RBC Capital Markets said in its highlights before the Mobile World Congress 2011 show that smartphone units may accelerate this year from last year’s 60 percent growth as devices do more and simultaneously move down market for the masses.

The Android OS ecosystem is getting stronger as evidenced by the strong line-up of new devices at Mobile World Congress from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, and others. This year it seems to be less about the number of new devices and more about major flagship phones for communication, apps, e-commerce, enterprise applications, and mobile payments -- all better integrated with cloud services, said Mark Sue, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

One interesting aspect is the growing use of Android for the enterprise. Many vendors at the show are offering Microsoft exchange with ActiveSync enhanced with hardware accelerated security on multiple account support. Samsung is taking it a step further with Cisco's AnyConnect VPN client and WebEx compatibility, RBC Capital said in a note to clients.

The smart device is getting even smarter and potentially may replace the E-reader, HD video camera, and even portable game player (consider the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play). Vendors are also beginning to differentiate more by adding their own customization on top of the operating system.

Sue said big news came from Samsung and Sony Ericsson with LG and HTC to make a splash later today. Samsung sold over 10 million original Galaxy S smartphones and now has an even better Galaxy S II. Samsung also added to its Tablet family with the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Honeycomb and Adobe 10.1 flash support.

It’s still early and Apple Inc. is the one to catch, but the market for Tablets is growing faster than what we saw with laptops, DVDs, and MP3 players. At last count, we estimate there are about 90 Tablets soon to come to market with iPad 2 set to launch in the Spring, so competition may be intense, said Sue.

What about Windows Phone 7 and this new Nokia partnership? Sue said it seems like Sony Ericsson is no longer a big supporter of Windows and Motorola took a pass, leaving just a handful of meaningful takers (Samsung, LG, HTC).

We did learn nonetheless that Microsoft may transfer dollar-billions to the ecosystem to jump-start the efforts, alleviating some concerns of a Gross Margin hit to Nokia. Spec-wise, the hardware keeps getting better from the device makers. Dual core processors, enhanced displays, and better video are key differentiators in the growing but crowded smartphone market, said Sue.