There was non-stop news coming out of Barcelona last week regarding the Mobile World Congress event. I have to admit that I am still digesting all of the announcements and their implications. Here’s a look at what I found interesting from last week.
Most noteworty announcement: Microsoft Windows Phone Series 7 was the biggest announcement of the show. They unveiled an OS architecture and UI based off the ZuneHD interface and talked a good game around mobile. The design of the OS is a winner, but the availability of late 2010 is a killer. It is all about execution now for Microsoft who can’t afford to fall any further behind Apple and Android for mobile mindshare.
Best handset announcements: HTC continues to design the best looking handsets. They unveiled three new handsets at the show: Desire, Legend and HD mini. I can’t wait to get my hands on these to try them out.
Attack of the OEMs: A new trend appears to be hardware OEMs making handsets. Acer, Dell, Huawei and ZTE all introduced or discussed handsets at the show. More consumer choice is always a good thing, but I wonder if these manufacturers can break the stranglehold that carriers have over handset manufacturers here in the US.
Most interesting phone announcement: Puma, yes the show company, announced a phone at the show. My first reaction was who cares, but after seeing the reviews, Puma may be onto something. Instead of trying to build a universal device, Puma has focused the phone on sports and leisure activites and included some fun and neat features, like a solar cell back for charging. I doubt the Puma phone will rival the iPhone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain some traction among sporting enthusiasts. That’s the beauty of a market with billions of users, there are plenty of niches you can attack.
Most interesting product: SK Telecom has created a SIM card that holds a processor, memory, 1GB of flash storage, and the Android OS on it. Why do you care? You can store your entire mobile environment on the SIM card (contacts, customizations and OS) allowing you to switch phones as often as you like without having to set-up the phone each time you switch.
“I could have been a contender” product: The Samsung Wave received great reviews for its design, particularly its display which uses a new AMOLED technology from Samsung. Most AMOLED screens are unusable in outdoor lighting, but the Wave appears to fix that problem. Unfortunately, the Wave uses Samsung’s Bada operating system. Don’t be surprised if you don’t know what Bada is because I don’t either, except to tell you it will require you to learn a whole new operating system and hope that all of your favorite app developers are willing to support yet another platform.
Most hollow keynote: People expecting big things from Google’s keynote were severly disappointed. Outside of Eric Schmidt announcing a “mobile first” strategy and the fact that Android was shipping 60,000 units per day, nothing else was interesting.
“What took you so long” announcement: RIM finally demonstrated a usable browser for their loyal BlackBerry users. Unfortunately, it’s not available immediately, but for BlackBerry mobile web sufferers users, the new browser can’t come soon enough.
Most interesting mobile strategy: Facebook had an interesting announcement with their Mobile Zero web strategy. It is a stripped down mobile web version of the Facebook interface. It provides the advantage of offloading the strain on carriers networks and keeping costs down for people who pay by bit for mobile web surfing. It’s refreshing to see a company recognize that people do use the mobile internet on their phones and then spend the effort to optimize the experience.
“Maybe we should have done the Google phone” announcement: Sony Ericsson announced an impressive lineup of new phones (X10, X10 mini, Vivaz, Vivaz Pro) that are very consumer-oriented. The features are focused on camera quality and social networking integration with very little enterprise support. Personally, I don’t get Sony Ericsson’s strategy. If the rumor that they turned down the opportunity to build the first Android 2.1 phone is true, then they missed a huge opportunity. I can’t help but wonder how much longer these companies will continue to invest in this money losing venture.
“We had to announce something” announcement: Nokia and Intel made waves by announcing that they are going to combine their mobile OS efforts, Maemo and Moblin, into MeeGo. Nokia obviously needs to do something to head off the juggernaut that Apple and Android have become, and Intel needs to figure out a way to stem ARM’s microprocessor dominance in the mobile space. The announcement wasn’t meaty enough for me to decide if they have any chance of succeeding, but these two companies have access to way too many resources to count them out.
“What were they thinking” announcement: 24 wireless companies announced plans to create the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), an open platform that lets developers build an application once, and then deploy it to work on any carrier, device and OS. A lofty goal, but as Jason Kincaid pointed out on Techcrunch, isn’t that the purpose of the mobile internet and web apps? The WAC is doomed (or whack), and I don’t expect we will see much of anything out of this group.
“Where’s Waldo” award: Apple continues to thumb its nose at the rest of the mobile industry and was noticeably absent from MWC, even though Steve Jobs won the GSMA award for mobile personality of the year. I could go off on my own personal rant, but Devesh took care of that for me earlier this week.
From 5,000+ miles away, MWC looked like a fun event to be at. Hopefully, I’ll get to go to it one of these days. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on the big announcements out of MWC last week, or if there was anything I missed.