Gadget hounds the world over are enjoying the yearly deluge of new mobile device news pouring out of the Mobile World Congress this week.
Although companies like Samsung, Apple, Google and Microsoft enjoy enough power to host separate smartphone launch events, the rest of the mobile world comes to Barcelona, Spain each year to announce their newest tech. Nokia, Asus, Huawei, Sony and others have all announced new gear ahead of the MWC opening, but other non gear related news is also squeaking out.
Mobile Operators Embrace Firefox OS
Mozilla has been showing off its mobile Firefox OS previously known as Boot to Gecko, and now more mobile operators have announced they will support the budding ecosystem. China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, MegaFon, Sprint and Telefonica, among others have all agreed to help nurture the open Web standards based Firefox OS.
In the US at least, that means the two biggest carriers are so far not on board with the initiative. Even for Sprint, the third largest carrier in the United States, the announcement is merely symbolic at this point. After all, Sprint supports Windows Phone 8 devices, and we won't even see any of those until this summer.
Mozilla says the first LG and ZTE built Firefox OS devices will debut in select European and South American companies before debuting in other parts of the world.
Huawei, the third largest smartphone maker in the world debuted its Ascend P2 at MWC. It will soon build Firefox OS devices as well.
Cisco Quantum Network Debuts
Gadgets get all the attention at these kind of events, but those gadgets have to run on somebody's data network, and those companies are indeed gaining influence as their importance becomes more evident. With millions of new customers each year around the world, mobile broadband has become a cutthroat industry. As providers seek to stretch out their wireless networks to include things like the so-called 4G standard LTE capability, some European providers are calling for more standardization.
While most of the European providers indeed operate on the same GSM network standard, it is the frequencies at which they operate that cause customer confusion on things like roaming. For travelers, incompatibility issues often pop up when moving around the country, and it's something the networks themselves said they were working on at one MWC panel.
To further complicate matters, mobile networks will be increasingly called upon to make room for other kinds of connected devices like smart cars, a phenomenon sometimes called the Internet of Things. Networking vendor Cisco has announced its Quantum Network to account for the rise in smart devices, and its software and hardware is intended to help wireless companies manage and analyze all that mobile data.
Two major tracts at MWC are on mobile payments technology (NFC) and, of course, apps. While European nations are further ahead of the US in NFC adoption, there are still compatibility issues. On the apps front, there is a focus on smart cars and the non proprietary MirrorLink technology that acts as an app ecosystem for that industry.
MWC is an incredibly popular event, but as we noted at the top, the biggest mobile device companies mostly skip it. That does mean more publicity for the Huawei's and LG's of the world, however. Tell us in the comments if you were impressed with any of the new devices unveiled at MWC or if you are more excited about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 launch.