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2006 Wrap Up. 2007 Predictions. (Part 4)

29th December 2006

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 Apple logo 2007's wildcard, Apple may or may not release its long-awaited phone in 2007.. although the anticipated iPhone trademark is owned by someone else.

However, Apple's entry into this market has been rumoured for two years now, and although Apple might well have made a splash back in 2005, any release in 2007 will be up against tough competition and may well be irrelevant.

We feel that Apple will only launch into this market if it knows that it can succeed. 2005's iTunes-compatible Motorola ROKR was a disaster, and Apple knows that it must come up with something distinctive if it tries for a slice of the mobile market.

Our bet is that Apple will squash any hopes for an entry into this market and the "iPhone" rumours will go away. But we're not betting our shirts on it.

Other manufacturers

VK Mobile was a company that we tipped would do well in 2006.. it collapsed under the weight of its debts in the summer. Emblaze Mobile is another company that didn't really get very far in 2006, despite our predictions. Vitelcom/Grundig Mobile failed to make any inroads. NEC quitely slipped off the rader completely, but may well return in partnership with Panasonic.  HP made zero impact in the smartphone market, and the PDA market has collapsed. Similar issues face other PDA manufacturers who tried to move into smartphones. Palm is an exception to the rule and may well carve a niche in direct competition to RIM and its BlackBerry range.

So.. what's next?

Last year we predicted that hard disks would fail to make an impact and that QVGA (240x320 pixel) resolution displays would become the standard for everything except low end devices. We feel that we were correct in that prediction, and this will hold true for 2007 with most devices stuck at 240x320 pixels with no real upgrade path.

We said that four megapixels would be the standard for camera resolution, but in fact most high end phones only go up to three megapixels, so that didn't come to pass. Consumers are getting wise to the megapixel count being meaningless without good quality optics, so expect to see more work on lenses and optical zoom mechanisms.

2007 will be a year in which over-the-air digital TV will come to mobiles in one of a number of different formats, including DAB TV and DVB-H. Flat rate 3G will also be a hot topic after the launch of 3's X-Series tariff.. our bet is that mobile networks will resist this for as long as possible, and then all fall into line at roughly the same time. Flat rate 3G will also open the doors to Skype over 3G and other low cost VOIP solutions.

GPS will find its way into more phones, although this will still be a fledgling market. Electronic Paper displays will find their way into more phones. Power consumption will become more of an issue as features are added, so expect to see handsets designed for longevity rather than gadgets. Colour variety has been important in 2006 and will be more so in 2007.

And finally..

That's it from Mobile Gazette in 2006. We'd like to wish all our readers and subscribers a Happy New Year, and if you want to read more from us, then please subscribe to our newsletter.

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