Big mobile industry players may have sat on the sidelines during CES 2013, but the same won't be true of next month's Mobile World Congress.
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CES 2013 was a fairly quiet trade show when it comes to new smartphones. Sure, a handful were announced by the likes of Huawei, Sony and ZTE, but the industry's biggest companies hardly bothered to show up. If there's one theme I heard all week long from those big companies, it was: "Just wait for Mobile World Congress."
CES covers the entire electronics industry. Everything from automotive to TVs to home audio to PCs to mobile devices and accessories for everything and anything. CES attracted some 3,000 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the organization that runs CES.
Mobile World Congress, as its name implies, focuses solely on mobile. It has evolved a bit over the years, but has grown into a competitive trade show when it comes to breaking news in the mobile world. Mobile World Congress is held each February in Barcelona, Spain, and in recent years has attracted 60,000 attendees.
Some of the key products announced at MWC in years past include the original Samsung Galaxy S and its follow up, the S II; the Nokia N96 and 808 PureView; the HTC One Series and Magic (the second-ever Android phone); among many, many others.
Motorola was the least present at CES this year among the major phone makers. (For that matter, so was Android-maker Google itself.) Not only did Motorola not have a booth, its representatives weren't taking meetings. Motorola hasn't announced any new devices since October. It is long overdue for some new smartphones.
Nokia was marginally present. It skipped a booth this year and instead parked a Nokia-blue bus out in the parking lot for meetings. It wasn't discussing new products, only its current lineup. Nokia typically saves its biggest announcements of the year for either its own show or for Mobile World Congress. Since the company hasn't announced any new smartphones since September, chances are good the company will come roaring back to life next month.
LG did not announce any new mobile phones at CES, but its representatives told me that they'd have plenty of news during Mobile World Congress. They didn't provide any hints about what devices might be revealed, but you can be sure Android gear is on deck.
HTC announced a midrange smartphone, the One SV for Cricket Wireless, in the days leading up to CES, but didn't announce anything new during the event itself. The company released very few devices in 2012 and is preparing its flagship devices for 2013. They are expected to debut at MWC.
Samsung revealed a Windows Phone handset, the ATIV Odyssey, during CES. The device had been tipped by Verizon as long ago as October, though. Samsung used CES to deliver all the details and show off the hardware for the first time. Other than that, however, it didn't debut any new Android, Bada or Tizen phones. That leaves MWC wide open for the world's largest maker of cellphones to unleash the big guns.
Sony actually did make a significant phone announcement during CES. It showed off the Xperia Z, its flagship smartphone for 2013. Knowing Sony, however, it will use MWC to announce the rest of its 2013 lineup, which will include midange and entry-level smartphones.
The bottom line? I expect each of these companies to step up and deliver at least once exciting product during Mobile World Congress come February 24.
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