Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Why it's Fierce: This year will long be remembered as the year a certain company from Cupertino, Calif., entered the wireless sector with a touch screen music phone with a potential user base eagerly awaiting its availability, but should Apple's iPhone falter, as some analysts predict, there is a sleeper company from Sweden that could pick up the slack. Neonode's N2 handset is cheaper and smaller with an incredibly precise infrared grid touch screen. The handset responds to sweeping gestures and light taps, but requires no pressure or stylus. Some believe the iPhone's "sweep to the right to unlock" feature was stolen wholesale from Neonode's original handset, the N1, released in 2004. It's also worth noting that Neonode's new CEO Mikael Hagman formerly served as a European Sony CEO.
What to look for: Neonode plans to merge with IP SAN software developer SBE, which will put Neonode shares on Nasdaq. Going public won't be a huge win for the handset maker, but updating the N2 with a larger screen for the U.S. market and inking deals with both a major handset maker for manufacturing their handsets as well as a U.S. carrier (anyone but AT&T) will pit the company's wares squarely against Apple's iPhone. The firm's original touch-screen phone, the N1, sold direct-to-consumer for about $400 three years ago, so they are likely to beat Apple on price with their latest model.