Paris: The most established names in telecoms, Internet and media will come together next week in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, one of the world’s biggest events for the mobile phone industry.
This year, like others previously, debate is likely to focus on how to encourage users in developed countries to use their phones for more than simply making calls.
With competition and regulatory action lowering call costs in many countries, operators are increasingly eager for customers to use their mobile phones for Internet services, games, music downloading or watching television.
As a result, the congress will bring together content providers such as music channel MTV and news producer the BBC, Internet leaders such as Google and Facebook, as well network operators including Vodaphone and China Mobile.
Handset manufacturers such as world leader Nokia and competitors Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson will also been keen to showcase their latest models.
There are already rumours about what will be announced in Barcelona, where the event runs from Monday to Thursday.
The online edition of magazine MarketingWeek has reported that Google is to team up with US technology giant Dell to launch a phone, while the PaidContent site suggests social networking group Facebook is to conclude a deal with Nokia.
The increasing use of mobile phones in the emerging and developing world is also attracting interest from handset manufacturers, Internet companies and operators.
With mobile phone markets nearly saturated in the developed world, the industry’s biggest players are turning their attention to the fertile ground of emerging countries.
Making affordable phones and targeting consumers with smaller budgets were clearly priorities at the Barcelona event in 2007.
Entertainment and content providers are also cottoning on to the idea that mobile phones are the main technological device owned by people in poor countries, rather than computers.
“A lot of Internet players and media companies see in the mobile phone a way of accessing emerging markets where there are only a few computers and where the population has not heard of Facebook or Google,” said analyst Vincent Poulbere from consultancy Ovum.