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The tech from MWC 2011 – did it ever take off?

Posted by Darren Willsher on 21st February 2012

Everyone knows that MWC is the place to be for anyone involved in the mobile industry and generally speaking it gives a pretty good insight into what the next big things in mobile be.

Last year BBC Click took a look at the technologies set to take 2011 by storm – but what happened to the future gazing technologies talked up at least year’s show?

Dual-core phone processors 

2011 was expected to be the year of dual-core, allowing mobiles to do more and do it quicker. TechRadar had a good roundup in May of 2011 of the best dual-core products coming onto the market, so suffice to say this is one area that really did take off. However, as is often the way in the electronics industry, change happens quickly and 2012 is now set to be the year of the quad-core processor. There are already a few products on the market, but expect more announcements on quad-core phones at this year’s MWC.

3D Mobile 

Last year BBC Click also looked at the new 3D mobile from LG as well as some rather nifty 3D processing from EML Wildfire client Movidius. But did 3D ever take off or was it just a bit of a novelty?  LG’s handset got mixed reviews but this year they’re expected to launch the 3D 2, so there’s obviously still faith in the concept.

Several other models are already on the market but they are proving to be much bigger in Asia than the US and Europe, for now at least. This year we’re expecting to see some much improved technology with higher resolutions and at a much lower cost. Big organisations such as Toshiba are now using EML Wildfire client Movidius’ chips in their snazzy new 3D phone camera modules, so 2012 could well be the year 3D finally breaks through from novelty to a ‘must have’ feature that consumers really want.


Near field communications (NFC) was one of the big topics at MWC 2011 with experts predicting that the technology would be in half of the smart phones on the market by the end of that year. Clearly the experts didn’t get that quite right, but with rumours of NFC in the next iPhone and the technology being embedded into more credit and debit cards, MWC 2012 could see NFC again feature high on the agenda. LG has already let some details slip on its latest device, the Miracle, which looks like it features NFC.

Small cells get smaller

Small cells were a big theme of MWC 2011. For the uninitiated, small cells are essentially mini versions of the big mobile base stations that exist today. Unlike their bigger counterparts, small cells are much easier and cheaper to deploy and allow you to put coverage and capacity exactly where it’s needed. Last year BBC Click was on the stand of EML Wildfire client Picochip (now Mindspeed), looking at a small cells concept that could fit onto a USB key.

The issues of capacity haven’t gone away in the last year to the extent that the press is getting bored of the topic. So once again small cells are likely to be a big talking point at the show, and while the USB femtocell hasn’t quite made it onto the market yet, this year it’ll be all about combining 3G and 4G into the same device.

Smart phones, smart homes

Last year Click showed off a demo that allowed you to control almost everything in your home by using your smartphone… from turning on the lights, to adjusting the heating and turning on the hot water. While this hasn’t quite made it into our homes yet, our friends in the US might not be as far off as you think. Delmarva Power announced only a few days ago that it is partnering with carriers to enable consumers to not only monitor energy usage, but adjust appliances from afar. In a move that will upset teenagers everywhere, Ann Shaub, director of consumer product marketing for Verizon told Delaware online that she used one for her son’s Xbox to make sure he was not using it after 7 p.m. If it was, she could turn it off remotely.

So what about 2012? As this has shown, it’s hard to guess accurately and even the experts get it wrong. Our advice is to get out to Barcelona, take a wander around the halls and decide for yourself…

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.