For today’s post, instead of recapping the big mobile trends that the industry insiders are talking-up here at CES-which I’ll save for tomorrow-I thought I’d share a collection of interesting mobile news bites, product releases, and factoids.
Okay, maybe just one trend for now: Thanks to the visionaries up in Cupertino, 2008 will be the year of "touch" when it comes to handsets. Already competing with the iPhone’s revolutionary interface are slick models from a number of major manufacturers, including the P250 from Samsung and the KE850 from LG. Although what makes these models stand out is that you can buy them at Armani and Prada retail stores. Wait, what?
Yep, the major fashion labels get the fact that the phone makes a personal statement about you, just like your shoes or your bag. So what’s jumped out at me hardware-wise here at CES is how touch-screen handset makers are inking these kinds of "cache co-branding" deals to move their devices. In addition to the above two models, I’ve seen the "Serenata"-a luxury handset developed between home theatre designer Bang & Olufsen and Samsung-as well as the Beyonce Knowles-branded "B’Phone." Frankly I’m a little taken aback at that last one, but I don’t know why; we ARE marketers, after all.
What next? Hmm, fine, I’ll give you one more trend here. In fact, I may be stealing my own thunder, because it might just be the biggest one in mobile right now-and that’s the concept of "open." Already going gangbusters in the social media space, of course, this notion of everything working hand-in-hand is starting to find its way into the mobile world. Google, for all intents and purposes, got the ball rolling late last year with the announcement of its open-platform "Android" mobile operating system; but Yahoo is now running with that ball.
Yahoo’s mobile chief Marco Boerries announced yesterday here at CES that Yahoo’s mobile Internet services (a widget-styled system) will be built to run on all the big phone platforms-including Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, and Nokia-backed Symbian software. It marks an important move by Yahoo to compete with rivals by leveraging a strategy of "inclusion:" By offering Internet services that work on the largest number of the most popular handsets, Yahoo hopes to maximally extend its reach into mobile-which, of course, is the next frontier for all the big portal plays.
And speaking of reach, WiMAX is also abuzz this year on the CES floor. (Hang on, is that another trend? This isn’t turning out to be much of a "peek," is it)? Anyway, Sprint announced that it was pushing ahead with its Xohm-branded WiMAX network-which is a wireless alternative to providing hardwired internet service over broad areas-and Ericsson is happy about its progress in embedding its WiMAX modules in consumer electronics like notebook computers, digital cameras, and gaming devices. This makes all of the "toys" we carry around with us instantly connected, allowing us to download software, share information, and even social network.
It’s all pretty heady stuff when you think about it. Our everyday "life tools" are becoming more sophisticated than the computers at NASA 30 years ago. But I guess that’s also what CES is about. You can’t be in Vegas without the razzle-dazzle.