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PocketGPSWorld.com Event Article

Mobile World Congress: 16-19 Feb 2009 Barcelona

Mobile World Congress is the most important global tradefair for mobile phones and the underlying technologies and infrastructure. MWC attracts both visitors and exhibitors from around the globe, showcasing the latest developments in the marketplace. MWC is quite different from the other trade shows we visit as it is totally targeted towards mobile communications.

Despite the global recession there are lots of announcements and excitement buzzing around just in time for the show. Garmin and Asus are collaborating to produce the NuviPhone, CSR have just taken over SiRF. Android seems to be on everyone's lips... Not forgetting the Apple iPhone. Apple will not be there, but there are many other companies with iPhone accessories and applications. We are already hearing rumours of more Navigation applications, but none have reached the AppStore yet.

I will be travelling light for this show and will not have my computer with me, but hopefully I will be able to keep you up to date using the on-site press facilities.

Created by Mike Barrett on Friday, February 13 @ 16:24:00 UTC

MWC 2009 Wrapup: My personal view of the event and the market.

For me the 2009 Mobile World Congress was all about location. I know that the last few years have been the same, but this year everyone was talking location.

The industry seems to have woken up and realised that the mobile phone market is not A-B navigation, indeed A-B navigation is an incidental way down the list of priorities. Towards the top is "Where am I?" or more precisely "What is around me?". This is starting to be integrated into social networking so it extends to "Who is around me?". We are now seeing this functionality consolidating into LBS applications for the phone. To a certain extent this makes a lot of sense. If you are in a car you don't want to be squinting at a small screen, listening to a tinny speaker with no volume. Likewise if you are walking you don't want to lug your heavy PND around in your pocket. This then allows the software to be tailored specifically for your device and the potential uses you would put it to.

On the hardware side of things Android and the iPhone were on peoples lips, but Apple did not have a presence and Android phones were few and far between... Maybe next year when the platform is more established will be the year of the Android. On the Apple front we are seeing lots of companies with iPhone applications, and some openly displaying the "banned" turn by turn navigation applications. With the two platforms we see the difference highlighted between an open system and a controlled system. The only restrictions on the Android platform are the hardware limits, on the Apple front you are tied to a strict contract and any application developed has to pass the Apple App Police and then can only be distributed through the App Store with Apple taking a cut.

It is good to see some new faces like Acer (even though they have acquired e-Ten) and Asus two of the big Consumer Electronics companies entering the market. We also have new devices from HTC (which will be rebranded by carriers) and iMate, not to mention Nokia, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson etc. The introduction of capacitive touch screens is now allowing the manufacturers to include much better, brighter and higher contrast displays. All in all we are moving forwards not in leaps and bounds, but steadily and surely.

Another "big thing" this year was the introduction of MID (Mobile Internet Devices). These are based around the Intel Atom processor and typically are larger wide screen devices with a myriad of connection options to allow you to have |Internet access wherever you are. Most of the devices have built in GPS and can run all sorts of OS, typically full Windows or Linux. Most of the devices we saw looked like late model prototypes though some like the Clarion MID were production models. There is a long way to go with these devices with development required both on finish, software and User Interface, but it wouldn't surprise me to find these replacing PNDs in the next couple of years.

Whilst the theme was still Location, there is still the perennial problem of consolidating all the components and suppliers to provide a full user experience. Apple have shown how to do it with the iPhone and the App Store, but the carriers still seem to be a barrier to mass adoption of the LBS services.

First and foremost there is the issue of data charges, you can get an unlimited data tariff in a single country now at a reasonable price, but roaming is still a big problem. Europe must adopt a similar approach to Mobile Tariffs as the US has done. There must be full access throughout Europe without roaming charges.

The next problem is one of ownership nobody seems to want to take ownership of a full infrastructure package... We see companies like Navteq who are starting to do this now by aggregating and distributing dynamic data, but we need some open standards for contribution, aggregation and distribution of data. I overheard one French Carrier say that they were like ADSL, they provide a connection and you can do what you want with it. Others want data and services but are not willing to pay the data owners, just wanting free data...

This is a trend started by Google, and we are now seeing the knock on effects of it. Google consolidates free data sources and distributes them for free. The processing of the data and infrastructure obviously costs money to maintain, but they recoup this through advertising. This business model is now extending into navigation and LBS. I am not convinced that this is a good thing unless all parties involved in providing data and services are fairly recompensed for their input, if not then we will be relying on voluntary data which can be of questionable quality.

The show itself was well down on attendance despite a claim that 49,000 people had registered. The easy way to tell this was the availability of hotel rooms, and the ease that restaurant tables could be booked, but the most sure way was the fact that you could actually move in Hall 8 where the big handset companies exhibit. Another sure was to tell was that you could actually make and receive mobile phone calls. With over 50,000 people in attendance last year it was almost impossible to use the device that the show was all about.

So in conclusion I believe the show was a big success once again, with a lot of promise of new technologies both hardware and software to come. After four years it seems as if LBS and more particularly Location Aware Social Networking is coming to the fore. I suspect that the carriers have missed out on a golden opportunity to create the infrastructure for LBS services and will be left as effectively Wireless ISPs providing connectivity only. The Apple business model seems to have opened a lot of minds and doors with other companies like Nokia introducing similar systems. Internet everywhere (or at least connected devices) seems to be the way things are going. The year ahead will still be exciting, despite the current economic climate.

Article by Mike Barrett on Thursday, February 26 @ 14:37:46 UTC

Interview with Telmap CEO Oren Nissim and demo of Telmap 5 software

Telmap is not a well known name in the PND GPS World, but in the mobile market they partner with Vodaphone, Orange, AOL and others. Oren says that in Europe 1 in 2 people using mobile navigation will be using a branded Telmap product.

Click here for our interview with Oren Nissim who describes Telmap and we get a demo of the new Telmap 5 software.

Article by Mike Barrett on Thursday, February 26 @ 14:33:18 UTC

TomTom Mobile show Navigator 7 but won't talk to PocketGPSWorld.com!!!

TomTom were showing Navigator 7 running on O2 branded devices. I questioned the TomTom representative on the stand about TomTom's policy to possibly releasing TT Navigator 7 to the loyal users who have supported TomTom from the pre-PND days, but he was unable to answer. Kurt Lyall, Managing Director, Tom Tom Mobile was in a meeting on the booth so I waited for him to finish so I could ask him. Unfortunately he was late for drinks with friends so he could not talk to PocketGPSWorld.com.

This leave us to speculate on TomTom's real plans for Mobile in the future. Hopefully I will be able to get some answers at CeBIT in Hannover next week.

TomTom's Managing Director of Mobile Kurt Lyall

TomTom show Navigator 7
TomTom show Navigator 7

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 19:26:58 UTC

Plantronics show off the latest in the Discovery 925 BT Headset range

Plantronics were showing the latest in BT headsets for mobiles the Plantronics Discovery 925 range. This comes in a number of colours including pink for the ladies. I have a (non-pink) review sample and have found that not only does it have excellent audio it is also comfortable. Priced at 70 these are available now click here for more details.

Plantronics have a special diamond studded gold headset worth $50,000 which will be auctioned for the Elle charity later this year.

Plantronics $50,000 Bluetooth headset
Plantronics $50,000 Bluetooth headset

Plantronics $50,000 Bluetooth headset
Plantronics $50,000 Bluetooth headset

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 19:11:56 UTC

Synaptics show the optical superiority of capacitive touch screens

One of the more interesting companies that I visited was Synaptics. Not a company that many people may know unless you are a manufacturer of devices that use touch screens. Synaptics make the screen overlays that allow the detection of touches.

There are two different touch screen technologies: Resistive and Capacitive.

The resistive screens work by sandwiching two layers together and require a press to determine where the screen has been touched. This is similar to a keyboard. The implementation needs to have layers made of plastics and, despite the advances in plastics, do not give screens with the clarity and optical performance as non-touch screens.

Capacitive screens dont need this layering and they can have direct laminating to much higher optical materials such as glass. The iPhone and Android G1 are typical examples of these types of screens. Capacitive screens also benefit from a more sensitive touch detection system, this allows the interpretation of gestures such as pinching to be implemented. There is a matrix grid on the sensor determining where the touch occurs and this is fed to the host processor through a serial digital interface.

Synaptics provide some processing for the determining of gestures, but there is no standard for gestures. Synaptics explain that this allows device manufacturers to develop their own operational gestures. Personally I would prefer to see the early adopters agree on a standard for gesture interpolation this would make the use of different devices easier, and allow the development of generic drivers from the screen manufacturers.

There is about a 10% price premium for using a capacitive screen as the moment, but this will reduce as mass production reduces manufacturing costs. Currently these screens are not available for Windows Mobile devices, but will become supported in WM6.5 due to be released later this year.

I expect that once the support is there for Windows Mobile devices then the days of resistive screens will be numbered. Then we can all enjoy the beautiful screens in the iPhone and Android G1 devices.

Synaptics capacitive touch screen
Synaptics capacitive touch screen

Synaptics capacitive touch screen
Synaptics capacitive touch screen

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 18:47:13 UTC

Video Interview with Serge Bussat on post Nokia Navteq and mapping futures

It is about six months since Nokia acquired Navteq and I wanted to find out how the takeover was affecting Navteq. Serge Bussat VP Consumer Applications Europe for Nokia discusses some of the (non) effects of the takeover, and where Navteq is headed.

Interesting advances are being made in non-automotive mapping, combined with data aggregation and distribution. A lot of this will be transparent to the user, but is a critical part of delivering dynamic content such as traffic and, in the pedestrian model, current local data such are public transport timings.

Navteq are effectively becoming a platform for delivery of static and dynamic information. This provides an infrastructure on which the innovative and location sensitive new applications can be built.

Click here for our video interview with Serge.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 17:38:39 UTC

3D Mapping from Blom with photo images we interview Blom CEO Hakon Jacobsen

Blom is poised to join the likes of Navteq and Tele Atlas as a provider of digital mapping, but mapping with a difference. Whilst the other companies focus on traditional 2 dimensional mapping Blom specialise in producing aerial photographs and are starting to produce geo-referenced 3D imagery.

I am not convinced about 3D imagery in products for driving, but the potential for pedestrian applications is phenomenal.

Click here for our interview with Hakon Jacobsen who describes how Blom create the maps and what will be happening in the near future.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 17:22:16 UTC

CSR rip a TomTom open and replace the GPS: Interview and demo

CSR has been in the news a lot recently, Lutz had a chance to see them at CES, but we were unable to get a full interview. This changed at MWC when we had full access to the techie guys who explained the new eGPS facilities and also gave us the inside details of their new chipsets.

CSR are focusing on the consolidation of functionality into single chipsets. This has the advantage of lower density on board, and also the ability to use a combination of signal types for positioning, hence the eGPS.

Not for the weak hearted CSR showed us an implementation of the CSR chipset in a TomTom. They had ripped out the GPS chip from the TomTom and replaced it with their own chip which is a lot smaller and more power efficient.

Click here for our interview with the CSR techies and a view of the chipsets and technologies.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 16:54:32 UTC

Tele Atlas LBS Innovator Series winners: Nulaz and Rummble

Tele Atlas also had their LBS competition awards at Mobile World Congress. These are termed the "LBS Innovators Series" there are two categories: Market Ready, which includes commercially-ready LBS applications targeted at consumers, and Disruption Innovation, which includes location-enhanced solutions designed to push the boundaries in the LBS market.

Nulaz is a Web 2.0 service for the mobile phone and Internet that combines location-based information with social networking tools. Nulaz provides information to users about what is happening around them.

Rummble is a location-based discovery tool and social search platform designed to enable consumers to find people and places nearby based on their individual preferences.

Click here for our interview with Tele Atlas VP for Wireless Markets Darrin Wilkey, and the winners Nulaz and Rummble.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 16:35:11 UTC

Seen on the Blackberry stand: Nav4All free navigation for all!!!

A tour of the Blackberry stand revealed a number of partners displaying navigation applications. The one that caught my eye was Nav4All. Nav4All is a free navigation application available for many mobile phones not just Blackberry devices.

Nav4All is one of the batch of location aware social networking applications that are prevalent at MWC this year.

Click here for our interview with Marnix Keokamp and a demo of the Nav4All application.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 16:14:39 UTC

Nokia announce a new Nokia Navigator phone the 6710 and the latest Nokia Maps 3.0

Nokia had many announcements at MWC this year. Apart from the new Ovi Store Nokia announced the latest in the range of Navigator phones along with Nokia Maps 3.0.

Click here for our interview with Nokia VP Connected Devices Markku Suomi who describes the new phone and gives an overview of the new navigation features of Nokia Maps.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 15:14:24 UTC

Navteq LBS Challenge: 2009 the year of location aware social networking

The Navteq LBA Challenge is now in its sixth year. I was a judge for the first two years of the European section of the awards, and have seen the improvement in quality of the applications over the years. This year the focus really has changed to location aware applications, in particular location aware social networking systems.

Click here for our interview with Navteq VP of Partner and Developer Programmes Marc Nadell introduces how you can participate and describes the background of the series. We then show edited highlights of the award ceremony followed by a short interview with Oliver the developer of the winning application Skobbler.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 14:48:23 UTC

MWC 2009: iMate introduce 2 new Smartphones running WM6.x

iMate have been around for a long time now, originally sourcing devices from HTC, but over the last few years they have manufactured their own smartphones.

MWC 2009 sees the launch of two new devices at opposing ends of the spectrum. The first is a rugged PDA running Windows Mobile 6.1, this smartphone comes with a lifetime guarantee. iMate are obviously confident of the reliability and toughness of the device. The second is a much smaller smartphone which is the size of a credit card and can fit in the change pocket of your jeans.

Click here for our video introduced by iMate CEO Jim Morrison and showing the rugged PDA being demonstrated on the iMate stand.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 14:26:24 UTC

Our first look at a working Garmin-Asus Nuviphone

Last year at Mobile World Congress we had our first glimpse of the Garmin Nuviphone. Now a year later, after much speculation and rumour, we now have an alliance between Garmin and Asus with 2 Nuviphones being announced.

The Garmin-Asus G60 Nuviphone is the original device we saw last year. The software is nearing completion and this will be available summer 2009. This device is based on the Linux operating system.

The second device on display was the Garmin-Asus M20 is a Windows Mobile based smartphone. This was obviously less developed and was locked away in display cases to prevent us playing...

With the recent announcement of Garmin joining the Android Alliance one can only assume that we will see at least one other version of the Nuviphone software for Android devices.

We interview Garmin's Clive Taylor about the Garmin-Asus venture and he demos the Nuviphone G60.

Click here for our Garmin-Asus interview and product demo.

Article by Mike Barrett on Wednesday, February 25 @ 14:08:38 UTC

MWC Day 1 round-up- Garmin-Asus Nuviphone- Rugged iMate- Acer launch 8 smartphones

Day one is over. I dont have my computer with me so it is difficult to update the blog here.

Contary to expectations the show is very well attended, with the usual difficulties of moving around and seeing people. This is of course a good sign, with industry commentators suggesting that the mobile market will ride out the current financial difficulties and in fact the market will increase rather than decline.

Lots of exciting things are on view and there is lots of speculation about devices, companies and applications. Top of the list for discussion is Android, lots of people are talking about it, but there is very little actual presence on the show floor.

Going round the navigation companies, it would appear that almost everyone has a Turn by Turn application that works on the iPhone, and they are all just waiting for the day that Apple relaxes its rules. Some of the cynical comments made are that Turn by Turn will not be allowed until the next incarnation of the iPhone as a hook to get us early adopters to upgrade from the 3G. Interestingly Apple do not have a stand here, but most of the 3rd party accessory providers are all profiling Apple products.

Yesterday I saw the new Garmin-Asus Nuvi phones. The G60 and the M20 devices. The G60 is the Nuviphone that we saw last year at CES Jan 2008, the M20 was just announced last week. The Garmin-Asus project is described as a strategic alliance with no hint of anything more involved. It certainly makes a lot of sense for Garmin to partner with a company with experience in this market space. I actually got to play with a G60 and was most impressed both with the functionality, style, and probably most importantly the user interface. The system is certainly very sleek, as you will see when I publish the video of an device demo later in the week. Interestingly Garmin have announced 2 phones the G60 running on Linux, and the M20 running on Windows Mobile, but future Nuviphones will run on the Android operating system. This will leave the company supporting 3 different infrastructures.

My next meeting was with Jim Morrison CEO of iMate who announced 2 new phones and let me glimpse a new "virtual pc". The first phone was the 810F a rugged PDA running Windows Mobile 6.1. iMate are so confident this phone is indestructable that they are offering a lifetime guarantee with it. I have a video of the demo on the iMate stand where the phone is seriously abused. The 810F will be available at the end of March for $699 SIM Free. The next phone is codenamed Centurion and is the size of a credit card, it is so small that it actually fits into the coin pocket in your jeans, running Windows Mobile 6.5 it will be available for $550 late summer. Both of those phones were great, but the star of the iMate stand was a "Virtual PC" this is basically a combination of PDA codenamed Legionare and a dock codenamed Warrior that combine to provide a netbook sized device. The dock has the formfactor of a netbook, but with space for the PDA to be inserted. The dock contains a full QWERTY keyboard and screen, with a built in battery.

Last night saw Acer launch a range of no less than 8 Smartphones. This is mainly due to the acquition of the Taiwanese Smartphone manufacturer E-Ten, which has allowed Acer to now have a full range of computing devices from Desktops thru Laptops and Netbooks and into the Mobile sector. Due to the amount of media interest in the event it was almost impossible to get hold of a device to look at so I will be visiting Acer later in the week.

Finally the last event of the day was a product showcase event - Mobile Focus. This is literally a large hall full of trestle table and a select group of companies pitching to the press. It reminds me very much of the early PocketGPSWorld.com meets. There was quite a lot of interesting things there from a diamond studded Gold BT Handsfree Headset worth $50,000 to Networks in Motion, Blackberry and Intel. The most interesting product there were some new MID Mobile Internet Devices from a range of manufacturers implementing solutions using the Intel Atom processor.

More detailed reports will follw at the end of the week.

Article by Mike Barrett on Tuesday, February 17 @ 10:49:42 UTC

Posted by bedbug on Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:11 pm Reply with quote

Hi Mike,

Most grateful to you for giving us the 'skinny'.

Would you be a star and collate a list of the vendors showing/claiming to have an iPhone turn-by-turn solution?

It would give those of us that are 'rabid' for a solution a list of targets to keep a close eye on.

Thanks again, enjoy the weather, and don't down too many Sangrias! Thumbs Up

iPhone 4/4S (iOS 5.1.1); TomTom Western Europe (1.10)/USA & Canada (1.10); CoPilot for iPhone (8), UK mapping, Mac OS 10.8/XP Pro/Win7; Tongue often firmly in cheek!

Posted by Darren on Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:19 pm Reply with quote

I can help with that, two I know of are ALK CoPilot and Sygic's McGuider.

IIRC Navigon might also be one of those with a working demo. TomTom although rumoured to have a working app have not to my knowledge ever demonstrated it.

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by MikeB on Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:41 pm Reply with quote

The problem with the iPhone apps is that people tell me or show me and then say you can't tell anyone... It's a bit frustrating.

I can tell you that Telmap have one as it was on open display on their stand.

(posted from my iPhone)

Mike Barrett
Editor, PocketGPSWorld.com

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