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Home > Business > Special

How smart is your mobile phone?

Priyanka Joshi | December 12, 2006

A report from Merrill Lynch says developing countries including South-east Asia, Africa, eastern Europe and the Middle East will consume 63 per cent of global phone sales in 2007, up from 42 per cent in 2003. It also expects China and India alone to account for more than 25 per cent of unit sales in 2007.

Expectedly, the efforts to popularise mobile mania are going to turn even more aggressive and sophisticated in 2007. Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and even smaller regional players like Spice are expected to introduce newer product innovations, designs at variable price lines to facilitate mobile adoption.

The very fact that Nokia will be setting up exclusive Nokia Nseries zones in over 600 outlets and close to 20 Nseries multimedia experience zones in malls by next year tells us that the market leader is leaving no stone unturned.

Likewise, Motorola is betting heavily on design and form factors, Samsung on its screen resolutions and imaging, and LG is mulling over ways to capitalise with its Chocolate. The manufacturers seem to agree that new generation mobiles must pack in a lot more than simple camera and audio functions.

Here's a list of must-haves on your mobile in 2007.

Internet on the go: Undoubtedly, the most pushed service in 2006 will continue to dominate in 2007. Marketed heavily by service providers and supported vehemently by mobile manufacturers, the mobile Internet rests right at the top.

Presently, India can claim to have more than 6 million GPRS subscribers, but industry remains optimistic over its adoption. Says Vineet Taneja, multimedia business director (India), Nokia, "With Nseries, our main thrust is to push Net-based applications like mobile blogging, picture sharing, online music downloads among Indians."

The third screen: Recently, Texas Instruments demonstrated personal video recording capabilities for mobiles at the International Broadcasting Convention.

The technology allows people to record a television programme on their mobile phone and then watch it later. The PVR technology should find its way into mobile phones in 2007.

Although no vendor names were revealed, handset makers like Samsung and Nokia have shown serious interest in marketing phones for television viewing.

Samsung has declared its intention to develop a new display driver that can adjust the brightness of a display according to ambient lighting conditions. Due for mass production at the end of this year, it should make displays easier to view in broad daylight.

Getting television on to mobiles is sure to present new opportunities for operators. Also, it is likely to be the next big battleground for subscribers, despite some questions - How people will take to such services? Will consumers pay to get content delivered? - hovering in the background.

I'm here: Satellite-based navigation systems embedded in mobile phones have been touted as a great tool by developed mobile markets. Global positioning systems give near accurate results and with Nokia, HP already incorporating various navigators in their mobile phones, the technology will be promoted heavily in 2007.

Nokia's N95 with GPS navigation features is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2007. But lack of digitised maps and an irregular city infrastructure has hampered the spread of GPS in India till now, along with the need to have a GPRS connection to run the GPS services. The success of GPS harbingers on both GPRS adoption and availability of digitised and accurate maps.

Hosts of applications: Barcode ticketing is fast emerging as a low cost but reliable option for exhibitors like PVR and Adlabs. Not restricted by the handset type, these services could be adopted in retail sectors as well.

Retailers like Wal-Mart and Carrefour issue barcode discount coupons to consumers in developed markets and there's no reason why this should not be adopted in India.

Music-on-demand (again, restricted by GPRS penetration) would continue to be a killer application. Mobile handsets like the Nokia N91 or Sony Ericsson Walkman series that facilitate one-button click downloads would gain traction among subscribers.

"Music remains the sweet spot for us and we will continue our innovation to make music downloads and storage easier with Nseries,"' promises Nokia.

In a nutshell, the time is not far when your mobile will direct you to your location, spell out the weather forecast for the day, run a news service to inform you about the stock market upheaval even as you log in (through your mobile) to check emails! Or so the mobile phone players believe.

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