Sunday, February 14, 2010

App Planet - 'tis app'ning at Barcelona !

El iPhone en el stand de O2 en el Mobile World...Image by blogpocket via Flickr
Mobile World Congress is here this year with more participants than ever. Now what is the b..( ah can't use buzz like before anymore let Google make it gbuzz ) big themes this time ? You guessed it right. It is the "apps" - the small applets that gained fame as finger food for iPhone users. Every platform now has it and service providers are starting to have their own app aggregation too. Mobile World Congress acknowledges the trend by having an App Planet program as a focused developer event. Spread over four days, App Planet has two platforms covered on each day, starting from Vodafone and Motorola and then on to RIM, Sony Ericsson and Google Android. For the first time Nokia does not have a presence at the Mobile World Congress in a business decision that apparently reflects Apple's approach which too does not make use of the Mobile World Congress to launch products. Apple does its own events which are designed to suit its interests perfectly and Nokia is also expected to do the same.

Google is building the second momentum after the Android push with plans for a super-fast fiber network to half a million homes across America. This should send alarm bells ringing for the traditional telcos. Google has also slowly but inevitably started to focus on hardware with its Nexus One phone. There is a lot of talk as to which entity would be able to pose a counter to Google's hurtling advances. Its not difficult to imagine Google taking a big chunk of the market by showing a will to controlling customers data. Now's the time for a player to like Nokia to consolidate non-American market by making (pretty) big investments on OS, platform and an ecosystem to take advantage of the latent period when the strong American players ( Google, Apple) fight it out among themselves.

What about RIM, the makers of the well accepted Blackberry smartphones? RIM had wriggled out of very tricky situations in the past and has gained strength in the enterprise segment significantly and is still the leader in the smartphone segment in the US market, which is a big thing seen along with the growth of iphone. During the course of last year some businesses had indeed switched over to iphones for their workforce. However this trend has not appreciably picked up and I think the Android moment had a side effect of delaying large scale enterprise shift from Blackberry centric policies. RIM is certainly a strong player with notable innovation strengths and is bound to play a dominant role in the near future.

The other news that has made a splash is that of Motorola splitting itself into two companies. Now the mobile phone business would be an attractive proposition for potential suitors. It has been a theme with Motorola to spin off the mobile phone business at an appropriate time and Motorola had driven cost measures aggressively and has got a measure of success. My hunch is that the mobile phone business would be lapped up by some PE group or the other option - being taken over by a big player - Google comes to mind... let us wait and see.

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