Quick update from Barcelona

mwc_barcelona

There’s a lot happening over here in Barcelona, where I’m attending the Mobile World Congress. It’s been a lot of walking and talking for me, so I haven’t been able to capture a lot of news for the blog. Here are some of re highlights for the past couple of days, which I thought would be interesting to share.

1. First off, mobile operators and device manufacturers have finally agreed to support a common standard for mobile chargers! I wrote about this a couple of years back. The standard chosen is Micro USB, so the charging port can also double up as a sync / accessory connector. The major manufacturers, including Nokia, are supporting this effort. Hopefully Apple will join the bandwagon as well. I’m looking forward to the day of having just one charger for multiple devices, and a more efficient charger at that.

2. The conference sessions so far have been interesting. The next evolution of GSM/HSPA and CDMA/EVDO will converge to LTE ( Long Term Evolution). Apparently this will happen sooner than we think, with Verizon in the US taking lead with some early deployments this year and next year. In a couple of years, we’ll be experiencing mobile broadband as fast as fixed broadband today.

3. Yesterday (Wednesday) there was a good presentation from Google. Their Latitude location-based system has been a great success, reaching a million users in just a week. Latitude allows you to view your friend’s physical location, and vice versa. Google also demonstrated location-based voice search. If you search for “weather”, for example, it will show you the local weather according to where you are. Most promising : offline Gmail, which we have seen for the desktop, will also be available for mobiles. We saw this feature on the iPhone and Android G1, which were identical. We also had a glimpse of Google Maps on the Palm Pre, which was written using web standards.

4. Acer is planning to bring the “netbook effect” to the smartphone market. We’ll see a lot more devices from them this year. I’ve seen the devices, which are pretty decent. Unfortunately I can’t say much about them at this point.

5. A certain giant company is working on a platform that embraces apps for other platforms, which is exciting if done right. I’m under NDA on this one, so no details!

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