Mobile World Congress 2011: Great expectations

We take a look at the confirmations and rumours around the world's largest mobile show, starting next week in Barcelona.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) sees more than 1,300 companies descend on Barcelona for four days to launch new products, discuss industry trends and sup on some well-earned Sangria along the way.

With a plethora of news set to hit when the event begins on Monday, we take a look at what has been confirmed so far, as well as what we hope to see from the world's largest mobile trade show.

Transformation and applications

The world of mobile communications is changing. No longer are we tied to bricks that we can only use for crackly phone calls - we have the world at our fingertips through smartphones, tablets and other portable devices.

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To this end, the organisers of MWC have decided that the theme of this year's event will be one of 'transformation.'

"The mobile ecosystem is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of transformation," the organisers claim on the MWC website.

"As business models adapt, new verticals and players emerge. Technology evolves, perceptions shift, and lives are improved."

They claimed the conference would be at the heart of showing 50,000 senior mobile attendees from around 200 countries how this world was changing. The event will also help attendees network, make new contacts and hopefully create new deals as the world economy starts to recover and investment and innovation come back into play.

In addition to the umbrella theme of transformation, MWC has increased its focus on applications.

Dubbed App Planet, the push for mobile applications at the show indicates the massive change they are making, both in the corporate and consumer spheres.

At just the start of this year, Gartner claimed application revenue would explode by 1,000 per cent, reaching $58 billion by 2014.

Now, many may see apps as just silly little games and consumer toys but for the mobile or remote worker, applications are becoming very important to daily workloads and the all-important work/life balance.

Companies such as Salesforce.com have already made their services available on mobile platforms and the growth of tablets in the office is leading to more and more corporate applications being developed.

It will be interesting to see what other tools will be unveiled at the conference to make our work life that bit easier on the move.

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Nokia/Windows Phone 7 device?

Today's big news has been the coming together of mobile manufacturing heavyweight Nokia and US software giant Microsoft.

In a joint press conference this morning, attended by IT PRO, the chief executives (CEOs) of the two firms - Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer - outlined their strategy going forward for Windows Phone 7 to become the "primary" operating system for Nokia handsets.

It's the final nail in the coffin for Symbian, alas. However, the companies refused to confirm when the first handset would be launched, despite admitting their engineers had been working together "closely" for quite some time.

Nokia has its own press conference on Sunday night, with Steve Ballmer taking to the stage 24 hours later for the opening keynote of the show. Could we be seeing the first handset announced in either of these presentations?

Galaxy Tab 2?

Samsung has already made a song and dance about a number of handsets it will be launching at this year's MWC. But the rumour of a second iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet is what has got tongues wagging.

The first version only arrived on our shores less than six months ago and, thus far, the Android-based device has received a varied response from reviewers.

Rumours around the second one, however, have got the industry excited again. The screen size is reported to be bigger, going from seven inches to 10.1in and there's talk of an eight megapixel camera to accompany a three megapixel front-facing one and the addition of the ever-popular Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset.

If it also comes with the awaited Android 2.3 and has the capability to upgrade to Honeycomb on its arrival, then we could have an exciting tablet on our hands.

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