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2008 Wrap-Up. 2009 Predictions.

31st December 2008
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At the end of the year, it's nice to have a look at some of the significant events in the mobile phone industry during 2008.. and also to make so predictions about what might happen next year. Are we going to be right? Well, judging by last year's predictions the answer is likely to be "sometimes!".

Note: there is a video version of this article here.

Predictions for 2009.

2009 will be a tough year for mobile phone manufacturers. We can expect sales to drop and customers to look for more value rather than better gadgets, reversing the trend of recent years where sales have been on an ever-upward path.

Expect manufacturers to slim down their product ranges and perhaps abandon market segments where they cannot make a profit. Handsets are likely to compete on value-for-money rather than technical wizardry, although manufacturers will continue to show off new flagship phones during the year.

Apart from a proliferation of "value" phones, we also expect to see manufacturers taking less risks with products - they will want every launch to be a success, so hopefully we will see rather more care taken with the design and testing of new handsets next year.

The introduction of 8 megapixel camera phones in the second half of 2008 sparked off another round of megapixel wars. By the end of the year we can expect to see some 10 megapixel devices with announcements perhaps coming in February. We're still waiting for video capture rates to catch up with our expectations - in our view all decent camera phones should be able to capture 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second, perhaps this actually will be normal during 2009.

Although QVGA displays have been the norm during 2008, higher resolution screens are starting to appear on high-end phones. We expect to see VGA resolution screens appearing on a few midrange phones by the end of the year.

More and more handsets will feature GPS as costs come down, and geotagging photographs will be a standard feature. Phones will not kill off dedicated SatNav units for in-car navigation, but expect manufacturers to come up with some clever location-based services to open up new markets.

Most midrange phones now have HSDPA 3.5G support, by the end of 2009 we should see HSUPA as a standard feature on all 3G class devices. WiFi will also be much more common, by the end of 2009 we would expect most 3G phones to support WLAN connectivity.

Mobile TV has been something of a flop. Expect the roll-out of DVB-H to stall as advertiser revenues dry up, a few handsets will feature DVB-T for standard terrestrial TV signals.. but this is never going to be a mainstream feature.

Social networking sites and web browsing are increasingly important, so the overall quality of software will improve. We think that software features will start to become more important than hardware features during 2009, and the rate of hardware development will begin to slow.

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