There were a few other observations that I’d like to share:
Software is on the rise – no big news of course – for the very first time it became very visible or in fact hardware was hidden and not shown at all by the major vendors. I did not see one booth where boring racks filled with hardware and blinking LEDs was all there was. All vendors even if they sell hardware presented services, use of applications or high level benefits for the end users.
For the first time in 15 years, the award ceremony was open to all attendees and did not require attending the special – to be paid – evening event. 19 awards were handed out by Stephen Frey, who did an outstanding job moderating the vent. Interesting to see that the GSMA members awarded Steve Jobs with the Mobile Industry Personality of the Year award. This is remarkable not only because Apple does not even have a booth nor hospitality suite so completely ignored the event, but more so because the iPhone put many of the traditional mobile phone vendors under lots of pressure. Also mobile operators for sure see Apple with mixed feelings. Apple – together with Google – are forcing them to change their business models which means they have to think about how to monetize complete services and applications rather than reselling mobile phone connectivity only.
There were still some not purely data-focused but based on the good old voice service innovations that even won awards:
· Orange France high-definition voice
· Addafix GmbH with yellix – caller ID
Orange improved the voice quality in Moldavia by introducing an AMR-WB codec and plans to roll it out across Europe in 2010. They say that the quality of the sound is like having the other party in the same room. Of course only if that other party is on the same Orange network as well.
The startup company addafix Gmbh from Austria solves a problem that seems even more obvious but – astonishingly – has not been properly addressed at all by the mobile operators to date.
When one does not reach a called party the phone will display three or so alternatives that are closest to the current caller location. A service that seems quite obvious and something all mobile operators should have offered for a long time since at least triangulation as a means for determining the location of the caller is well known for about a decade and does not require GPS receiver chipsets in the mobiles. Such a service should immediately increase the revenue of the operators one would think. The free service is called YELLIX and can be downloaded onto your phone. Most smartphone platforms are supported.
Addafix was also the only company that won two awards this week in Barcelona. They were also a winner in the startup Mobile Premier Award on Monday, which was partly organized by MobileMonday who invited winners from different country organizations.
The prestigious mobile handset award was btw won by the Google Android phone from HTC: the HTC Hero with the Sense user interface.
For the very same reason that software is becoming the driving force, you can also see more software developer guys walking around with Jeans who attend sessions such as the Google Android Developer presentations. Once the news spread that Google again gives away a Nexus One to everyone attending, the lines at least quadrupled. Good freebees still attract the crowd. No change here.
Two companies that decided to not participate with a huge and expensive booth anymore were LG and interestingly NOKIA. NOKIA reportedly invited VIPs to a nearby hotel that they rented. Research in Motion (RIM) stayed at the premises and took lots of the LG space increasing its presence substantially.
A first attending the event was Skype who has also just announced a partnership with Verizon where thetwo will offer cheaper VoIP calls over the 3G EV-DO network. More such deals will be coming I think.
The discussion mostly heating up between the old telco mobile world and the PC/Internet players was who is going to pay for the to be expected all time record US$ 200 billion investments that will be required to install and rollout high speed mobile IP networks which is double what was spent on 3G infrastructure in the late 1990. Mobile operators seem to want to make sure that this time around they get a cut from the big new pie and not leave it to the Googles’ of the world alone.
Interesting times for sure are ahead also because of Eric Schmidt’s keynote speech where he announced a new Google mantra called “Mobile First”. Google’s top programmers are now concentrating on mobile as their primary focus. He said:
“The mobile phone is where computing power, interconnectivity, and the cloud converge and you need to get these three waves right if you want to win.”