The Mobile World Congress began today in Barcelona. MWC is the trade show for mobile devices and is where most companies will introduce their new phones. Motorola announced several new Android based devices and Microsoft showed of Windows Phone 7 Series, its new mobile operating system. Sony Ericsson, HTC and other companies also show new wares.
Motorola is on a tear. They have introduced many new devices over the last few months, including the highly desirable Droid from Verizon. Today, they showed of the Quench with Motoblur. Motoblur is Motorola’s very cool user interface that integrates the social networks into one, central display. Its a nifty front end to things like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other such services. The device itself, frankly, looks like many of Moto’s more recent devices-which is not a bad thing. Motorola has really stepped up its game and is releasing some nice devices. Quench will be named Cliq XT here in the States and Quench elsewhere. T-Mobile will be the exclusive carrier here. It will feature Adobe Flash Lite and run the Android operating system.
Microsoft showed off Windows Phone 7 Series, the successor operating system to Windows Mobile. Hoping to shed the negative connotations that ‘Windows Mobile’ brings along, Microsoft started from scratch. The new operating system was built new, from the ground up, making it incompatible with the previous generation of Windows Mobile. While this may sound bad, it is really a good thing. One of the problems that Windows Mobile had, is actually one of the problems that desktop Windows has: legacy compatibility. Having to keep the operating system compatible with previous gens, means you have to maintain legacy code and can limit what the operating system can evolve into since it can’t break that compatibility. With WP7, Microsoft pulled an APPLE and discarded years of compatibility in favor of a new, fresh start. Everything about WP7 is new, including the user interface. If you have a Zune HD, you pretty much already know what the user interface looks like. There are differences, of course, but, for the most part, the UI is the same. In fact, WP7 IS Zune. Rather, each WP7 phone is a Zune. You will be able to sync your movies, music, video and photos with your WP7 using the Zune PC software. Zune functionality is heavily integrated into the OS.
WP7 also has tight integration with the XBOX Live service AND will be able to play some of Lives’ online games. No announcement about those games was made and not many details were discussed about this integration. Microsoft wants to talk more about this at the MIX conference later this year.
WP7 also features-because this is Microsoft-tight integration with Office, presumably Office 2010. Perhaps the most exciting part of this integration is the OneNote functionality and the cloud syncing. Once the cloud infrastructure is complete, after Office 2010 I am guessing, the devices will be able to sync to your computer and/or the cloud.
Of course, there is the social networking features, which look similar to Motorola’s MotoBlur. The browser is also updated, but still based on Internet Explorer. Why, Microsoft, why? Sigh.
The most exciting thing, for this writer anyway, to come out of all of this is the fact that the Zune will be going international. Microsoft says that Zune will go where ever WP7 goes. They already have many European companies lined up for WP7, so, presumably, Zune will follow. Good news for the Zune platform. It does, however, remain to be seen if Microsoft furthers the stand alone Zune hardware or lets it die.
The first day of MWC has revealed many great new products in the mobile world and the next few days should be just as exciting. Both Motorola and Microsoft are doing great things in the space-finally. It is good to see such worthy competition to the now tired iPhone and Blackberry lines. Stay tuned for more.