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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Hi-tech trends on show in Spain
Google search results for YouTube, Getty
The Google/YouTube deal overshadowed the conference
In a report from the annual European Technology Roundtable Exhibition in Barcelona, BBC News business correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones reveals the technologies that may be tempting us in the months ahead.

From Sony to Microsoft, from Skype to Symantec, leaders of the world's biggest technology firms are in Barcelona this week to debate what the future holds.

They have gathered for Etre (the European Technology Roundtable Exhibition), an annual event which also brings together start-up companies and the financiers who might fund them.

It's a great place to work out what's hot and what's not in the technology world - so here is what is causing a buzz in Barcelona.

Social networking

Last year Rupert Murdoch's News Corp bought MySpace , now Google has snapped up YouTube - and everyone else wants to put money into sites where the content comes from the users.

Screen grab of funkysexycool homepage, funkysexycool
Founded in Australia, funkysexycool is expanding overseas
Nobody is quite clear just how you turn wacky video clips or teenage scribblings into a viable business - but they are betting that advertisers will want to sell to the huge audiences these sites attract.

One company at the Barcelona event plans to cash in by taking social networking onto mobile phones.

Funkysexycool (it hails from Australia where understatement is a lost art) has signed up 100,000 mobile users to a network which allows them to look at photos of other subscribers and rate them as funky, sexy or cool.

There are prizes for those who get the most votes.

Unlike many social networking businesses funkysexycool does not have to depend on advertising revenue - its users pay about 3 (5 euros) a month to upload photos from their phones onto the network.

The company is now moving into the United States, where it will find out whether a bigger audience finds its service funky - or just a little uncool.

Internet telephony

Just when you thought net telephony, or Voice Over IP (Voip) to use its technical name - was a geeky fad which was fading fast, it is hot again.

Ganesha holding modern technology, AP
Soon your mobile could be routing calls via wi-fi
Last year Skype, which made Voip a mass-market phenomenon, was bought by eBay before it had really proved that you could make money from offering free internet phone calls.

Now the whole idea is getting a new lease of life through the drive to offer Voip calls from mobile phones. One firm pushing its technology in Barcelona is Jajah, which claims to slash the cost of making calls from abroad.

Users need a handset that uses Symbian software, and once they sign up calls head through the local GSM network onto the web, so only local call charges apply.

Also in Barcelona, British wireless company The Cloud announced it was teaming up with Skype to offer mobile calls from wi-fi hotspots across Europe - though for this service you will need a wi-fi enabled handset.

Wireless world

The biggest buzz was around a Spanish company with ambitions to make the whole world a wi-fi hotspot.

Fon believes it can do this by recruiting millions of people who are willing to share their wi-fi connection.

"Foneros", as its members are called, pay 5 euros to receive a simple router, and once they've hooked it up to their own system, they become part of a global network whose members can look on a map to find a free wi-fi connection.

Fon's founder Martin Varsavsky said it was all about "nice people who share wi-fi amongst nice people." Sounds great - but are there really enough nice people to make a world of free wi-fi work?




SEE ALSO
News Corp in $580m internet buy
19 Jul 05 |  Business
Google buys YouTube for $1.65bn
10 Oct 06 |  Business
EBay to buy Skype in $2.6bn deal
12 Sep 05 |  Business
Real world tests for net calling
31 Aug 06 |  Technology
Wireless boost for British cities
18 May 06 |  Technology

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