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Mobile Congress makes tongues wag over what's next in tech

Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 9:42 AM ET
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Over the weekend, my email was stuffed full of commentary about what would be happening at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which is now underway.

Not surprisingly, Nokia, Sony, Lenovo are all announcing new phones, with Samsung even set to announce a successor to its Galaxy S4, right after announcing new wristwatches. Nokia is even announcing an Android smartphone...wait, isn't Nokia being bought by Microsoft? That's how much the world is changing.

There seems to be one obvious winner already: Qualcomm, who is the leader in chips for the 4G LTE space. They already announced an updated road map for its Snapdragon mobile platform on a chip product that will likely allow it to maintain its leadership in LTE, now one of the global standards for high-speed mobile phone data.


What to expect from the Mobile World Congress
CNBC's Tom Mackenzie looks at what to expect from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, from the latest wearable technology to new product launches.

One thing to watch for: the continuing emergence of lower-cost, low-margin Chinese phone manufacturers. (including Lenovo) who are putting pressure on everyone. The market has been waiting for some other Chinese manufacturer besides Lenovo to break out and become a global brand name. Huawei is often mentioned, but so far no one other than Lenovo is standing out.

Here's something I want but not sure if I should have it: noise cancelling technology. Sony is unveiling a new phone with that feature, that works with an in-ear headset that will be sold separately. For airplanes, noise cancelling headphones are a godsend; I love mine. But running or even walking down the street with earphones, unable to hear anything around you other than your music? I've already almost died a half-dozen times, even without the noise cancelling technology.

Sony unveiled a waterproof phone that can show ultra-high definition video. Just what I need when I'm underwater..high definition video.

Elsewhere

The G-20 has done an about-face: two years ago, it was all about austerity. Over the weekend, they were essentially urging central banks to continue with their easy money policies because they want growth.

They have not explicitly abandoned the veneer of austerity, but the shift has clearly moved toward stimulus. Oh sure, better coordination of central banks was called for...which is a shout-out to the Federal Reserve (and to new Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who was in attendance), because they are the only major central bank to be tightening. The explicit statement: be "mindful" of the impact of monetary policy settings.

In other words, make sure you keep in consideration the fall-out to emerging markets when you are making your changes, Ms. Yellen.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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