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Mobile World Congress 2011 – the changing of the guard

by Scott Bicheno on 18 February 2011, 17:39

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Huawei, ZTE

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What a difference a year makes. Before last year's Mobile World Congress I was looking forward to the PC world launching its big assault on the mobile market. Microsoft was going to show Android how to do software with Windows Phone 7 and Intel was going to put ARM in its place with Moorestown.

WP7 was duly launched, although it didn't hit the market for another eight months. Meanwhile Intel continued to give good Powerpoint on its low-power roadmap, without any commercial products to back it up. That was fine though, because the other big announcement at the show was its MeeGo platform collaboration with Nokia, which was going to get both of them back in the game.

Oh dear. That didn't quite go according to plan did it? On the eve of this year's show Nokia blinked, and unceremoniously dumped Intel in favour of Microsoft. I attended both the Nokia press event and the MeeGo pavilion, as well as breezing past the Qt stand at the show. The latter two had clearly been arranged before the big announcement.

It was a bit like when one of your mates has trodden in a big pile of dog poo. You feel for him, and sincerely hope his shoe isn't ruined, but you're also slightly contemptuous and keen to distance yourself from him, lest some of the stink rub off on you. In short, he's sullied.

So I felt a little bit ashamed taking the photo below of the Qt stand, like someone rubber-necking at a road accident, or a gatecrasher at a funeral. I'll be honest: I contemplated pulling out of the MeeGo appointment, partly to allow them the dignity of private mourning. I felt it was the least I could do.



But I did honour my appointment and, while nothing I was told could erase the immutable fact of Intel's humiliation, Intel's Mike Richmond did a very good job of a) putting a brave face on the debacle, and b) insisting there was still a future for the platform.

While there were some netbooks and tablets on show, the most promising area for MeeGo seems to be other embedded markets, such as automotive and set-top boxes. Richmond pointed out that Intel generally has a process technology advantage, and that the point of it investing in software at all is to help its customers get to market quicker, and thus better exploit this advantage. He also showed us some nice UI features for the tablet version, such as the screen below.