World's biggest mobile phone show opens in Barcelona

16th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Major players of the mobile phone industry unveil latest innovations to help drive declining demand at Mobile World Congress.

BARCELONA – The world's biggest mobile phone event opens Monday in Barcelona where the industry is set to unveil its latest innovations that it hopes will drive demand through the global economic downturn.

The Mobile World Congress, which runs Monday to Thursday, is set to bring together 60,000 industry insiders from 1,200 companies, according to the organisers, the GSM Association.

All the major network operators such as Vodafone, MTN and China Mobile will be present, as well as handset makers like Nokia and Samsung. Microsoft, Yahoo! and a host of start-ups looking to tout their new products will also attend.

As well as glitzy launches and new industry initiatives, the economic crisis is set to cast a pall over the gathering with cost-cutting and survival the new concerns of an industry that has become accustomed to constant growth.

Leading research group Gartner predicts that annual sales of handsets will fall this year.

The GSM Association announced Monday the first in a number of industry initiatives, saying that 60 mobile phone operators had linked up to develop new "chat" functionality for subscribers.

The aim is to enable phone users to see which of the contacts in their address book is available and then allow them to start instant messaging with a system that would also transfer photos and video.

Chat programmes are available for mobile phones, but so far are not synchronised with the address book of a user. The first versions are set to go live in the second half of this year.

One among many new product launches expected at the show will be the first mobile phones from Taiwan-based IT manufacturer Acer. One of them, according to rumours on mobile phone blogs, will have screens on both sides.

Elsewhere, US actor and director Kevin Spacey will bring some Hollywood glamour when he hands out prizes at the Mofilm event here, which showcases short films made specifically for mobile phones.

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[AFP / Expatica]

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