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Mobile World Congress: Day 1 Review

by Ben Smith on 15th February 2011

My summary of what’s been going on at the world’s biggest mobile event…

Talk of the Town

The big news here is still the Nokia / Microsoft tie-up that was announced last Friday, but is being fleshed out with a little more detail at the sessions here. Stephen Elop (Nokia CEO) has added some (but not all) of the detail people are hungry for but insists the company has a cash value of ‘billions’ to Nokia whilst Steve Balmer (Microsoft) was a little easier to read as he talked about volumes, markets and carrier relationships (especially with regard to carrier billing for the app store) which Nokia brings to the party. There’s still some shock about the speed of the move – you can pretty much ditch Symbian and MeeGo as of now unless you’re targeting a big legacy community and we’ll see the first device by Q4 this year. It’s also bad news for Intel as it highlights how slow MeeGo development has been and damages their potential to sell mobile chips (without a platform to push them with). It is now – apparently – all about the ‘ecosystem’ not the device or OS.

Money, money, money

There’s quite a lot of mobile payments / NFC noise with a few carrier / finance organisations announcing roll-outs (such as Visa and Orange in the UK) but mostly technology demonstrators. It all looks quite exciting until you realise how far away from consumer ready the exciting stuff is. For mobile banking / payments I’m still not sold on the value of simply putting the ‘card in the phone’ and wonder how enthusiastic consumers will really be.

The ‘other’ Steve-note

Windows Phone is getting multi-tasking and hardware accelerated web browsing. Not revolutionary but it shows that Microsoft is moving at speed to get the platform matured.

The Droids You’re Looking For…

Android is everywhere and Samsung, HTC and Huawei all have new devices to show off – Samsung’s at the high-spec end of the market but Huawei’s offerings are showing how the price can be brought down. Motorola’s Xoom – the new Android 3 tablet – is very nice, fast and well built (albeit I’ve heard painfully overpriced, but that will improve with time and volume). The tablet-specific refinements in the newest version of Android are very well done and easy to get on with.

And finally…

Elsewhere there’s a million different types of app stores for every conceivable need (yawn), the wireless power companies have finally got themselves agreed on a common standard which will be built into some big-name products soon and I saw a very impressive technology demonstration from a 3D mapping company which creates 3D models of cities using photography rather than hand-built models or laser-scanning as others do.

Weather

It rained.

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