BARCELONA, Spain Chip vendors, software suppliers and handset manufacturers are racing at this year's Mobile World Congress to bring the full-blown Internet to the consumer's pocket.
And the 800-pound gorilla at Mobile World this year, Google, with its Android platform, is promising to bring "desktop" Web experiences to the mobile world.
ARM, a partner in the Android movement, is predicting: "Within a year, people will be doing YouTube and Facebook on their handsets," according to Rob Coombs, director of mobile solutions at ARM.
Describing ARM11 as "a tipping point," Coombs said the ARM11 core has already "opened the door" to people's ability to read e-mail on their cell phones. With the ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 2008 heralds an even bigger leap in performance in handset devices, he said, allowing a phone to "boot CNN in seconds," for example.
While Intel insists that the company's X86 is a must to allow the full Internet experience on Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), ARM argues that error-free browsing is a software issue, not hardware. In ARMís mind, "browsing on ARM equals browsing on Intel."
Opera Software (Oslo, Norway) is demonstrating at the Congress its new Opera Mobile 9.5 a full native browser. Many experts believe it could provide a browsing experience to rival, or surpass, that of Apple's iPhone.
Unlike the company's Opera Mini, which uses a remote server to pre-process Web pages before sending them to a phone in order to put the Internet on any device, Opera Mobile 9.5 makes a point of bringing an "iPhone experience to any feature phones and/or smart phones," noted a company spokesperson. This will allow users to interact with content exactly as they do on their PC, she added.
Opera Mobile 9.5's enhanced browsing features including zooming and panning that make it easier to navigate, loading pages quicker or saving pages for later off-line viewing. The new software, however, is still a pre-alpha version, according to the company. Its beta version is expected for launch this spring.
Opera, which is not a Google Android platform partner, is making Opera Mobile 9.5 on all major platforms including Symbian, Windows Mobile and Linux, as both a standalone browser and as an SDK.