GSMA Mobile World Congress? More Like GSMA iPhone World Congress…
“iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” Turns out, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was off by about two years when he made that statement in January of 2007. Looking over the announcements coming out of the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, it’s clear that many owe a debt of thanks to Apple (AAPL), whose presence is felt at the event even though it can’t be bothered to attend. Consider the rough approximation of iPhone multitouch navigation in Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 OS–now to be known simply as Windows Phone. Or Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Marketplace for Mobile, an over-the-air application bazaar similar to Apple’s App Store.
Also taking inspiration from the App Store: Nokia’s Ovi Store—a location-aware mobile storefront that peddles not just applications, but content as well. “This is not just a place to find applications,” said Nokia executive vice president Niklas Savander. “It’s a smart store. That is not just for smartphones. It actually suggests things you might like and adds social location dynamics to show you relevant applications. And it shows you what your friends have bought. And it changes the inventory based on where you are….Consumers want content that is relevant to their interests, location and the people they care about. We believe that social location is the next wave of consumer demand. The consumption of mobile media is fundamentally different from that on a PC, as it needs to be faster, easier and more appropriate. It’s not about what, but about who, where and when.”
With the “how,” apparently provided by Apple. Because much as Nokia (NOK) would like us to think otherwise, the Ovi Store appears to be little more than Apple’s App Store made location-aware and properly scaled to Nokia’s purposes. Same concept. Same developer revenue share (70 percent).
It would seem then, that the most talked about “innovations” at this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress–improved touch interfaces, app stores, new content relationships–are little more than rivals’ takes on last year’s Apple news. With the third major revision to the iPhone expected in June, that may well be the case at next year’s Mobile World Congress as well.