Mobile World Congress has always been the place to be when you want the latest news in the mobile technology scene. And as usual, the mobile enthusiasts' mecca did not fail to deliver.
Instead of a strong focus on the devices heading to our shores (or not so, from the production lines of NTT DoCoMo), the real show stealer for this year's Mobile World Congress has to be Microsoft's unveiling of its revamped mobile operating system (OS), Windows Phone 7 Series. In the face of stiff competition from the likes of the open-source Android and Samsung's new bada OS, the stakes have never been higher for the Redmond company.
Thankfully, the prospects for Microsoft's new mobile OS is looking to be great. Much like the Chinese's tradtion of chucking out the old and welcoming the new, Microsoft did the same thing with its mobile platform. But with a long wait ahead of us (at least 8 months according to Microsoft's estimated holiday availability), the winds could change for Microsoft if they aren't careful about the competition.Windows Phone 7 Series is a brand new step for them, building a whole new user experience that integrates with Microsoft's existing Windows Live services.
This goes to show the importance of cloud services for the mobile platform in the years to come. While 2009 might have been the year of the apps and Apple reigning supreme with its App Store, 2010 could be a turning point for a lot of key players in the mobile market. Google's Android is still hard at work, dishing out its Android 2.1 (Eclair) platform to not only its own Google Nexus One, but also providing it for other manufacturers to take advantage of the seamless integration of Google's services with their own devices.
While Android has brought a new lease of life for ailing companies such as Motorola (as seen on its Motorola DROID or Milestone), another mobile OS is facing dire problems of its own. Symbian, which plays a major role for Nokia's devices, is trailing behind. Symbian has also announced its updated Symbian^3 (pronounced as Symbian Three), but like Microsoft, perhaps a major overhaul is required. Therein lies Nokia's latest decision to move its smartphone platform onto the Maemo base.
Meanwhile, Samsung is making its move with their first bada phone, the Samsung Wave. Yet, what one needs to consider is not just the phone and the OS, it's the whole ecosystem. Though Samsung is following through with the needs of the mobile ecosystem with its own app store, the question is: will it be able to match up to the earlier launched Apple iTunes App Store and Google Android Market?
In retrospect, we have to say that the mobile ecosystem is now ruled by three key factors - devices, apps and services, the first of which will pale in comparison to the importance of the other two as the months go by.
Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor
Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.