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Buzz for 3 Smartphone Makers at the Mobile World Conference

What to expect from the major brands at one of the biggest showcases for wireless tech


One of the world’s largest mobile technology conference kicks off next week in Barcelona, Spain, and leading manufacturers are gearing up for major presentations. Social media analyzer has parsed the Twitter chatter leading up to the Mobile World Conference and found that HTC, Samsung (PINK:SSNLF), LG (PINK:LGEAF), and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) were the most anticipated brands.

A strong showing at MWC can lead to a small stock bounce for mobile-device manufacturers, although the impact of their product rollouts is somewhat muted by advance leaks about the details. The principal purpose of the presentations is to attract consumers, and encourage investors, with tangible signs that the product release pipeline is in order.

  • Taiwan-based HTC will show a small collection of phones and one tablet that aim to offset reactions to the rather clunky designs the company has pushed out in the past. The HTC One X, for example, is a sleek handset loaded with goodies that include a quad-core processor—a high-capacity chipset that has become one of this year’s buzz-generating components for mobile devices. The HTC One S, meanwhile, is a trimmed-down version of the X, both in specs and price. A lower-end mobile device, the HTC One V, is rumored to be marketed more as a music player, although it will be compatible with the latest Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. Also in the spotlight: the HTC One XL, a tablet with a 10.1-inch screen, although few details about the product have leaked out. HTC has previously had trouble achieving strong tablet sales and, following reports that the company’s sales dropped 53% in January, may be withholding XL details in order to attract maximum press coverage at MWC.
  • Samsung isn’t having a press event, and the company announced last month that it wouldn’t be presenting the Galaxy S III, as many had anticipated. There will, however, be other Galaxy devices on hand for MWC, including the Galaxy Ace 2 and Galaxy Mini 2, which are product sequels rather than shiny new things. Rumors are circulating that Samsung’s real focus will be a scaled up, 10.1-inch Galaxy Note tablet. A smaller version of the tablet generated buzz at the International Consumer Electronics Show last month and starred in its own Super Bowl commercial. For the fourth quarter of 2011, Samsung posted a record profit of $4.7 billion and is entering the conference in a position of power.
  • LG is set to show off three new smartphones, collectively billed as the “L-Style” series. The Optimus L5 and Optimus L7 will both run on the Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, operating system that’s dominating higher-end devices awaiting release. The paired-down Optimus L3 will feature an older version of Android, nicknamed Gingerbread, and slimmer specs. Streamlined exterior design and a more user-friendly interface were LG’s goals with the series. LG had returned to profit in its earnings report this month, following a seven-quarter slump.

A company that isn’t attracting much attention prior to MWC is Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). The BlackBerry manufacturer isn’t presenting any new hardware, and its update for the PlayBook 2.0 tablet, originally rumored for release at the conference, has already been introduced. There’s a chance the company will present its long-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system, but it remains unclear whether that product is ready for public consumption.

The Mobile World Congress will run for four days beginning Monday, Feb. 27, and will wind down on March 1. Expect device manufacturers to have held back some information for release during the conference. As is usually the case, press feedback based on firsthand contact with the products and their performance will factor heavily in shaping consumer interest and investor confidence as the devices near release.


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