TECH TALK: 3GSM World Congress 2006: The Event

The 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona was another event (after DEMO 2006) that I would have liked to attend but could not. I have aggregated reports and comments from multiple sources to give an overview of what went on there.

962 companies and over 50,000 visitors. That captures the scale of the worlds premier mobility-related event. Mobile phones having increasingly become the centerpiece of our digital and connected lives, and the 3GSM event is a reflection of that. There are over two billion mobile phone users worldwide. Last year, over 800 million mobiles were sold.

ZDNet captured the essence of the 3GSM announcements:

Convergence has been one of the hottest buzzwords in the mobile industry for several years. This week, the 3GSM World Congress saw compelling evidence that once-rival technologies can work together, and that the world is moving fast towards an all-IP environment.

CSR is making good progress towards merging Bluetooth and Wi-Fi onto a single chip, but it’s Nokia’s decision to add Wi-Fi to its 6136 phone is a stronger indication that the landscape is changing.

Most exciting of all is the multi-operator alliance for instant messaging services. IM will force the industry to embrace convergence, and will also make it face up to issues such as open standards.

The Wall Street Journal had a 3GSM News Tracker. Among the items that caught my attention:

Beijing Buzz: Participants at 3GSM were buzzing with the likelihood that China will issue third-generation mobile licenses as soon as the first half of this year. Equipment vendors such as Siemens, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia are eagerly awaiting the development, which is expected to unleash up to $12 billion in spending on new equipment. Siemens and Nokia executives at 3GSM told Reuters they expect a decision by June. Many executives have cited the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a key time constraint, since China would like to have cutting-edge mobile systems in place for the global event it hopes will showcase its arrival onto the world stage.

Game-Device Duet: Opera Software will supply Internet browsers for Nintendo’s popular dual-screen handheld game device, the Norwegian company’s chief executive said. “This is the first time we have provided a browser for a game device,” Opera co-founder and Chief Executive Jon S. Von Tetzchner told the Associated Press. Nintendo has sold more than 13 million of its Nintendo DS devices, combine dual screens, touch screen, voice recognition and wireless communications capabilities. Mr. Von Tetzchner said users will now also be able to surf the Internet with both of the device’s screens by using the Opera browser inserted on a card into the machine’s Wi-Fi slot.

Handset Venture: Nokia and Sanyo Electric said they plan to set up a joint venture to develop and manufacture advanced mobile phones using the CDMA standard. At 3GSM, Nokia Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson said his company will take a minority stake in the venture, which will merge the companies’ CDMA units. The venture will control about 20% of the world’s CDMA market, rivaling current leader Samsung Electronics of South Korea, the companies said. Mr. Simonson said the new partners complement each other: Nokia has no meaningful presence in the Japanese market, but has a good position in Brazil and India, whereas Sanyo is very strong in Japan and North America.

Sub-$25 Target: Texas Instruments says it will soon start supplying mobile-phone producers with a single chip that powers an entire entry-level handset, saying those GSM handsets might sell as low as $20. “We are targeting the $25 and low-$20 price range” for handsets that contain the chip, TI’s chief of wireless chips, Gilles Delfassy, told Reuters. “We will ship millions in ’06, hopefully tens of millions,” he said.

New From Nokia: Nokia unveiled two new mobile-phone models, the 6131 and the 6070. The 6131, which has a folding design, features a camera, Bluetooth wireless technology, email support attachments, a memory-card slot and audio messaging. The 6131 is expected to sell for about $330. The 6070, which is expected to cost about $115, features a camera, radio, audio messaging and email. Both handsets are expected to start shipping in the second quarter.

Tomorrow: Mobile IM, VoIP and IMS

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.