Mobile World Congress 2013: the best products
As Mobile World Congress 2013 draws to a close in Barcelona, we look at some of the hits of the show.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Following up the well-received Xperia Z mobile phone, Sony’s tablet is thin and light at less than 7mm and 500g. Although Sony emphasises that the gadget is powerful and easy to integrate with other devices, the defining characteristic is the design that for the first time challenges the cheap plastic of almost every device except the iPad. Sony’s challenge, however, will be to persuade people to use its music and film services when so many others are available, and to price it right when so many competitors are very cheap.
Nokia announced new Windows Phones that will sell for several hundred pounds, but the most exciting products were those aimed squarely at the developing world. That makes particular sense when the predecessor to the 150 sold 100million units over its life span. The new model offers a battery that lasts for a month at just £13. Although cheaper phones are available, brand recognition across Africa for Nokia remains huge. For the future, the company promises to introduce smartphone features lower down its ranges, potentially allowing it to capture a new market that will become more lucrative.
The Firefox web browser is soon to be expanded to power entire mobile phones aimed initially at the developing world. Made by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation, the aim is to provide cheap devices using software that is completely free for manufacturers to use. This in theory challenges Android, but apparently widespread support from operators may not run very deep if it doesn’t impress early on. Sadly, the devices on display don’t yet do enough or run sufficiently smoothly to convince.
Samsung Galaxy S4
It used to be Apple that tried to spoil MWC with big announcements – now it’s Samsung. The Korean giant successfully overshadowed much of the show by announcing that the world’s most anticipated Android handset would launch next month in New York. Few have any idea what it will do, but since no new flagship phones were announced at MWC itself this year, the company was able to capitalise on a news gap. The S4 will be a key product for Samsung: it needs to maintain the growing loyalty of consumers to its innovative products, and continue to introduce serious new features rather than simply to improve its current best-seller. With Google powering the software, the market leader must prove it’s got more than simply momentum on its side.