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Your mobile future: From smartphones to superphones -- and beyond

Analysis: Mobile designers at CES discuss the current leap, and those to come

January 8, 2010 06:41 PM ET

Computerworld - Just when the world got familiar with the smartphone, the mobile phone community is starting to talk about the "superphone."

Google dropped the superphone title on the general public when it launched its Nexus One phone on Tuesday. Now, at CES, industry analysts and others are describing any mobile phone with 1Ghz processors, or even phones with especially sophisticated design, hardware or software, a superphone.

CES gave visitors a glimpse of hundreds of the latest devices and concept designs, but some vendors and analysts also talked about phones that could arrive in two to 10 years. They envision phones shaped and worn like bracelets or that would make use of augmented reality technology. Others could be squeezed to take simple commands or would project an image or an arrow on the ground to help a traveler make their way through a crowded airport, assisted by GPS navigation.

"We're about to see an explosion in mobile phone innovation," said Will Stofega, an IDC analyst. "The next 10 years are going to be really exciting."

Stofega said he started hearing the word "superphone" used several months ago, and whether it catches on or not, he believes it helps describe the next generation of smartphones.

Part of the reason the innovation will occur is the increasing horsepower available in chipsets, Stofega said. But users also want the newest applications, he said, noting that even though much of world experienced a major recession in 2009, phone manufacturers were introducing several new high-end smartphones that people were willing to pay for.

CES is about showcasing products that have just been made within the constraints of current chips, displays and batteries, but also about the technology community planning for the future and sharing creative concepts in software and design ideas.

Google Inc. used CES to show more reporters the Nexus One, an Android device with a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm, allowing 3D-like video images.

Also, Intel CEO Paul Otellini unveiled the GW990 from LG Electronics, to appear later in the year, that is based on Intel's latest Atom-based processor called Moorestown. He said Moorestown will bring PC functions to smartphones, and the GW990 can play back 720p high definition video on a 5-inch screen.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also announced that the HTC HD2 smartphone, which will run a customized version of Windows Mobile 6.5, uses a 1GHz Qualcomm processor. It will be available from T-Mobile USA in the spring.

Greg Sullivan, senior product manager on Microsoft's Windows Mobile team, said Microsoft will be using Moorestown chips in its devices. He said Windows Mobile 7 OS will launch by year-end, making 2010 an important year, as the world emerges from the recession and technology innovation continues unabated.



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