This week, most of the mobile world — except Apple — is getting together in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress trade show. The theme, as we’re used to by now, is smartphones — and plenty are on display, including some decent looking new ones. But for the third year in a row, no one is showing off anything that’s going to topple Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone as the smartphone to beat.
This year’s trends: Pretty much the same as last year’s. Shinier cases, better cameras, HD video, more fold-out keyboards. But most of the phones are still running the same old Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Mobile or Nokia (NOK) Symbian software platforms — that aren’t going to set anyone’s imagination on fire. And many of the phones just look… the same.
To be sure, there are plenty of decent phones on display. Most will find homes somewhere. Some will sell well. And together, they will help HTC, Nokia, Samsung, and other phone makers stay afloat in the smartphone market. And with another year past, most companies are getting closer to the iPhone.
But we haven’t seen anything iconic yet that wows us — or will set the agenda for the rest of the industry like Apple did two years ago. In other words, nothing that’s going to make the iPhone team nervous as it preps the next iPhone for an expected summer launch.