Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Busy Mobile 2009

A lot of tech companies have done well in the last few  years.  Some have done better than others.  That is without a doubt.  So, it's safe for us at Onxo to say that we won't see the kind of wholesale failures that this credit market has inflicted on the banks and investment firms.

So, Samsung, Acer, Dell, HP, RIM, and Apple will likely be keeping mobile warriors happy with new softwares and gears through this economic downturn.  I truly envy those with disposal capital to spend on these cool toys.

First up will be GSMA in Barcelona.  Yes, my fellow American mobile warriors.  Not everything revolves around the US I'm afraid.

A lot of mobile gears will make their debut between Feb 16-19.  Heck, even Acer is getting in on the action after they took the pole position with netbook sales.  A quick glance at the exhibitor list has HP, Sony, RIM, and Samsung at the show.  From the list, it looks to be a busy event.

It's no Davos but I think Barcelona is where mobile folks wants to be.  Who cares if Clinton, Putin, or the diminishing bankers aren't here.

Then what?  Looking at production cycles of the past, we may see RIM refresh some of their smartphone lines.  I doubt we'll see a new version of Bold or Storm in the first quarter.  I would say second quarter is possible but third quarter more likely.

For Google's Android, we're suppose to get an update, Cupcake, any time now.  A hardware update is direly needed.  Seriously, compared to the sleekness of the iPhone, Bold, and Pre, the G1 leaves a lot to be desired.

Besides, HTC, others are also working on their own Android phones.  Samsung and Motorola.  Samsung is doing well and Motorola is looking at an Android phone, a Pre of their own, to save what's left of their mobile device operation.

And speaking of Pre, this is going to be interesting.  Palm didn't give up a date.  I wouldn't even call "some time in the first half of 2009" a range.  Are you kidding me?  Your whole future rides this and you can tell your fans and investors when it'll come out?  Regardless, the Pre has me excited and I'm hoping for a T-Mobile version in the second half of 2009.  I'm not switching to Sprint just to use it.

Okay, you probably think I'm going right into Apple and the iPhone.  Not yet.  I'm wondering what Nokia is up to.  Lots of folks believe Apple will take the crown for smartphones (I still don't think of the iPhone as just a smartphone) but Nokia has been in this business for a long time.  They've seen what RIM did with Storm and how Android hasn't quite set the mobile world on fire.  Sight still on the iPhone.  N97 is pretty cool but much as with the rest of the industy, it looks more like a "me too" rather than anything revolutionary.  However, I'll take that over the G1 any day.

Now, Apple.  No idea or clue.  We'll see the iPod Touch refreshed in the fall just in time for what's likely to be another dismal Holidays Season.  More memory - definitely.  Other features are likely but with voice just added with 2nd gen iPod Touch, we might see more softwares that utilize it.  The headset could be upgraded to one with voice capability like the one they're selling now.

iPhone.  Money's on June/July time frame.  There's no hurry right now for Apple to rush anything out.  Personally, I'll settle for longer battery life with 3G use and more memory.  I kind of like the first iPhone look. These plastic white and black cases doesn't do it for me.  Expect Apple to make it thinner if they can.  I think most of the improvements will happen on the software front rather than hardware.  Love to see more Jetson features but given the battery life as it is, it's not gonna happen.  Rumors will carry us through boring days but don't get too excited, okay?

Now, netbooks, UMPC, and tablets.  I probably wouldn't have used one (given how poor I am) but I was majorly upset when Nokia ended their N810 WiMax edition.  Dude, what's up with that?  Ever heard of perseverance, Nokia?

We're likely going to see a new tablet from Nokia in 2009.  It really hasn't done much with it nor has Nokia promote the heck out of it either.  It stands to reason that if they spend even a quarter of the effort they spend on the handsets, the N820 or whatever they decide to number it will really be one heck of a device.  Add E-ink tech in there and it'll really blow the Kindle out of the water.

This goes the same for the iPhone platform.  Already e-reading is very popular on the iPhone and iPod Touch.  I spend a great portion of my time on these Apple devices reading.  Of course, I love to a bigger screen just for that.  I can really use a tablet based on the iPhone platform but that's wishful thinking.  We'll see Apple tablet rumors another three to four times in 2009 but I doubt we'll actually see the device.  Nokia and Archos can really take this opportunity to rule this segment of the market.

And guys, innovate.  Don't think just because Apple doesn't have a tablet means you can sit pretty.  They're perfecting another "insanely great" revolution here.

And how about Android on a netbook or UMPC?  Well, that's difficult to say.  I'm sure Google and Android partners has locked up some top engineers and won't let them see the light of day until they crank out something really cool.  Okay, forget the cool part.  Just Android on a netbook or tablet.

It'll be a busy year as device makers try to grab an increasing mobile market that is expanding beyond simple handsets and smartphones.

So, how about mobile gaming?  DSi for America in April.  That's so lame.

Briefly about Apple gaming.  I honestly don't know if anyone is afraid of the iPhone or iPod Touch in gaming but I'm sure Nintendo and Sony are looking at the multi-touch potential really hard.  And given the diminishing pricing on in the app store, I think tier one developers aren't crazy about bring over their franchise games to Apple's mobile platform.  There are a few.  Konami has a few coming and EA with Spores.  But we'll have to see how these folks make out with volume instead.  Love to see a great Madden or Tiger Woods though.

Back to DSi.  With it's older DS sibling, it's outselling PSP in Japan...and pretty much everywhere else.  Sony needs PSP2.  Again, Onxo will not traffic rumors but we've heard a lot of PSP2 chatter lately.  It means nothing without Sony confirming it.

PSP 3000 came out in August of 2008 (wiki), so if PSP2 comes out this summer or the fall, that would really be something to watch.  Take that, iPod Touch!

Okay, but the thing to watch for mobile gaming is Nintendo and Sony's app stores.  Those we'll see in 2009.

And speaking of app stores, just about every mobile platform from Windows Mobile to Nokia to RIM will have one this year.

Like I said, 2009 will be quite busy.  Mobile warriors, rejoice!

Link:  Mobile World Congress

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