The world’s largest Information and Communications Technology exhibition, CeBIT, was held between the fourth and the sixth of May in Sydney. CeBIT is organized in four other locations worldwide; Hannover, New York, Shanghai and Istanbul. For professionals in the ICT field, this event offers an unparalleled opportunity to keep up-to-date. Our stomachs fluttering with anticipation, we set off to sample what innovations lie in store for mobile phones.
The scale of the show was impressive. Organized in three halls the size of airplane hangars, CeBIT showcased technology ranging from software solutions to broadband cables. Although the arrangers hailed this year’s event as the largest ever in Sydney, there was some cause for disappointment for us mobile phone aficionados. The largest manufacturers, including Nokia, Motorola, Siemens and Sony Ericsson, were conspicuously and inexplicably absent. On the other hand, we were able to find a couple of genuinely tantalizing new phones to report on. Also, we found some less known brands exhibiting interesting phones so far overlooked in Australia.
The first booth we visited was organized by Sagem. This French high-technology group markets a range of affordable mobile phones. Admittedly, several of the Sagem phones seem to emulate familiar designs from other manufacturers. On the other hand, there were a couple of phones sure to arouse interest when launched in Australia. The myC-3b, for example, is a small stylish clamshell phone that immediately caught our attention. The myX series features phones such as myX-2, which is a basic colour phone, and the myX-7, which features a camera and Java applications. Other phones of the series are predictably named myX-1 to myX-6, although for some reason there isn’t a myX-4. The chief difficulty for Sagem will be penetrating the Australian mobile phone market, which already contains strong incumbent players.
Next we steered our steps towards another less well known phone manufacturer. Hyundai markets mobile phones under the name of Pantech, as well as producing phone parts for other manufacturers.
In recent years phone components have become more and more standardized, and many mobile phone companies have opted to outsource part of their design or production. Indeed, many phone manufacturers buy entirely finished phones from ODMs (original design manufacturers) and merely stick their label on the case.
At an increasing pace, however, the ODMs are launching phones under their own brand, instead of relying on the branding and distribution network of major incumbents. The smaller players have the advantages of flexibility and fresh perspectives, which brings us to the case of Hyundai/Pantech. A major player in South Korea, this company exhibited a number of attractive GSM and CDMA phones, including quite a few with bold design solutions. The GA-400B is a banana-shaped GSM/GPRS phone with the screen placed below the keypad, to name but one example. The G900 is another slick GSM phone, which sports dual 128*160 pixel screens with 260k colours. Pantech’s CDMA phones are mostly tri-mode CDMA 800/1900/AMPS. The TX-111C, 115C and 120C are trendy clamshell CDMA phones with internal and external screens. The TX-150S and 170S feature a sliding design and camera with flash.
The best was yet to come. In one corner of the booth were displayed prototypes for upcoming phones, some of which boasted truly innovative designs. With working names such as Fashion Phone, Game Phone, Horizontal Type Slide Phone and Compact Slide Phone, these mobiles give credence to the notion that new players may inject a marketplace with new ideas.