February 15, 2010

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

From California to Catalonia, from the Bay Area to Barcelona. For three days starting today Barcelona will become the world hub for mobile by hosting the Mobile World Congress. I like Barcelona quite a lot and I had the chance to live there for 6 months a few years ago. But every time I think about it I still find it quite surprising (and superbly smart) how well the city positioned itself and opened up to the world by leveraging the 1992 Summer Olympics. If smart marketing was a person, it would be Barcelona.

Anyways, the big event from today has been the presentation - Steve Ballmer himself has been there - of the long awaited "Windows Phone". It is funny that this release comes just a few days weeks after Google did the same with its Nexus one. It seems like Microsoft is so often late to the party (the phone is supposedly meant to start selling a year from now!) and many wonder if it's taken them too long to make this move into the mobile world.

But from some pieces that I have read it seems like the Windows Phone, featuring the new Windows Mobile 7 OS, is quite promising and signals a significant departure from other OS like Android and the iPhone. Plus Microsoft is not planning to manufacture devices itself but partnering with hardware manufacturers. People also argue that the new OS is built on some of the strengths of the Zune and the Xbox, none of which I am familiar with (I have also read that Microsoft is not planning to allow integration of these devices with Mac computers...)

Samsung has laso presented the "Wave", its new smartphone featuring a new Samsung-branded OS that will carry  its own app store.

The battle for mobile devices is going to be enthralling in the coming months. The stakes are high and everyone ants to get a larger piece of people's time as we all spend more and more time with our cellphones. Wait and see

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