NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The 2011 Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this week offered a few new treats to the already brimming basket of wireless devices introduced at the last industry event, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tablets once again took center stage. The "geyser of Android tablet launches" caused RBC analyst Mike Abramsky to craft the acronym "NAAT!" for "not another Android tablet" in a research note Wednesday. There were also smartphones aplenty, some even sporting Facebook buttons. The MWC was a major win for Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system, as new partners and new Android devices played a big role in the week's unfolding drama. And of course, who could miss the sudden shift in world powers on the eve of the MWC as Nokia ( NOK) and Microsoft's ( MSFT) massive strategic partnership suddenly realigns the playing field? Here is a look at some new features and devices from Sony ( SNE) Ericsson ( ERIC), ZTE, HTC, Microsoft and Facebook.
ZTE Skate The China phone giant ZTE became possibly one of the more threatening players to recently jump on the Android bandwagon. ZTE has been a big supplier of phones in areas outside the U.S. and Europe, but with the adoption of Android, those two territories will come into play. That's not good news for rivals like Nokia, Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Samsung. ZTE has already risen to fifth place among phone makers last quarter, according to IDC. The Skate is 3G with WiFi and it has a 4.3-inch touchscreen and a 5-megapixel camera. It is powered by a 800-gigahertz processor with Qualcomm's ( QCOM) Adreno 200 graphics chip. By the looks of it, the Skate would easily compete with some of the top-tier U.S. phones of 2010, like the HTC EVO or Motorola ( MMI) Droid X. The price and U.S. availability has not been announced.
HTC Flyer HTC takes wing in tablets! The first tablet device from the Taiwan smartphone specialist is called the Flyer. With a 7-inch screen, the Flyer is significantly smaller than category leader Apple ( AAPL) iPad, which has a 9.7-inch display screen. The Flyer has two cameras, a 1.3 megapixel front facer and a 5 megapixel rear camera. The Flyer is expected to run on the Android 2.4 Gingerbread operating system -- oddly not on the Honeycomb software developed by Android for tablets. The processor is a 1.5 gigahertz Snapdragon from Qualcomm and the Flyer will have 1 gigabyte of memory. HTC expects to launch the Flyer sometime in the second quarter. Strong comparisons will be made to the Motorola Xoom tablet due out this quarter, which runs on Honeycomb.
Facebook Phones All the speculation about a social networking "Facebook phone" last fall turned out to be true. U.K. phone maker INQ Mobile and HTC unveiled Android phones designed with Facebook buttons for so-called one-touch access to Facebook chat, messages and wall. INQ introduced two Facebook phones, the Cloud Touch and Cloud Q. The phones also feature the popular SwiftKey text prediction keyboard called TouchType. HTC also introduced two Facebook phones, the Cha Cha and the Salsa. Both phone feature a blue Facebook button below the screen where most "home" keys would be located. Social networking is huge -- no question -- and these dedicated Facebook features will certainly have an appeal to audiences that are jazzed about mobile Facebook. HTC and INQ certainly hope that it's more than a fad.
Nokia's Microsoft Windows Phone 7Nokia shares nosedived after the company said it was realigning its smartphone business around Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Not only did it exclude Google's more popular Android option, but it threatened to plunge Nokia into a two-year transition with painful market share and profit declines. But apparently Nokia and Microsoft have plans to avoid falling into that abyss. "Nokia and Microsoft are 'officially' internally targeting the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 device in time for Christmas this year," according to a Morgan Stanley report that is based on discussions in Barcelona this week. And while the holidays are a crucial timeframe for Nokia, the plans do not include a phone for the U.S. market where Apple and Androids continue to divide and conquer. Having made one of the biggest mobile announcements of the year last week with the Nokia plan, Microsoft spent a little time in Barcelona talking up the Xbox game features coming to Windows Phone 7. Hoping to ride some of the success of the Xbox Kinect, Microsoft demonstrated how the Windows phone could be used to interact with Xbox games through Kinect. And speaking of games ...
Sony Xperia Play Yes, the big unveiling. Sony Ericsson introduced its PlayStation phone, which is called Xperia Play. The phone slides open horizontally to reveal the familiar PlayStation game controls. The phone itself runs on Android's Gingerbread software and is powered by a 1-gigahertz Snapdragon processor. The Xperia Play is a 3G CDMA phone expected to be coming to Verizon ( VZ). This could be a challenge. Sony's Xperia phones have had a fitful time cracking the U.S. market. And the Play would be the first Sony Ericsson device to gain approval at Verizon ever since the two wireless equipment companies entered a joint phone venture nearly 10 years ago. Another hurdle: Game phones have had a rocky history; just ask anyone who remembers the Nokia N-Gage. A PlayStation phone stands as good a chance of any to become a success game phone, but like social networking, it will be difficult to build a broad audience around one key feature. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York. >To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: email@example.com. To follow Scott on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/MoritzDispatch. >To send a tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.