CeBIT: Mobile to Drive Tech's Future
By Niall McKay, Wed Mar 12 17:29:00 GMT 2003

TheFeature’s coverage of CeBIT week starts today. What’s big this year?

The ability to send and receive photographs, music, and corporate data while on the move – even while munching on a Big Mac at McDonald’s – is emerging as a main theme of CeBit, the world’s largest electronics trade show. Over half a million people are expected to browse the products of the 6000 exhibitors in Hannover, Germany this week.

TheFeature’s editorial staff will for the next week bring you breaking news and stories from CeBIT on 3G-network infrastructure products, mobile office software, and mobile content offering as well as reviews of the hottest products to debut at the show. Be sure to check out TheFeature’s new Scream Event mobile service to get the latest breaking news sent right to your mobile.

Subdued Keynote

During what was reported to be an uncharacteristically subdued keynote speech for a technology trade show, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder joined Nokia chairman and CEO Jorma Ollila to officially launch CeBIT on Tuesday evening, saying that 2003 could be another difficult year for the industry.

Despite this, Ollila said that mobility is the next global megatrend and will influence the IT, media and the consumer electronics business sectors. It is already expanding into new areas such as entertainment, media and the enterprise, he said.

Phone Home

On Tuesday, paving the way for the next generation networks in Europe and the US, Nokia and Siemens launched a number of new handsets. The Nokia 6220 is the company’s first phone for EDGE (enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) networks in Europe, and it will provide download speeds of up to 118.4kbps, a digital camera, a color screen and Java and MMS support. The company also launched the 810 car phone and the 3300 music phone, which features an MP3 player, FM radio and digital recorder.

Meanwhile, Siemens demonstrated its SL55 and M55 mobile phones, which are tri-band GSM/GPRS world phones that also support digital camera attachments.

Ear Phone

Samsung is set to release an interesting Bluetooth earpiece that contains both a transmitter and microphone and utilizes the user’s head as a speaker and microphone.

Wi-Fi is making the transition from geek to chic and going mainstream as companies such as Philips announced their intention to include the technology in future consumer electronics products. Meanwhile, Intel launched its Centrino mobile processor chipset, which features built-in Wi-Fi capability, hoping to make 802.11 technologies standard in a wide range of new devices. Following in the footsteps of its Japanese subsidiary, McDonald’s announced that it will begin the roll out of Wi-Fi services in 300 restaurants in New York, Chicago and California by the end of the year with Intel’s support, joining several other enterprises like Borders book stores and Hilton hotels in adding the networks to their locations.

Are Things Looking Up?

Financially, the news around the show was mixed. Nokia warned that first quarter earnings would be weaker than expected due to lack of demand for networking equipment, while Patricia Russo, Lucent's chairman and CEO, said that the worst may be over for the telecom industry.

Still, despite the global economic slump and the ensuing threat of war, the handset market actually grew in the US by over 10 percent last year, according to the market research firm IDC and global cell phone sales increased by over 6 percent according to another research firm, Gartner Dataquest. Analysts are predicting that (war and recession permitting) sales will stay up in 2003. Wouldn’t that be nice?