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Pocket Power

Right now though, we're seeing some of the best mobile devices to ever hit the market. As with all Apple products, there's a massive amount of hype surrounding the iPhone, but for the most part, the device itself lives up to all the marketing and fan evangelism. When the original iPhone launched last year it really did change the face of mobile user interfaces, proving that you didn't need a mechanical keyboard, or a stylus to operate a fully featured smartphone. More recently, the iPhone 3G has addressed many of the shortcomings of the original handset, while sporting a surprisingly affordable price tag.

But by the look of it Apple isn't going to have everything its own way. The recently launched BlackBerry Bold is a superb smartphone, with a screen that's every bit as captivating as the iPhone's. However, while most corporate users will have trouble convincing their IT departments to support an iPhone, the Bold will slip seamlessly into any corporate exchange setup. Data rates on the Bold are lightning fast, while the integrated GPS is one of the best I've seen in a phone. And let's not forget that the even newer BlackBerry Storm has just broken cover, which offers a full touchscreen interface, just like the iPhone - could this be the handset that bridges the gap between corporate and consumer smartphones?

Even an old stalwart like Nokia has made some pretty major leaps in recent months. The excellent E71 for example took the battle directly to BlackBerry when it came to corporate email devices, and even now, after the launch of the Bold, the E71 still looks like a very attractive alternative to the ubiquitous BlackBerry. Meanwhile, the N96 is continuing Nokia's push into the mobile entertainment market, after the significant success of the N95 8GB. I doubt that too many O2 customers will be choosing one over an iPhone 3G though.

As if all this development in mobile technology wasn't enough, we're just about to see another major player enter the market and push the envelope even further. With T-Mobile getting set to launch its G1 handset, we're just weeks, or perhaps days, from seeing Google's much anticipated Android mobile interface hit the retail market. I've spent some time with the G1 already and so far I'm very impressed with what Google has brought to the table. Much like Apple with its iPhone interface, Google's Android is a simple, fast and ultimately user friendly mobile operating system, that should win many friends.

It's also worth noting that the G1 itself is a pretty decent handset, although it was inevitable that the hardware on which Android launched would play second fiddle to the OS itself. That said, it comes as no surprise to see that HTC is the launch partner, and I sincerely hope that we'll be seeing as many Android based HTC devices as we see Windows Mobile handsets over the coming year.

With Android being open source from the outset, it also has the potential of evolving faster than any other mobile operating system, while also winning over hobbyist developers. We'll have to wait and see how many hardware manufacturers adopt Google's mobile interface, but judging by what I've seen so far, I can't imagine that many would choose not to. One thing's for sure though, like the original BlackBerry, or the iPhone, the launch of Android will move the game on, and push every player to make better hardware and software. And with that in mind, maybe the mobile industry is about to make good on its promise of fully featured, connected, mobile computers in all our pockets.

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