Mobile phones are increasingly becoming the main communication tool for private and business use and 2010 promises to offer users a number of innovations.
Smart phones are better placed than the standard mobile phone to deal with these advances because of their large display screens and speedy internet connections.
There are already phones on the market using 1 gigahertz chips, says Andy Rubin, who works on Google’s Android platform.
“Soon we’ll have mobile phones with 2Ghz processors, which is more than in a lot of laptops,” he predicts, pointing out that a PC is no longer necessary to access emails, to quickly check the net or to update your Facebook page.
According to BITKOM - Germany’s Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media - the number of smart phones in Germany is set to increase this year by 47 per cent to 8.2 million devices.
Mobile phone traffic in Germany has exploded with wireless data transfer increasing nearly fourfold in 2009 to 40 million gigabytes.
Not surprisingly, more and more manufacturers want a slice of this pie. Microsoft hopes to win its share through its new mobile phone system Windows Phone 7.
The new software for smart phones was presented at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and is much more user-friendly than the older Windows Mobile 6.5. The objective is to simplify the organizing of data that is available to the user on their mobile phone or on the internet.
Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer announced in Barcelona a whole series of new Windows phones which should be coming on the market in the second half of 2010.
One of the challengers to Microsoft is Google, with its Android platform.
A year or so ago, the G1 and a phone by HTC were the only Android phones on sale, says Rubin. “Now there are 27 models on the market, which are available in 59 countries.” Others will soon be available for example from Sony Ericsson, which presented Android models at the Mobile World Congress, including the very compact X10 mini and X10 mini pro.
Google is banking on the openness of the system to ensure success.
In principle, anyone can write an Android app, offering phone users the chance to be as creative as they want with the software and allowing them to set up their phone according to their needs.
Nokia and Intel are also following the same path. In Barcelona, both companies presented their joint MeeGo project - an open-source platform for mobile phones and other devices.
The price of smart phones continues to drop, leading Weili Dai of chip producer Marvell to believe that a 99-dollar device - his company’s objective - will soon be on the market.
“However, as the price of phones sinks the demand for more and more high-speed functionality grows,” Dai points out.
Marvell presented a chip in Barcelona that offered the capability of dealing with HD videos and 3D games but which was also cheap enough to be used in the lower-priced mobile phone range.
Interestingly, mobile phone maker Sagem believes that chips or operating systems don’t play as large a role for the customer as the brand.
“This year we will see a whole series of new mobile devices and services on offer,” says Jerome Nadel of Sagem Wireless. “But the most interesting development is the appearance of lifestyle brands on the mobile phone market.” For its part, Sagem is offering the Puma Phone, which it developed together with the sport manufacturer Puma.
Another trend is “Near Field Communication” technology, which, for example, allows a user to pay for goods via mobile phone.
Sagem’s Cozyphone supports the technology, which is already in daily use in Japan, where, among other things, flight tickets can be bought at ticket machines using a mobile phone.
Soon Nokia is hoping to launch a similar phone-paying service called OviMoney in India. In the not too distant future, the mobile phone might not only be an MP3 Player, a digital camera and a diary, but also a wallet.