There is no denying that last year was the smartphone year, it was the dawn of Android, and at the same time we saw the mobile applications exploded while more buyers preferred a smartphone instead of an expensive feature ‘dumbphone’.
Samsung Bada:The Korean manufacturer has always been one to continuously dabble in different mobile OSs, launching devices using both Windows Mobile and Symbian in addition to its own feature phone OS. In November last year, Samsung announced its own mobile platform, called Bada. It is a platform that could rival earlier smartphone OSs such as Symbian, which is mostly used by Nokia. There has not yet been a mobile device launched using the operating system, but when it does, we will get a decent camera (the company has always been great with multimedia), a touch screen and an app store running soon after the first devices are released.
NFC: NFC (Near Field Communication) went through trials a couple of years ago and it looks like manufacturers are finally now considering integrating the technology into mainstream devices. Nokia started the trend with its own trial run with an NFC chip built in to the budget 6131 model. Some beta testers used the cellphone for a year for contactless payments, oystercard travel, and digital concert tickets. It has almost been nearly neglected to other more attractive phone features developments, however Nokia has already announced it’s aiming for the technology to be in all its new phone models by 2012. A rumor said that, in Q3 or Q4 of 2010, we’ll see Nokia going into Near Field Communication in a big way. They’ll be bringing forward a good deal of new phones with integrated NFC chips.
Maemo and Other Linux-based OSs: In 2010, Symbian-based devices will experience little or no growth, while Linux-based platforms such as Maemo will slowly grab more position in the market. We have already seen how Maemo powers the Nokia N900 and it does work nicely. For Maemo-based phones, Nokia seems to have returned to the ‘mobile computer’ idea, first brought up with its N-series devices, meaning big screen, speedy processor and a good browser. We can expect more Maemo-powered devices start to pop up later this year.
iPhone 4G: The iPhone 4G is among the biggest rumors spreading on the web now. As always, perhaps the next iPhone iteration will be launched in June 2010 at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference. Several different parts suppliers have leaked their contracts with Apple. If the rumor is true, it appears the iPhone 4G will see a significant upgrade in camera performance (perhaps 5 megapixels). The rumors started after OmniVision, the manufacturer of the iPhone 3GS camera, leaked that it had received a large-scale order of 5 megapixel camera sensors.
Google Android: Last year was certainly the dawn of Google Android and this year will be its adolescent year, where it grows up and becomes a more powerful rival to Symbian, Windows and BlackBerry. The first change was that many higher-end Android phones were upgradeable to ver.2.0, essentially in line with the Motorola Milestone. We will see a few improvements, for example multi-touch support, unified email inbox, and better browser. Version 2.1 of the Android operating system is currently used with the Google’s own handset, Nexus One.
HTC, LG and Motorola will use Android in some of their newest phones this year, while, Sony Ericsson will release its first Google Android handset, the Xperia X10. If the phone is a success then it might well mean more Android handsets from the Swedish company. Acer has also announced about bringing more Android handsets to market this year, although it won’t be ditching Windows Mobile OS just yet.
Mobile applications: A couple of years ago, the Apple App Store had propelled the mobile applications market. Now, there are nearly 130,000 apps available for the iPod Touch and iPhone, while other stores including BlackBerry App World, Android Market, Windows Marketplace and Ovi Store are lagging seriously behind.
However, this year, other stores may begin to catch up with the App Store. For example, top heads at Google are expecting that the Android Market will have about 150,000 apps on offer by January 2011.
Microsoft hasn’t yet stated it predictions, nor has RIM, but if both companies want to be a big contender in the smartphone market, a rich selection of apps is essential for success.
Google phone: Rumors of Google’s own smartphone had been circulating for years and now the Internet giant has at last launched the Nexus One. The handset features a 5 megapixel camera, 3.5G connectivity (HSDPA) up to 7.2Mbps, a 1 GHZ Snapdragon CPU, and an upgraded Android OS (ver. 2.1).
It’s the first handset to show up in Google’s Mobile store, where the search engine giant will also sell a few other Android-based devices, like those manufactured by HTC and Motorola.
Sony Ericsson Smartphones: The company has a long experience in smartphone market and had used most major OSs. The Xperia X1 and X2 were powered by Windows, the Satio sported Symbian and X10 will use Android. Sony Ericsson has hinted that a successor of the Satio will be released in 2010 and this time the critical firmware glitches should be completely ironed out before the device hits the shelves. It is likely that Sony Ericsson will add more to the existing Android models, because the X10 appears pretty impressive from where we are standing.
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