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Mobile Sector in 2009 : The Top Trends

What will be the top trends in 2009? Google's Android should make a bigger impact in 2009 as more handset manufacturers look for an open source smartphone operating system.

Nokia's more mature Symbian OS may be regarded as too much of a threat coming from a competitor, as well as being regarded, rightly or wrongly, as yesterday's technology.

In that respect Chinese handsets may migrate from being cheap clones to a realistic alternative to the established manufacturers, especially with value for money being a critical motivator in a recession. Bespoke handsets from Zzzphone and others could define a new market for those wanting something different and sparkly.

Handset technology will also continue to be ramped up. Touch screens, GPS, 5 & 8Mpx cameras will become the new standard. Perhaps the other networks will learn from Three and introduce their own high end integrated application handsets; though I doubt they will based on their previous efforts.

We should also see improvements in memory capacity, processor speeds and not before time, 3D graphic capabilities.

Mobile Web 2.0 applications and widgets will make a real impact next year. Facebook, VoIP, IM, presence, location and many other applications will all be more plentiful and usable as developers absorb the feedback from the first run of iPhone apps. This experience will feed across all platforms.

FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) is already being used by Nokia to update handsets without the hassle of a PC or user intervention. This may spread to other handsets and manufacturers, which can only be welcomed considering the abysmal standard of launch software.

A consequence of the recession will be an increasing number of SIM only deals benefitting customers and networks alike. It costs the networks oodles of money subsidising handsets and non payment of contracts. So by offering low tariffs and no shiny handset the networks are quids in.

The flip side is that more of the networks will want a 24month commitment before giving away a free handset. That will be a commitment too far for many new and existing customers.

A threat to this network nirvana comes from the MVNO's such as Tesco, Lycamobile and Blyk. Tesco are aggressively targeting their regular customers with cheap Tesco branded deals and supporting this expanded venture with new in-store departments focused on all things telecom.

With Tesco's having better deals than their carrier network, T-Mobile, the existing operators should be worried.

Lycamobile may be a newbie niche MVNO player but it offers exceptionally low international calling rates Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. This could attract a heck of a big niche targeted through corner and community shops.