Hot tips for mobile future from Barcelona

2012-02-27 08:33

Barcelona from the old to the ultra modern and a few tips for the future

Just to get you a little envious – try spending the weekend in Barcelona taking in some of the breathtaking sites, like Antoni Gaudi’s Cassa Battlo to the beautiful Mediterranean port of Olimpica and the old Gothic Quarter of Barcelona – sublime! The city has much to offer for all interests and the food, well that is a discussion for a much longer blog post than this one, but let me just say “majestuoso”.

From this, to be thrust back into the work reality that is Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the reason I am in Barcelona, is a stark contrast. Starting Sunday evening with the Showstoppers event, (outside of the official MWC) is an annual gathering of “smaller” companies wanting to take advantage of us media types being here for MWC.

Some of the more interesting to catch my eye were: FriendCaller, a Skype knock off, but with a difference. FriendCaller provides the ability to use group video chat as a free service not only on your PC but also on you smartphone or tablet. This is currently only available to Skype premium users. FriendCaller currently claims a user base of over 6.5million people. Another even bigger differentiator, is that offers you the ability to “earn” airtime, for want of a better word, by accepting marketing offers on its site. This airtime can then be used to call fixed or mobile phone numbers around the world, similar to the Skype credit offering. Without having tested the service myself, the proposition is quite compelling and I will certainly be giving it a try.

Two competing companies sited next to each other at the event, provided some interesting fodder - Liquipel and HzO offer a water protection for electronic devices: tablets, smartphones and even iPods. Hz O had an appealing demonstration with a tissue covered in the protective coating. I am sure you have all seen what happens when a tissue gets wet? Well this one did nothing when I dipped the corner in water or went further and pushed the entire tissue into the water. It felt like a tissue, looked like a tissue but it just wasn’t.

This has massive implications for the tech industry, as water damage has been a bugbear for consumers (and insurers) for a long time. Having seen an iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S2 and an iPod all work underwater with the HzO coating this amazing product is set to be a vital life raft.

Liquipel’s differentiator though is that their coating can be installed/coated after the fact. Well I am not sure that I would pay for it to be done if I had bought a device as I have never been one to drop my phone in the loo, although I know plenty of people who have!

Moving on from ShowStoppers we took the Metro across town to the Palau Sant Jordi, which was a key venue for artistic

gymnastics for the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona, for the big event of the evening, the first Sony Mobile Communication press event at MWC ever. (Until about two weeks ago it was Sony Ericsson with the final purchase of Ericsson’s share in the business having just been completed.)

Sony launched two new devices: the Xperia U and the Xperia P. I am not sure who came up with these name but they are follow-on devices for the Experia S. The new CEO and President of Sony Group, Kazuo Hirai, made an appearance which underlines Sony’s serious intentions in the mobile space.

The Experia S is like the dad of the group and the U, the ugly duckling with a 3.5inch “reality” display and the P as the petty older brother, with a 4inch qHD screen. I am sure this is not what Sony wanst to hear, but this is my honest first impression. But these devices do have their place let’s not get that wrong, as they will come into the market at lower price points.

Hirai took to the stage speaking of the “One Sony” concept and that is the convergence of all its business areas. A worthwhile endeavor but surely a tricky one nonetheless, but it makes a huge amount of sense when you combine the mobile business, audio visual, personal computing businesses with its entertainment offering, with music and movies (successful movies considering the more than 20 Oscar nominations).

Hirai announced that the key is for Sony to rebuild its electronics business and hinted that innovation would be a strong part of this re-engineering process.

Key to the success in its new now solely owned mobile business, will be the uptake of services like Music Unlimited and Movies Unlimited. Not really that difficult to understand as the names make the concepts fairly clear.

Whether or not the appointment of a new CEO, new product and direction will be enough to turnaround a business, remains to be seen especially with the looming likelihood of a USD$2biilion loss (projected currently) for its 2012 financial year end.

Now time for some rest before the actual madness of MWC begins tomorrow in earnest.

hasta luego

Bradley

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