It is often difficult to step back from the flow of news coming out from Barcelona but here's a quick take on the main announcements.
– new handset makers such as ACER are entering the mobile space highlighting the fact that boundaries between computers and mobile phones are being blurred. Toshiba, HP are already here and Dell or Lenovo could well follow. Will they succeed? Well they need to master not only the hardware but also the software, offer scalability/economies of scale, negotiate with operators and revamp their brands. This will not happen in one night but some of them have bold long-term objectives
– As always a great autumn/winter device collection from the usual suspects: Nokia E75, SE "Idou", LG Arena or Smasung Beat DJ. Despite few announcements (2 devices with Android OS), Google and Apple cast their shadow over the congress though. Apple because most phones were still compared to the iPhone even though the device was announced 2 years ago. If many visitors were disappointed not to see more Android handsets, one should bear in mind this is still the early days and that there is a strong support from the Open Handset Alliance. No doubt this is a long-term play and that Android is here to stay.
– Appstores are the new retailing/merchandizing paradigm. Many handset/OS vendors announced their own "vertical" solutions but operators also joined the dance such as Orange with its Application shop. The parntership between T-Mobile and OVI is one of the most interesting announcements at it shows that operators can also offer an "horizontal" layer and offer a large reach/distribution to developers. Not everybody will succeed but it is likely that both types of stores will co-exist.
– there are plenty of other very interesting announcements such as the Nokia/Qualcomm truce, the good momentum of LTE vs Wimax (manufacturers I spoke to do not plan to release LTE handsets before 2011 though), the GSMA mobile metrics survey results, and the flow of innovation around location-based services and mobile social networks.
With disruptive technologies ahead, the MWC congress is an amazing glimpse of what the future of mobile services could become. Despite gloomy expectations of a tough year to come, the industry is confident in its future and will come out ahead of the recession because of its constant innovation. Internet players and new entrants are leading the innovative path and forcing traditional telecom stakeholders and particularly operators to reinvent themselves.
If you want to have more details about these announcements, Forrester clients can read this brand new report published today: Mobile World Congress 2009: At the Heart of a New Ecosystem
You can also register to this teleconference taking place next Monday (March 2nd) where I will come back on these announcements and discuss key mobile consumer trends.