Times are tougher than at any other period in recent history, and this year's Mobile World Congress was somewhat more subdued than previous years. Nonetheless around 47,000 exhibitors, visitors and media flocked to Barcelona to see what new devices, technologies, services and applications the mobile industry has to offer.
After a hectic few days covering all the latest developments from the show, it is time to look back and reflect on the highs and lows, what made us glad and what made us sad.
The Best ...
I-mate gets my top spot for two reasons: firstly they have unveiled three truly innovative new mobile devices; and secondly the company's chief executive, the aptly named Jim Morrison, is a refreshingly open and honest person to chat to. He must be a PR's worst nightmare.
Just before the show I-mate unveiled the 810-F, a ruggedised smartphone that gets its name from the fact that it meets the US military's MIL-STD-810F specifications, which means it is resistant to dust, humidity, shock and vibration, extreme temperatures and can even be fully immersed in water.
During the show, I-mate unveiled a new dinky little smartphone, codenamed Centurion, which is not much bigger than a credit card but will run Windows Mobile 6.5 and sports a full Qwerty keyboard that you can somehow actually type on. It is due out around the middle of 2009 and should cost around $550 (£386).
I-mate was also showing a pair of new linked products currently being developed, dubbed Legionnaire and Warrior (also code names).
The first is a good looking, but fairly standard touch-screen smartphone, also set to run on Windows Mobile 6.5. When it gets interesting is when it is partnered with Warrior, which is essentially a notebook that has had its innards replaced with batteries.
Legionnaire docks below the Warrior's keyboard, and the combination basically creates a notebook powered by the phone, but with a full-sized keyboard and screen. The phone's touch-screen becomes the touchpad and users will have the option of either running Windows Mobile on the larger display or creating a remote desktop to their PC or Mac at home or in the office.
As if the prospect of no longer shifting between multiple devices wasn't appealing enough, I-mate has used the space that would be taken up by the laptop's circuitry to pack in extra batteries. Morrison reckons it will provide around 58 hours of continuous use and will charge the phone at the same time.
Legionnaire and Warrior are due out in the third quarter of 2009 and expected to cost around $500 (£351) and $199 (£140) respectively.
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