Live: GSMA keynote – Moving towards an open mobile ecosystem

worlg.jpgWe’re live at the GSMA World Mobile Congress where we’re about to see what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia chief Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo have to say about the future of mobile development. President of AT&T Ralph de la Vega will also be speaking at the event, which will examine how the World’s most advanced companies can open up the mobile ecosystem.

12:30 – Again Steve talks about Windows as an open platform, highlighting the fact that the company has needed to create many partnerships to address the issues of security, usability and interoperability. He sites the current example of the new Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phones that were announced yesterday as an example of how Microsoft is working with devices and operators to achieve innovation. He concludes by reassuring the congress that “no matter what goes on with the global economy, technology is on a forward, upward, and exciting curve.”

12:23 – Steve echoes Olli-Pekka’s comment that no single company can create everything that’s needed to achieve mobile innovation. He stresses the need for tech companies to work together to assemble powerful solutions for customers. The companies that succeed will be open companies, whether that’s in terms of open source, open platform or open standards. Steve’s really keen to make Microsoft sound open. He points out that MS has benefitted 100,000s of companies in the software and hardware world. According to him, for every dollar that Microsoft makes, other tech companies will make $18 as a direct result.

12:15 – According tio Steve consumers now want their work lives and their home lives to be converged. PCs, phones and TVs will be the key factors in ensuring that users are always in touch with all their data. We’re seeing the development of more natural user interfaces and technologies such as touchscreen, speech recognition and handwriting input. Pretty soon the need for a personal secretary will go, and you PC or mobile device will be able to respond to your voice commands and take care of all your tasks and schedules for you.

12:13 – Steve says that “optimism should not be scaled back” despite the global financial downturn. He believes that the power of ideas and innovation should be used to drive the industry forward. More than 3 billion people now use a mobile phone and the number of these people who are using smartphones will increase drastically in the coming years.

12:10 – Steve Ballmer is up now and the tension hots up. Ballmer begins by charting the incredible changes that have happened in technology in the last 25 years and how PCs, the Internet and phones have changed the way people do things. He brings up the subject of the financial crisis, which he calls the ‘economic reset’. He says that this must not, and will not stop the growth of innovation, and that openness is needed in order to deliver greater value to customers in these times.

12:08 – The Nokia chief admits that times will be tough during the current financial climate, but that the mobile industry is in a strong position. He points to mobility as a “positive factor for change in people’s lives”. He calls on the mobile community to nurture an ecosystem that will be long and prosperous, pointing out that no one company is big enough to do this on its own. Partnering will be crucial and companies must have the courage to break from convention.

12:03 – The subject switches to the Symbian platform, which Ollie picks out as an example of an open innovation to improve the mobile ecosystem. The platform, he says, is “the only truly open and mature mobile operating system”. Stat attack: 4 million developers working on apps for the platform; 250 million Symbian devices shipped. As such, he points out that its a great platform for development, especially now Symbian is becoming more open.

11:59 – Now we’re told how Nokia is leading the way in open innovation thanks to solutions such as its Beta Labs and Nokia Pilot, which allow the development community to give feedback about Nokia software before it goes live, and to share ideas with the rest of the community. Ollie goes on to talk about the growth of the mobile industry in China, India and in Africa, and how Nokia is helping to push affordable devices and services into these areas. An example he gives is the Life Tools product, which offers a very cheap solution for Africans who want to check weather, crop prices and use educational tools.

11:57 – Ollie stresses that the mobile industry must be more open to change. He says that should extend beyond open source and open standards to what he calls ‘open innovation’. Mobile companies need to be sharing resources and tapping into each others’ technologies to develop mutually-beneficial relationships. He points out that the first people to cast doubt on these kind of ideals are the lawyers, who raise concerns over protection of intellectual property. As a lawyer himself Ollie says he is optimistic though and affirms: “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

11:54: According to Ollie, most people connecting to the Internet for the first time now do so on a mobile device. Nokia, and others in the industry must address how, when and where users connect, making this process as easy as possible.

11:52 – Ollie bigs up the importance of Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T as some of the most important companies in the World. He reassures us that the financial crisis will eventually end. Mobility continues to be a positive thing for the World.

11:51 – Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo now takes the stage.

11:49 – Ralph talks about Mosaic, an AT&T product that allows user to preview multiple windows of channels carrying the same kind of content (cartoons, news, etc.) Looks pretty cool.

11:46 – Flexible business models needed. Islands of innovation will develop around app stores, separate devices and OSs. We must remember that devices need to be connected. Data and apps must be connected too. We must address this problem quickly. We need to create an environment where technology converges, such as TV, PC and mobile.

11:44 – Apps must work across platforms, OSs and devices. Last year there was a call for fewer operating systems. Now there are actually more. We need to realise that their will not be less OSs. Standards-based APIs needed to lower the barriers for software developers. The Bondai initiative could be a way of doing this.

11:42 – So what’s the solution? Firstly, customer security is key. Peopleshould know how the data is being used. Users do not stop to think how much personal data is on their mobile phones. Customers should feel confident that their data is safe. Industry must agree on standards for security.

11:39 – Ecosystem is getting more and more complex. There are 9 major operating systems and 610,000 software developers programming in different languages. Risks of not working together are fewer applications, difficulty in costs, bandwidth could be compromised, lower sales if apps do not work properly.

11:36– Now its about data and applications. Challenge is to connect customers to apps regardless of platform, app store or carrier.We now have islands of applications that need to be merged. More than half of AT&T customers are downloading at least one app a week.

11:32 – Ralph talks about what makes mobile ecosystems work. He uses the history of SMS as an example of closed ecosystem in the US. Previously, SMS was only available within one carrier. Operators learned that they should allow interconnectivity between carriers and established relationshipswith each other to let anyone send SMS to each other. This resulted in a skyrocketing in SMS messaging.

1130 – First speaker Ralph de la Vega hits the stage.

11:26  – Walt Mossenberg of the Wall Street Journal arrives on stage. The session will deal with the magic word ‘open’. Walt admits that he’s previously referred to mobile operators as ‘Soviet ministries’, dictacting what was available to consumers. In other words he’s all about openness.

11:08 – Waiting for the speakers to come on stage now. It’s pretty busy in here.

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