THE Mobile World Congress gets underway in Barcelona today, but already announcements about new devices are flowing thick and fast.
Hewlett Packard, for example, has announced that its new consumer-oriented tablet computer will run Google's Android operating system – not Microsoft Windows 8 RT, a cut down version of Windows 8 written for ARM processors. HP will continue to sell a tablet with a fully-blown version of Windows 8 for the enterprise market.
RT cannot run regular Windows desktop applications, a limitation reflected in sales of Microsoft's consumer-oriented Surface tablet. Those sales have been underwhelming.
The new Android HP Slate 7 will have a 7-inch screen, making it similar in size to the Amazon Kindle Fire, and it will cost $199 in Australia. It will go on sale here in April.
HP's previous consumer oriented tablet, the HP TouchPad, was a disaster. The TouchPad, which used Palm's WebOS software, was on sale in Australia for less than a week in 2011 before being withdrawn from the local market because of poor US sales.
Speaking in Barcelona on the weekend, HP mobile devices head Alberto Torres said the Slate 7 will use a relatively "vanilla" version of Android.
The company is avoiding the interface modifications Asian manufacturers apply and the deeper changes imposed by Amazon and Barnes & Noble for their tablets.
Competitor Samsung Electronics earlier announced it would launch an 8-inch Android tablet that will compete directly with Apple's very successful iPad mini, which launched in the US last year.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 will be slightly larger than the Slate 7. It will run Android and accept pen input.
Samsung has an extensive range of tablets in the mobile device market. They include the Galaxy Tab 7, Galaxy Tab 10.2, Galaxy Note 10.1, and the vanilla Android Galaxy Nexus 10.
Mozilla, the non-profit foundation behind the Firefox Web browser, is showing off its new smartphone operating system in Barcelona.
Yesterday it said phones running Firefox OS would appear mid year, starting in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.
But the Firefox OS faces an uphill battle taking any market share from its closest rival Google's Android, which is well established as a free, configurable, open source mobile operating system.
Mozilla Foundation however has an ally in phone companies, who are interested in seeing an alternative to Apple and Google, particularly one coming from a non-profit foundation. Thirteen phone companies around the world have committed to supporting Firefox phones.
Phone makers that plan to make Firefox phones include Huawei and ZTE of China and LG of Korea. The first devices will be inexpensive touchscreen smartphones.
All the phones will run on chips supplied by San Diego-based Qualcomm, whose CEO Paul Jacobs appeared at Mozilla's press event.
Huawei too has been early to announce a new smartphone in Barcelona – the Ascend P2, which it calls "the fastest smartphone in the world".
It has a relatively small 4.7-inch, high definition screen, a powerful 1.5 Gigahertz quad-core processor and is 4G LTE capable. The company said it can achieve speeds of 150 Mbps, fast enough to download a two-hour high-definition movie in less than five minutes.