The lights have come on -- it's time to go home. Mobile industry trade show Mobile World Congress is winding down, with new phones and tablets and software dominating the headlines. But what does this year's show tell us about what to expect at MWC 2014?
The standout trend of this year's show that has the potential to be fully realized next year is the arrival of new operating systems, to challenge iOS and especially Android. Mobile manufacturers and carriers have got behind Firefox OS and Tizen as a way to stop Android siphoning your app and downloads cash to Google, with Ubuntu Touch also in the mix.
All three promise new phones this year. Firefox is furthest along, appearing on the Alcatel One Touch Fire and ZTE Open among others. By this time next year all three new operating systems should be ready for prime time, so I'm expecting a range of new phones at MWC 2014 endowed with Firefox OS, Tizen, and -- fingers crossed -- Ubuntu Touch, too.
On a related note, Firefox OS and Tizen are aimed at low-end, wallet-friendly devices. As high-end phones head for market saturation and feature phones becoming smarter, there's a lot happening at the budget end. I'm expecting that to continue with more cheap devices -- and I'd be pleased if that has a ripple effect, lowering the prices of high-end phones, a process already started by the Google Nexus 4.
High-end phones will continue to get more powerful, too. The new Nvidia Tegra 4 chip will be in hardware by this time next year, so there'll be Tegra-powered behemoths chomping through the show next year.
And we'll see more phones that work as hubs for your life, like the incredibly powerful LG phone that streams 4K video to a TV.
Finally, one thing we won't see is a flagship announcement from any of the major players. Microsoft, Apple, and BlackBerry all snubbed this year's show in favor of standalone launches, while Samsung limited its involvement, also holding back its biggest announcement -- the Samsung Galaxy S4 -- until a later date.
At first glance that might seem like a bad thing, but I'm optimistic: without a heavy-hitting flagship sucking up the attention, we were able to explore other aspects of the show. It's a great opportunity to other manufacturers to step up and steal the glory with something exciting, like Nokia did last year with the PureView 808 -- or come up with something divertingly wacky, like the crazier kit we saw at this year's show.
Whatever we see at MWC 2014, you'll see it too, right here at CNET. In the meantime, stick with us for more news, reviews, and videos than you can shake a stick at. Right, we've got a plane to catch!