portable
Perhaps the best example of this at MWC 2011 was Android's Movie Studio, discussed in Eric Schmidt's Google keynote, which will be available for tablets running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Offering full-featured video editing on the go, apps like this in the next generation of tablets should put to rest the notion that tablets are merely content consumption devices.
6. Sony's changing the game, literally
Leveraging 17 years of PlayStation-making experience, Sony's gaming-focused Xperia Play smartphone is set to rock the handheld market when it comes to Australia in Q2 this year. Technically the phone runs on Android 2.3, but as the first "PlayStation Certified" portable device, it will also have access to downloadable PlayStation content, with 50 games available at launch. In a touch-obsessed world, are tactile buttons making a comeback?
7. Better together, part two (the plot thickens?)
If Microsoft and Nokia's new alliance didn't highlight enough how quickly the game can change in the high-stakes smartphone arena, Google's Eric Schmidt essentially pointed out that partnerships were in a constant state of assessment with the following assorted MWC comments (politely leaving the door open for the Finnish company): "We would have loved if they had chosen Android. They chose the other guys... We had confidential negotiations with Nokia that were very extensive... I hope at some time in the future they will be willing to choose Android again."
8. Nvidia Tegra 3: because dual-core mobile CPUs are so 2010
Codenamed Kal-El (Superman's birth name, if you didn't know), Nvidia's new mobile processor is a quad-core beast offering up to five times the performance of its precursor, the dual-core Tegra 2. You can expect to see it shipping in tablets by August and in smartphones around Christmas time.
9. Huawei will continue to offer the affordable Android in 2011
After a strong 2010 in which the Chinese company firmly established its position as the premier handset maker operating in the budget smartphone space, Huawei has announced two new mobile devices set for release this year: the IDEOS X3 smartphone (pictured), another device claiming to be the "thinnest" on the market; and the (inevitable) Huawei tablet, the IDEOS X7 Slim.
10. Apple launches subscriptions, deriders scream "Unsubscribe"
Okay, okay, so this one's not strictly an MWC story, but it's so tied into the mobile content ecosystem that it deserves a dark horse mention. Apple this week announced its new subscription service for publications that feature on the App Store. Publishers will now be able to offer subscription billing for their media, which was previously unavailable, but Apple's red tape, which prevents publishers from ever offering cheaper prices outside the App Store, has internet critics in an uproar.