by Suzanne Panoplos
Mobile World Congress (MWC) has traditionally been the bellwether for the mobile industry – what is launched at this industry gathering pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the year. Typically, mobile devices tend to grab the lion’s share of the attention by both the media and attendees alike, who roam the convention halls and the avenue in search of the latest and coolest gadgets.
This year’s event shouldn’t disappoint as all indicators are pointed toward an endless parade of announcements unveiling some of the latest and greatest mobile devices. The HTX One X, LTE-based handsets from ZTE running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the Optimuz Vu are Android phones expected to wow users with increased functionality, higher processing powers and more features and functionality. All are designed to encourage usage for both work and play by providing the processing power and features needed to accommodate both business and personal applications.
Additionally, companies such as Acer, Lenovo, Motorola and Sony will be all previewing their 7 inch tablets, further blurring the lines between what constitutes a smartphone and what qualifies as a tablet. The much anticipated Windows 8 Consumer Preview will also be unveiled during Mobile World Congress. Although Microsoft is keeping pretty tight-lipped about what will be included with the limited release, many are expecting it to come complete with a new UI and some popular game such as Angry Birds. The burning question is whether or not there will be any new devices launcehd at the show based on Windows 8? Only time will tell.
What's clear is that mobile device makers are rolling out products and features aimed squarely at bridging the gap between home and work. Although we’ve had the ability for quite some time to use our phone for both work and pleasure, the latest set of smart devices are becoming well - even smarter - and are further enabling a blended lifestyle.
These devices offer increased convenience and productivity for consumers; however, for the enterprise, this sets in motion a greater urgency to establish formal BYOD policies while developing best practices for mobile device management and security. IT departments must find a way to manage the influx of devices into the organization, without compromising the security or integrity of their networks. I think we will see many more announcements at MWC offering more sophisticated management and control capabilities to harried IT managers.
For mobile operators, both opportunity and new challenges are on the horizon – spurred on by the proliferation of devices and the consumer’s hunger for both minutes and applications. Operators must find new ways to manage the traffic brought on by the proliferation of these devices and applications; but even more importantly, they must find ways to compete with Over-the-Top (OTT) competition by offerings their own set of value-added applications and technologies beyond their traditional business models.
If MWC marks the beginning of the year in the mobile world, 2012 should be a year of great change and opportunity for consumers, enterprises and mobile operators.