[Best of the Web — Monday, 15 January 2010]
Mobile World Congress, the cellphone industry’s annual confab in Barcelona, Spain, kicked off on Monday. We’ll be bringing you the highlights of the event each day this week, including the important product launches and other announcements, so be sure to check back regularly. If you don’t already subscribe to our free daily newsletter, delivered each morning at 5am central African time, you can do so here. Or follow us on Twitter.
Microsoft starts over in smartphones: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has used a stage at the Mobile World Congress to unveil Windows Mobile 7 Series, new software it hopes will revive its flagging position in the smartphone market. The new software, which will only be available towards the end of the year, features a radically redesigned user interface, not dissimilar to the interface used on the Microsoft Zune HD music player. Apart from the interface improvements, Windows Mobile 7 Series also includes Zune multimedia software and Xbox Live functionality. Device manufacturers that will make handsets that will run the software include HTC, Dell, Asus, Garmin, Hewlett-Packard, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba. [Wired News] [PC Magazine]
Nokia, Intel merge software platforms: Nokia and Intel will merge the best elements of their Maemo and Moblin mobile operating systems, which are both based on Linux, to create the new MeeGo platform, the companies announced in a joint press conference at Mobile World Congress. The software, which is meant to run on just about everything, from mobile phones to laptop computers, will go head-to-head with Google’s fast-growing Android operating system. Android also has a Linux code base. [The New York Times] [CNet News] [MeeGo]
Vodafone unveils ‘world’s cheapest handset’: The UK’s Vodafone has used the Mobile World Congress to unveil what it claims is the world’s cheapest mobile phone. The Vodafone 150, which will be sold in developing markets, will sell for less than US$15 (R100), the cellular group said. Markets where it will be sold include SA, India, Turkey, Lesotho, Kenya and Ghana. Cheap handsets like the Vodafone 150 are expected to propel the number of mobile phone subscribers above the 5bn mark in 2010, from an estimated 4,6bn now. [BBC News]
Operators team up for apps platform: Two dozen mobile operators from around the world have joined forces to build an open platform to develop applications that will run on almost any mobile device. The move is seen by analysts as an attempt to rein in Apple’s App Store, which has taken a commanding lead in mobile apps. Known as the Wholesale Applications Community, the group includes Vodafone, China Mobile, France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. Application stores have become a new battleground in mobile, with BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, Nokia and Google all launching rivals to Apple’s store in the past year. [The Wall Street Journal] [AFP]
More to follow…