Mark Bridge writes:
We’re back from Mobile World Congress – and what a show it was. Located at a new site that saw more visitors than ever before, the show had everything… except any particularly obvious theme from hardware manufacturers. Last year was the year of the quad-core smartphone, this year there was plenty of incremental innovation but nothing truly startling.
Probably the biggest shock was the lack of a flagship handset announcement from Samsung, which released an 8-inch tablet and told us the Galaxy S4 (probably not the Galaxy SIV, given the opportunity for sieve-related humour) would be launched on 14th March.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of interest in Mozilla’s Firefox operating system, which was being shown off on smartphones from Alcatel, LG and ZTE. LG also surprised quite a few people by picking up what’s left of the webOS platform from HP. It says it’ll be putting it inside televisions – although that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t ever see an LG webOS smartphone.
Mobile payments were (still) on the agenda in Barcelona; Visa, Samsung, MasterCard and BlackBerry all had announcements about their plans. There was plenty of research as well, covering everything from mobile advertising to mobile security and SMS spam.
And there were prizes from the GSMA for Samsung and Nokia, plus an award for crowd-sourced coverage map app OpenSignal (UK’s Most Innovative Mobile Company 2013) and the Tethercell battery adaptor (Bluetooth Breakthrough Award).
But not all the week’s big news came from MWC13. Telefonica saved the introduction of its TU Go VoIP app until after the show. It’ll let O2 UK customers make and receive ‘mobile’ calls on any compatible internet-connected device. In addition, it decided to sell its O2 and BE fixed-line broadband businesses to Sky.
Finally, the UK’s 4G auction also came to its official end with Ofcom allocating specific spectrum bands for each winning bidder. BT and Vodafone paid an extra £27 million to choose exactly where in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands they’d be operating, increasing the total raised by the auction from £2.341 billion to £2.368 billion. No, those figures aren’t the week’s most exciting news but at least it means the winners can all start rolling out 4G coverage across the UK!
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