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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 08:17 GMT
Mobile focus for hi-tech Hanover
By Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News website

Cebit advert being erected, AP
The finishing touches are being put to the Cebit show grounds
Hanover is bracing itself for an influx of hi-tech firms and fans who will be in town for the giant Cebit show.

Billed as the world's biggest hi-tech fair it will host more than 400,000 visitors during the six day event.

Any and every type of technology will be on show at the trade fair but the main focus this year is likely to be on portable devices - be they phones or handheld computers.

Despite the interest in the event, some big-name firms will be staying away.

Handy helpers

Cebit runs from 15-21 March and this year celebrates 21 years as a showcase for every kind of technology.

Likely to catch the headlines in 2007 will be TV on mobiles, handsets that are as much fashion accessories as lifestyle aids and the continuing battles over high-definition DVD formats.

In 2006 interest in the show got a boost from the launch of Microsoft's Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC). Samsung was first to show a slimline tablet-type PC that met Microsoft specifications for such a gadget but it won few initial fans as battery life and general performance were lacklustre.

This year many more UMPCs are likely to be on show and some suggest they are starting to make good on the initial promise of the idea.

Also expected at the show will be a slew of handsets that are keen to outdo Apple's iPhone project. This touch-screen phone was announced in early 2006 and is expected to launch in the US in summer of 2007.

Samsung UMPC, AFP/Getty
In 2006 much of the talk was about the UMPC
Prior to that many established handset makers such as LG, Samsung and others are launching touch-screen phones that share the looks and capabilities of the Apple-designed gadget.

Sony is also scheduled to show off the PlayStation 3 prior to its European launch on 23 March.

Viviane Reding, European commissioner for Information Society and Media, is also due to make an announcement about the EC's policy on RFID tags.

While welcomed by business, these tiny radio tags have worried many consumers for their potential to erode personal privacy.

In 2006 Ms Reding announced the EC was starting to develop a policy that would help businesses get best use of radio tags to streamline supply chains without denting the ability of citizens to keep their personal lives free of casual scrutiny.

Although the number of visitors to the show remains huge the total has been in decline since the record-breaking year of 2001.

The show itself has suffered a dent in its fortunes as some big names, such as Nokia Philips, Motorola, Canon and many others, are not taking stand space in 2007.

Some fear that by trying to cover every type of technology Cebit is spreading itself too thinly and is being shown up by more specific shows such as the 3GSM show and the US Consumer Electronics Show.

For 2008 the show will undergo a revamp that will see it shortened by a day and its focus sharpened to concentrate on technologies for small and medium-sized firms.

Some of the new technology on display at Cebit

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