In my part of the world, and in many other parts too, it’s a time when people are dashing about the shops looking for presents for their loved-ones. On account of a skating mis-hap, I’m now trapped at home and any further present buying will be done online. What strikes me about this year’s buying frenzy in particular is the prevalence of gifts related to mobile devices. Here’s a quick round-up of the m-Toys I’ve observed being pushed by retailers this year:

  • Apple iPhone and iTouch. I like both of these, but the operator contracts that go with the iPhone might make this a present “with strings attached”. The Nokia N810 is another non-phone device in this category, though I’d go with the iTouch because when it comes to gifts, many prefer style over substance.
  • Mobile Games. The market for mobile games software will average around $7bn in 2008. The digital signature requirements of some manufacturers (Nokia and Apple, for example) could make installation of games more tricky, and thus restrict the high-end games to select well-known brands. Games to watch are Dakar 2008 and FIFA 08. Unfortunately, Ratatouille for mobile won’t be available until January, no matter how much you beg Santa.
  • Mobile TV. For the telly addicts. I’m on record as saying that the mobile TV technology is nothing new (I have an ultra-mini portable TV from the mid ’90s) and that TV on mobile phones is just a flash in the pan. Of course, the heavy marketing could make this flash last a long time. I still don’t understand why people who brag about the size of their home flatscreen TV would also want one that was so small that it was hard to see. Perhaps TV is just a thing of extremes.
  • Mobile Jewellery. That’s “jewelry” to my American friends, and still very popular in Japan where it was hot this time last year. Now it’s global. Diamonds for your phone perhaps? Or how about a mini-toy dangling on a chain, which lights up or spins when there’s an incoming call? Personally, I will stick to my blue Mobile Web Initiative gem that has hung on my phone ever since the W3C first starting distributing them. Collectors items!
  • Bluetooth everything. When the technology was first launched, it was mainly used for headsets and moving files between phone and PC. Now we have the solar-powered Bluetooth headset, Bluetooth watches, Bluetooth keyboards, noise-cancelling Bluetooth car kits, pens that record your writing and store the result via Bluetooth, phone to TV connections via Bluetooth and more. My favourite is Motorola’s new Miniblue H9 earpiece.
  • Micro-USB phone charger. Maybe this might not fit your current phone, but it’s due to be the standard phone charger connector of the future. The OMTP agreed the format back in September this year. Perhaps we will eventually find phone manufacturers supplying phones without chargers, and leaving it to the consumer to choose a third-party unit that fits their life-style. If you’re buying a new phone, check that it has a micro-USB connector/adaptor.
  • mWii? The Wii is the hot toy in my neck of the woods. We’ve been playing it at home for months and agree that it sure gives you a fun workout. If the shops have sold out, maybe you could opt for a mobile version! Already seen in Japan and the US, and soon to appear in Europe, the GestureTek Mobile has motion sensitivity with which you control on-screen games or other applications requiring selection or direction input. Not the full-body workout you can get from the Wii, but pretty cool anyway.
  • Additional batteries. Like all toys, batteries are a must. With all the new mobile applications, advanced graphics, multitude of connectivity options, always-on services and more, mobile devices are just eating their batteries. Several people I know have the Nokia N95 and all complain that the battery only lasts a few hours, but they wouldn’t be parted from their N95. For these people, check what battery they use and pop one into their Christmas stocking.

As for me, I don’t want mobile gadgets this Christmas. I just want to be mobile. Instead, I’ll just prop my broken leg on a stool and lean back to watch this year’s boring TV. (Flatscreen, modestly sized, I’ll have you know.)

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