Telecom Fun and Fantasy in Barcelona
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the giant, cellular-phone industry convention that began today, features all the latest in sharp and shiny smartphones -- and some gadgets that may never be sold at U.S. shopping centers.
The interesting thing about the gargantuan MWC convention is that because it's a showcase for every facet of telecom on the planet, many of the smartphones being hawked and hyped aren't of the high-priced, top-of-the-line variety. In fact, many devices on display will never make it to the U.S.
Nokia(NOK) did unveil one of two new phones earmarked for the world's largest economy. The Finnish mobile-phone maker plans to ship its Lumia 720 series (with a 4.3-inch, 720p screen and a camera with a f1.9 lens) as well as its low-cost Lumia 520 series (4-inch, 800-by 480 pixels screen) to the U.S. Both run on the latest version of Microsoft's(MSFT) Windows Phone 8 operating system.
The two Nokia models may be released in the coming weeks in some Far East markets with European and North American sales possible in the next few months. Nokia's Lumia 521 model may be offered soon at T-Mobile. The Finnish firm hasn't announced a release date or an optimum "affordable price," but has said the phone will operate on TMO's current 4G network.
For the record, Nokia also announced two new 2G/3G feature phones (they might be clever but they're not smartphones), models 105 and 301 aimed at developing markets rather that the U.S.
In addition to Nokia's introductions, other devices and technologies marketed at the confab included:
Sony(SNE) introducing its Xperia Tablet Z 10.1-inch tablet (on it's way to the U.S. very soon) and some nifty-looking new digital cameras (including the auto-focus HX300, WX300 and TX300 models)
China's ZTE announced its"Grand Memo" Android phone sporting a new Qualcomm(QCOM) 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5-inch touchscreen.
Asus displayed its FonePad (a 7-inch tablet you can also use as a cell phone) complete with an Intel(INTC) Atom processor which shouldn't be confused with its new PadFone Infinity (a smartphone running on Google(GOOG) Android software that attaches to a 5-inch Android tablet).
Fujitsu was showing its Arrows V F-04E Android (4.7-inch screen, quad-core processor, 13.1 MP camera)
Intel says it will debut a new mobile device processor by the end of this year. The new 22nm Bay Trail chip will replace the current 32nm Clover Trail processor.
Samsung also announced its home-brewed mobile operating system called Bada which the company said is being rolled into its Tizen operating system. Tizen is based on the open-source MeeGo OS that was last seen on the terrific, but ill-fated, Nokia N9 smartphone.
--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.