Mobile World Congress trends: applications thrive, mobile operators join forces

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The Independent Tech

Announcements made during the 2010 GSMA World Mobile Congress in Barcelona highlight growing trends in the mobile arena. Mobile applications are emerging as the major topic of conversation as mobile operators and handset makers band together in hope of succeeding in the cut-throat industry.

Dominant mobile industry players once considered to be at the forefront of innovative mobile technology have seen their market share slide over the last few years as consumers are wooed by new and improved smartphones that can do and be everything their owners want them to be.

For many, the arrival of Apple's flagship mobile device and the resulting growth of its thriving App store marked the beginning of the smartphone revolution that has left mobile industry leaders struggling to compete.

In the midst of the raging smartphone handset war, mobile applications have emerged as the next big thing. Research analyst Juniper projects revenue from mobile application sales to reach $25 billion by 2014.

Mobile manufacturers and operators are starting to realise that the only way they can supersede the already dominant applications stores run by Apple and Google's Android platforms is to join forces and pool their collective resources.

On the first day of Mobile World Congress 24 of the world's leading network providers announced they had formed an alliance that would see the creation of a "global" application store.

The alliance aims to unite the growing number of fragmented application stores and to provide their more than two billion customers with one central location from which they can download popular applications across a number of different mobile platforms.

Additional Mobile World Congress announcements saw the number of handsets running Google's open source Android platform grow. Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Dell and HTC all showed off of new Android-powered handsets that fused elements from their proprietary operating systems with the Android platform.

The widespread adaptation of Google's Android platform has largely arrived with the ever-expanding range of applications and the freedom and promising prospects of an open source platform allows software developers to create software that will run on multiple devices.

Adobe was also pushing cross-platform application development at the Mobile World Congress with the announcement of their Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR for Android and Blackberry phones.

Intel and Nokia are also set to join forces in the race to the top of the smartphone ladder, it was revealed on February 15th. The two companies will merge their Linux software platforms, Moblin and Maemo, to create a powerful operating environment called MeeGo. The platform is expected to power future generations of smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other connected devices.

Microsoft fought back with the launch of their Windows Phone 7 Series at the Mobile World Congress. The company said its next generation of Windows Phones will offer consumers a "truly integrated" mobile experience that puts web content and mobile applications at the forefront of mobile users' experiences.

It is no wonder that companies are clambering all over each other to become the top dog in the smartphone application market. Market researcher ITU says the number of mobile cellular subscriptions will reach 5 billion by the end of 2010. Those subscriptions will generate billions of additional application sales. The company or companies that can capitalize on these opportunities will come out the other end rubbing their hands together in glee.

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