GSMA 2009 Wrap-Up: Winners and Losers

The World Mobile Congress 2009 wrapped up in Barcelona this week. Despite the relatively low expectations given the world economic recession, GSMA 2009 set the tone for an exciting year in mobile developments.

  • Israeli start ups: Despite a terrible location in the basement, Israeli start ups had a strong showing with more than 46 companies in attendance.  The Israeli winners of GSMA 2009:
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      • Tjat  -after receiving the 2008 Global Mobile Award for Best Mobile Messaging Service, Tjat got attention this year for its new Server based Messaging deployment, fully Hosted by TJAT. The meaning is: no install is required – the IM is installed to the whole network, solving the device fragmentation problem. Users enjoy a feature-rich IM service  without paying for the data package.
      • We-Fi – the company that helps users find free WiFi networks is shifting its focus to mobile and has started to get some traction. WeFi was made available in Nokia’s download folder, paving its way to 100 million potential users. WeFi users can change the phone’s definitions to utilize free WiFi when available, saving money on your monthly phone bills.
      • Skuku – an interesting start up that created the Skuku Stick  – a USB device that turns your computer into your personal mobile phone once a SIM-card is inserted.  The big benefit – it allows you to make roaming calls over your computer and only pay local rates. On sale for 20 Euros.
      • Modu – after a massive round of layoffs and adjusted expectations, Modu should be happy with this year’s accomplishment. Dov Moran’s Modu will team up with speaker maker JBL,  to create the modu music jacket, a speaker with a phone capability.
  • Operating Systems: Symbian seems to be getting more traction than Android and Windows Mobile (despite the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5) for its flexibility with touch screens. Watch the Nokia highlights video
  • Phones:  Sony Ericcson presented two new phones in Barcelona: 
    • W995 – the ‘walkman’ phone, with an 8.1 megapixel camera, designed to update your Facebook profile and upload clips to YouTube. The phone can also share information with the PS3. Cnet has a good slideshow.
    • IDOU this concept phone takes features up a notch. With its 12.1 megapixel camera, 3.5 Inch wide screen, and Symbian 5 operating system, this phone could be a contender to the iPhone. 
    • the PRE – possibly Palm’s last battle, the PRE has an physical QWERTY keyboard and a touch-screen as well as lots of simply  amazing features.
    • Samsung OmniaHD – 3.5-inch display and an HD video camera that can take 40 minute clips with a 720P resolution. I can’t believe it is also a phone. 
    • Samsung also came out with UltraTOUCHBeatDJ and Samsung BeatDisc.
  • “Announcing the Announcement”–  announcing concept phones was another trend in the conference – perhaps a result of the dependence on app developers, like in the case of the iPhone or the G1. Mobile manufacturers want to give themselves six months of more to create buzz and launch with a portfolio of apps.
  • Navigation: Garmin and Asus are collaborating on nüvifone G60, the first GPS Navigation gadget to include a mobile device, enabling direct navigation to an address from SMS or email. 
  • Security: When you consider the amount of information we keep in our phones these days, it is not hard to guess that smart phone security is going to be a hot market. Russian Anti Virus maker Kapersky, opens the flood gates with Kaspersky Mobile Security 8.0. The new software protects the phone from SMS attacks, spam and trojan horses on the phone. It will be released in April.

The trends in the mobile industry for 2009  are a direct extension of last year and heavily influenced by the iPhone:

  • Convergence – mobile phones are more than just phones and have started to cannibalize other devices: mp3 players, digital cameras, video cameras, game consoles, speakers, GPS devices – are all legitimate targets.
  • Focus on touch screens (driven mainly by the introduction of the iPhone), while providing a solid text-input experience. Try typing an email on the iPhone and it will be clear why. Dasur in Israel has an interesting solution (disclosure: I’m a former member of the team).
  • Friendly user interfaces – manufacturers are spending more resources on making phones intuitive and user-friendly. It is incredible how similar the interfaces are among the different brands.
  • Apps are taking over –  the phones are as good as the developer community that supports it. 

Israeli start ups in the mobile industry are welcome to send their executive summaries to VC Cafe to receive exposure to the Israeli start up and venture capital community.

Eze Vidra
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Eze Vidra

Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote
Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Ezewas a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.
Eze Vidra
Follow me

Eze Vidra

Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Eze was a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.