Allan Isfan is a co-founder of FaveQuest, a young start-up. This blog covers start-up topics.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


TOUCH me, I'm Sexy: Mobile World Congress Theme

I just attended the Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona and the clear main theme was: TOUCH me, I'm sexy.

Take a look at this picture very quickly.

What do you think it is? Yes, you are correct, it is the new LG Arena with the 3D S-Class UI. You didn't think it was an iPhone did you?

Then there is Samsung's new "TOUCH", at first look, very similar to the iPhone.

There's also Microsoft Mobile 6.5 (out second half of the year) which is sporting an apple style icon based touch screen (demo of 6.5 appeared really buggy ... shocking, I know). I can go on and on. This year's Mobile World Congress was definitely about sexy touch screen apple killers.

I was unimpressed by nearly all of them (didn't play with the Palm Pre) but I did find one exception: the Nokia N97 coming out in June. At 520 Euro, not for the faint of heart but it certainly looks to be very capable with many smart usability features, slim formafactor, touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard.

You've heard of the iPhone App store right? Google had already recently announced an app store for mobile devices using their Android operating systems. Well, Nokia and Microsoft both announced their own equivalent stores at the show (Nokia's OVI Store, Microsoft's Windows Mobile Marketplace) and there are several others ones as well. These app stores are a real boon to entrepreneurs allowing many of to finally easily play in the mobile space. Though app stores are not new, they are a big deal.

This is the first time at Mobile World congress that I don't detect any true innovation or NEW theme. In years past it was the hope of WiMax, or femtocells, LTE and so on. This year, all of these themes remain but the clear one theme is "I want to be an iPhone" and very few phones come close, even if their features on paper beat apple by a long shot (better camera, FM radio, Flash, copy and paste ...). It shocks me that people forget that usability is king in this space, not features.

Having said this, there is something VERY interesting brewing under the covers. Check out my next post on that story.



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