Like in previous years, Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress will unofficially kickstart on Sunday evening and there are quite a few exciting things, other than the glorious weather, the gorgeous food and a glass of Sangria, that I’m looking forward to this year.
2013 will be the first time since 2006 that the Mobile World Congress will move away permanently from its usual location, the Fira de Barcelona. The new location of GSMA’s most prominent event will be the Fira Gran Via, situated only a few kilometres away. With twice the surface area, a significantly more eco-friendly set up, a bigger conference auditorium and 270 additional Wi-Fi hotspots, it should be large enough to cater for the growing event. Check out this dedicated infographics that depicts the main improvements. However, many may complain about the fact that it is quite far from the bustling centre of the Catalan city and will add a significant number of minutes to the commute to and fro the event location.
I’ve got a feeling that we will see a few more Windows Phone 8 handsets being unveiled at MWC. The big three, Samsung, HTC and Nokia have already shown their flagship models but we’re more interested with the mainstream ones. The Lumia 620 and the HTC Windows Phone 8S are the only two true models with the three others costing £300 or more. Oh and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Sony unveiled a Windows Phone 8 handset as well, one based on the Xperia T or the Xperia Z? Lest not forget ZTE and Huawei, both of whom, will almost certainly unveil smartphones that use Microsoft’s latest operating system. And could there be another dark horse? Maybe Alcatel One-touch?
MWC 2013 will also witness the rise of a new smartphone operating system, Firefox OS, one which aims to rival Google’s Android and its pseudo-open approach and will be supported from the onset by mobile phone operators like Telefonica and Deutsche-Telekom. “Boot to Gecko” will focus on an entry-level audience in emerging markets and champion HTML5 and Mozilla-proposed standard APIs and Chinese manufacturer ZTE has already announced that it will be launching a smartphone that runs on Firefox OS on 25 February. It will be interesting to see how it performs against the other open source mobile platforms: Open WebOS project, the Samsung-backed Tizen, Baidu Yi, the Meego-infused Sailfish OS and Ubuntu OS phone platform.
Mobile World Congress happens less than two months after the other big tech event of the beginning of the year CES. Increasingly every year, CES cannibalizes MWC’s audience and prospective customers (e.g. Sony Mobile and Qualcomm), perhaps highlighting the fact that mobility is becoming mainstream and the distinction between mobile and non-mobile is becoming blurry. Windows RT, perhaps more than anything else, exemplifies it which is why we expect to see more devices (tablets, smartphones, hybrid etc) based on Microsoft’s other operating system, appear at MWC. And it is will an easier way for MWC to get back at CES as the two events battle out to avoid being marginalized and become another Comdex.
2010 saw the launch of the first dual-core ARM-based system-on-chip flowed the following year by the first quad-core model, both from Nvidia’s Tegra family. 2013, we believe will see the rise of the first octo-core SoC, which unlike Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa chipset, will have eight similar cores. It’s worth noting that in the world of mainstream x86, quad-core is as far as things have gone. Both Intel and AMD have CPUs with six cores, going up to 12-cores but they focus on niche market. We believe Mediatek will become the first to unveil an 8-core ARM-based SoC, the MTK6599, one which will zero in on the mainstream market rather than focusing on the top-end. It is highly likely that this will be based on the Cortex-A7 because of efficiency gains at the silicon level. An octo-core implementation of the Cortex-A7 etched using a 28nm process is likely to take less die area than a Cortex-A9 dual-core implementation at 40nm while significantly outperforming it.