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OPERATING SYSTEMS MWC 2014: Top 5 Themes WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY Mobile World Congress (MWC) is back for its second year at the new venue on Gran Via and its ninth year in Barcelona. Those of you who remember the last Cannes event in 2005 when it was still known as 3GSM have witnessed how much MWC has evolved over the last decade. Indeed, MWC 2014 will bear little resemblance to its earlier incarnations as cars, wearable technology and other connected devices increasingly dominate the showfloor. For MWC is no longer ‘just’ about mobile phones, mobile technology and networks; it also reflects how mobile is pervading other industries and areas of our lives on a massive scale. As Anne Morris reports, that will be even more apparent at this year’s event. o what can you expect to see on your walk through the eight halls of the Fira Gran Via? Below we have compiled some views from long-time visitors to MWC on what they expect or hope to see at the show. S To say that wearable technology, or plain ‘wearables’, was a dominant theme at CES in Las Vegas last month is something of an understatement, and it is inevitable that the momentum generated by new launches at that event will continue at MWC. Although MWC is not as focused on new gadgets as CES, expect to see plenty of these types of devices on the show floor. “We likely saw more wearables in Las Vegas than will be on display in Barcelona,” noted Avi Greengart, research director, consumer devices, at Current Analysis. “That said, the category is of growing importance to operators and device vendors alike, so I do expect to see plenty of wearable technology, particularly as smartphone add-ons and as part of m-health initiatives.” Kester Mann, principal analyst at CCS Insight, added that there is still a great deal of hype around wearables as well as questions about what people would actually ‘wear’ or even want. “The jury is still out,” Mann said, “but the industry is very interested.” PAGE 8 In a recent report on wearables at CES, CCS Insight noted that CES 2014 provided some clues about where this sector is heading and further underlined the importance of health and wellbeing as dimensions in wearables, “but no real breakthrough has yet been made”, the company said. Mann noted that smart watches and smart bands are among the first tier of products to be emerging that have some momentum behind them. But CCS Insight sees few compelling mass-appeal consumer use cases and applications so far. Emma Mohr-McClune, service director, global consumer services at Current Analysis, also pointed out that a major factor with wearables is that such devices and gadgets often come without a SIM card. “So what’s in it for operators?” she asked. Will OEMs start to consider how the operator could be brought into the value chain? According to Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner, there is a growing link between wearables and smartphones “as this device is still the hub for peripheral devices and the services ecosystem”. “Google has enhanced the Android platform with more APIs to enable interaction with wearables,” said Zimmermann. “It could be the time for Microsoft to show enhancements of that kind for Windows Phone.” Talk of Android and Windows Phone takes us neatly onto the next area of focus: mobile operating systems. Visitors to last year’s event will remember that Mozilla created something of a storm by unveiling Firefox OS as an alternative HTML5-based operating system for low-cost Android smartphones in emerging markets. The company said at MWC 2013 that more than 20 operators and handset vendors would support the new platform, and Spain’s Telefonica has arguably been the staunchest supporter of the Firefox OS, launching the first device based on the OS in Spain last July. In November, Mozilla said the OS was now available in 13 countries. This year’s MWC provides a good opportunity for Mozilla to announce the next step in Firefox OS development. “It’s an ideal time for an update,” said Mohr- McClune, who added that Firefox is also proving to be the best bet so far among the various operating systems that have emerged in the past year or two. Zimmermann agreed: “We could see Firefox extend to other platforms; a Firefox tablet has been rumoured for a long time,” she said. According to Greengart, the market is currently a natural duopoly between Android and Apple iOS, with BlackBerry and Microsoft fighting hard to claim distant third place. “The window for other vendors to offer mainstream alternatives has probably closed; the ecosystem costs are simply too high,” Greengart said. “Operators want more choices, but none of the alternative OSs has made a strong case for why consumers should choose them. Firefox OS is actually shipping on inexpensive hardware, but low- cost Android and Asha phones are tightly competitive.” “We should see new devices from Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Huawei, TCL, Sony and others...we may also see more devices with a curved/flexible display from Samsung and LG” Annette Zimmermann, Gartner Apart from Firefox OS, analysts tend to agree that Samsung’s Tizen operating system is most likely to offer something new in Barcelona this year: both CCS Insight’s Mann and Gartner’s Zimmermann said MWC 2014 could prove to be a belated coming-out party for Tizen on Samsung devices. Tizen itself has also indicated that there could be an update on its operating system in Barcelona this year. “Tizen may make some announcements at the show, and I look forward to seeing how it is positioned,” said Greengart. Mohr-McClune also pointed out that although iOS and Android may appear to have the market already sewn up, it has to be remembered that the mobile OS market is really not that old. “It is too early to talk of established consumer habits,” she said. MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS DAILY 2014 – PREVIEW |