HomeMobile EuropeSunday night, Monday morning in Barcelona

    Sunday night, Monday morning in Barcelona


    Happy Valentine’s Day – another one spent at Mobile World Congress. So let’s spend it with each other, then, with a look at the news already made at the show, and a glance at what’s ahead today. Sunday evening in Barcelona is becoming a busy night for the journos. Time was it was just Sony Ericsson that got the jump on the conference by holding its press event on the Sunday evening. This year Nokia and Samsung joined in at almost exactly the same time. So we had all three vendors holding events on Sunday looking to get a head start on the week.

    Realising that Friday morning’s announcement was always going to dominate, Nokia turned its press conference into an extended Q&A on exactly why it has made its Microsoft decision, and what it will be getting as a result of the agreement. Nuggets to emerge were that Stephen Elop, previously reported to be the seventh-highest individual holder of Microsoft shares, has been selling them, and will continue too, once regulatory restrictions are lifted.

    Responding to a shouted question from the floor, Elop directly denied that he was a Microsoft “Trojan Horse”, and said he had made the decision to go for WP7 with the full agreement of Nokia executives and the board. He also revealed that he had only let Intel (Nokia’s partner in developing the MeeGo OS) know about the decision only on Thursday nights. Elop also revealed that the “value” coming back to Nokia from Microsoft was in the billions, not millions, of dollars.

    There was a hint that Nokia might have a WP7 device ready in 2011, and Elop also reiterated that he has received operator support for the decision, with one operator CEO supposedly telling him the operator was very happy to have a third major league OS on the scene. He also said that the vendor had considered Android, but decided against it. And Nokia’s official priority now is to beat Android – and pointed out the “threat” to the mobile industry if Android becomes too dominant.

    So the clear theme was that this was an operator-friendly move, creating a tool for operator to compete with Android and Apple.

    As if to emphasise the grip Android has on top-end device developers, across town, Sony Ericsson was officically launching three new Android devices – the Xperia Neo, the Xperia Pro and the Xperia Play. The Play – the supposed Playstation Phone – was advertised during the Superbowl, and widely previewed by tech bloggers. The other two phones are a sort of big brother – little brother double act. The Pro combines a touch screen with a slide-out keyboard, and is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 processor and based on Google’s Gingerbread operating system. The Neo is touchscreen-only and smaller than the Pro, with the same processor and OS. The Xperia Pro comes with Office Suite Pro already on board, and will be rolled out towards the end of the second quarter of this year. The Xperia Neo is due at the end of the first quarter, as is the Xperia Play.

    Finally, Samsung showed off the latest of its Android devices, with the launch of a new tablet, and also the Galaxy S II, its newest smartphone. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet will be sold by Vodafone (VOD.L) in more than 20 countries before being released to other carriers. Samsung was also at pains to point out its enterprise credentials, announcing  arange of enterprise services and enhanced security with Cisco VPN technology – something that it hopes will enable it to take on RIM’s domination, but also to play where Nokia and Microsoft might expect to have a strong market understanding.

    So that’s a quick round-up of Sunday evening’s news from three major device manifacturers – today everyone else gets their turn. On the official programme look for the GSMA taking the wraps off WAC in the middle of the day. Ericsson is holding its press event in the morning, and Huawei’s networks division will have some RAN and mobile broadband news as well. Somewhat unusually, the conference programme is holding the big guns in reserves, probably to get the best live audience it can across the globe. Steve Ballmer is doing his stuff at 4pm, and Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, is on at 5pm. Off-diary, we’ll be bringing you as much news as we can from across the breadth of the conference – always looking for the stories that have the most relevance to the mobile operator business.