Home > Technology, Telecom > Day 1: Mobile World Congress, 2011,Barcelona

Day 1: Mobile World Congress, 2011,Barcelona

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

General observation for the day: All the activity is in devices and applications. To be fair I haven’t met with many operators here yet but the impression I get is that they are generally trying hard to stay relevant and capture more value in the ecosystem.  This is in stark contrast to what I see in the VAS world of India/China where they rule the roost.   But the “emerged” economies are larger telecom markets and they will also go down this path as 3G rollouts move discussions to bits of data instead of minutes of voice usage.

The most palpable excitement at MWC this year is around the next generation of smart phones and tablets.  As a backdrop to this note, it may help to check out this incredibly honest letter from the CEO of Nokia to his employees last week (full text here).

The big stories this year:

  1. Windows phone 7 is real. It works smoothly and fast on several devices I tested it on (HTC, LG, Samsung, notably didn’t see a Nokia). It has an excellent user interface (borrows the best of iPhone and Android in places but has three key concepts underlying it which makes it powerful and will likely be emulated by the others:
    • Active tiles: harkens back to Windows Active Desktop where the wallpaper gets updated to reflect information you care about. Here each tile (which could encompass a hub – more on that below – or an app) displays information on the tile itself. So a stock ticker tile could turn green or red, an email tile could display the number of new messages and change colors etc. So you do not have to enter a tile or hub unless something is going on there.
    • Hubs – The OS is clustered around a few hubs of activity: the address book is your social hub and ties nicely with all messaging and social network posts for each contact. Similarly gaming is a hub and connects well with Xbox and online profiles for games you play on the device.
    • Pivots: Instead of tree like menus for applications, the hubs feature so called “pivots” which I am still trying to understand but intuitively appear to be different ways of getting to information. So you can pivot from a game to your avatar and from there to avatars for your friends who also play the same game and another pivot would put you in your address book.

    My sense is that Windows 7 will become a contender as it will serve the niche Microsoft centric folks who already own an Xbox and prefer Outlook to Gmail and Bing to Google really well. The app strategy will determine how much of a challenger they become to Apple/Google.

  2. Features are being cranked up yet another notch: The phones I played with this year make my 4 month old Samsung Galaxy 3 (which I thought was real fast) look very sluggish. They are sensitive to network performance too but here in Spain they seem to perform really well on 3G networks. They are real multi-media devices now: Nvidia showcased cutting edge graphics, HD video and Dolby played real 5.1 hi def sound surround from touch phones
  3. NFC has caught the interface buzz this year. Several handset and chipset vendors showcased NFC offerings. More importantly payment networks (VISA) and POS manufacturers (Vivotech) threw their weight behind NFC showcasing working platforms. While devices with built in NFC are on the way, several clip ons to existing phones and micro-SD solutions are already available.
  4. The Tablet revolution continues: I got my hands on the blackberry playbook (pictures to come later). This is a sweet 7″ device with a very intuitive interface that breaks away from the button-down corporate feel of their email devices. However it does allow a bluetooth tether to your handheld blackberry to share emails and documents between devices. Although it feels solidly like a consumer device rather than a corporate one, I still cannot see why I would buy this without the full app support that Apple/Android provide. It also does not solve the problem of my corporate blackberry being locked down. And the playbook lacks 3G support for now (huh?).  This year is going to be see a battle of the iPad2 vs. an army of 7″ Android/Blackberry devices.

The conference is set on the massive grounds of the National Palace in Barcelona (called the Fira) and covering it takes several kilometers of walking around so there is more to come on the subject.

Categories: Technology, Telecom
  1. Marutish Varanasi
    February 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Shyam, Nice to hear that Windows phone 7 is for real and may give Apple/Google guys some competition. But as you rightly said its the app strategy which will determine how much of a challenger they become to Apple/Google.

  2. Shanker
    February 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Could you spot Notion Ink’s Adam (Sachin Ralhan) ?
    Your take on the device? – Shanker

    • Shyam Kamadolli
      February 17, 2011 at 1:32 am

      I know Notion Ink but have not met Sachin – I will probably meet him back in India and instead focus on international visitors here.

  3. Shyam Kamadolli
    February 17, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Spent some time playing with the new 10.1″ Samsung Galaxy Tab today which left me a little under impressed. The Nexus S running Android Gingerbread was a lot better though.

  1. August 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: