The Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile-focused trade show, starts on Feb. 25 in Barcelona. If the Consumer Electronics Show in the U.S. and Internationale Funkausstellung in Germany showcase TVs and home appliances, at the MWC mobile devices take center stage.
Around 1,500 telecoms and handset makers will participate in this year's exhibition.
◆ Bigger Screens
Market researcher Strategy Analytics cites three trends that will dominate the exhibition. The first is the disappearing boundary between smartphones and tablet PCs. Most of the new devices will feature five-inch or larger screens.
LG Electronics will showcase its Optimus G Pro smartphone with a 5.5-inch full HD screen. China's Huawei and ZTE will also introduce smartphones with five- to six-inch screens. More and more smartphones have bigger screens as their uses go beyond mere mobile communication and are increasingly being used to watch movies, play games and search the Internet.
Samsung Electronics will unveil the Galaxy Note 8 with an eight-inch screen, which is meant to compete with Apple's iPad Mini that comes with a 7.9-inch screen.
Samsung's strategy is to apply the "core features" of the popular five-inch Galaxy Note smartphone to a tablet PC, a company spokesman said. "There are going to some changes in the tablet PC sector, where Apple has the lead."
Analysts say Samsung came up with the gadget because it needs to boost its miserly share of the global tablet PC market.
◆ Chinese Companies
The second marked trend is the growing competitiveness of Chinese smartphone makers. Huawei will introduce the Ascend Mate featuring a 6.1-inch screen, as well as the Ascend P2 and Ascend D2 with five-inch screens.
ZTE hopes to take the market by storm with its 5.7-inch Grand Memo. Strategy Analytics said Huawei and ZTE are trying to improve their technologies in a variety of areas from hardware and software to services. It also cited Lenovo as a Chinese firm to watch out for.
The third trend is the transformation in operating systems. Google's Android OS, which accounts for 70 percent of the global market, is expected to face serious challenges. Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Samsung-Intel's Tizen are the key rivals that are appearing on the horizon. ZTE will showcase the world's first smartphone equipped with the Mozilla Firefox OS.
Among many big industry figures to attend the congress are the CEOs of Korean telecoms. KT CEO Lee Suk-chae will be the first of them to give the keynote speech at the MWC. SK Telecom president Ha Sung-min and other executives are also planning to attend. SK is the only domestic telecommunications service provider to open a large, independent booth at the MWC.
The CEOs of Qualcomm, Nokia, Vodaphone, Ericsson and AT&T are also attending to discuss the latest issues in the industry.