Post MWC Mobile Round-Up

Now we are talking! If I wasn’t a developer trying to sort through this crazy mess I’d be ecstatic about what is happening in the mobile computing space. Real competition is here and we should start to see some serious shake out over the next few years. Let’s recap the operating system players:

Not one, not two but now three OS possibilities for the company. The world leader in all things mobile announced a partnership with Intel this week for an OS called MeeGo, which is built on Intel’s Linux-based OS Moblin. Now Nokia supports Maemo on their high-end devices and Symbian on their low-end smartphones.

Where does MeeGo fit in? I don’t know. I met with a couple of Intel folks involved with this project last week. Will Intel finish what they started? Will people adopt Moblin as a part of the entire stack from Intel processor through OS? I can say the crew is doing interesting things for developers for sure but I can’t say whether it will matter as us developers need hardware and lots of devices sold to make it worth our while.

Now we have the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Apple will likely be announcing new devices in March or April (for summer release) and likely OS4 in July. They are still the thought leader in the US. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Great demo this week of a real, WebKit-based browser on a BlackBerry smartphone. This is a huge change for the company and starts to establish a general standard for browsers as Apple, Google, Palm and RIM now all use WebKit. On top of that, with Microsoft’s intro of Windows Phone 7 this week, it ensures that RIM is the only smartphone company focused on business customers. Hello! RIM could use some competition here!

Speaking of business customers, I’m afraid RIM still doesn’t get it in one respect. I keep trying. Maybe someone else can get through to them. Somebody tell RIM that small companies don’t care about BES. They want the features for sure but few small businesses will be implementing their own exchange server and BES to control their remote devices. Why don’t you set up a service that provides BES capabilities but doesn’t require any of the technical know-how? I just don’t get how RIM can’t see this as the real opportunity here.

Who would have guessed that Microsoft could pull this off. If I was a betting man I would have bet Microsoft would develop a device focuses on the enterprise, their bread and butter. Instead it’s much more consummerish (based on the demo) with the same kinds of social media integration features that Palm and Motorola have integrated. Maybe this social networking notification ability has deeper meaning that hasn’t been revealed yet for businesses. One thing to remember, developers, no backwards compatibility here. Windows Mobile apps won’t run. This also means that there is zero devices sold with Windows Phone 7. I don’t think it is vaporware but MS has a long way to go to catch up with 100m smartphone sales per year by Nokia, RIM and Apple combined.

The new kings of licensing, of course, haven’t gone anywhere as Android is rumored to be rolling out on over 20 devices this year. On top of that, Chrome OS for netbooks and, likely, tablets will be of interest to hardware vendors always playing catch up to Apple. Clearly Google is a long-term player here.

And one of the nicest OSes for developers, webOS, from mobile innovator Palm is vialable, too. I expect sales of webOS devices to grow substantially this year as AT&T and Verizon pick up the Pre and Pixi. Given that the competition is stiff. I believe the days of Palm being the big player on the block are over but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful financially. The question is can Palm find a niche that can be lucrative? In other words, can Palm find a core capability highly prized by customers that will separate them from the pack. I’m afraid their current emphasis isn’t it.

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