Mobile World Congress Focuses on Cloud Technology, Social Networking

Device independence is the buzzword, with 24 telecoms involved in launch of the Wholesale Applications Community.


BARCELONA -- Amidst heated competition between Google and Apple -- with Microsoft throwing its hat into the ring -- attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are wrestling with how consumers can access the same content across a number of mobile devices and not be restricted by the barriers of specific operating systems or devices.

Keynote speakers and industry announcements show the sector's eagerness to find solutions.

"Consumers are not concerned or preoccupied about which access medium they use -- mobile, fixed or Wi-Fi," said AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson.

As LTE networks become available, the cloud becomes a reality and the overall technology matures, the customers' expectation for an open and seamless environment is only going to increase."

AT&T was one of 24 telecoms -- including Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Telefonica -- to announce the launch of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) at the congress as a kind of worldwide application store available to 3 billion customers, independent of their operating system or mobile device.

Telefonica CEO Cesar Alierta at a keynote Tuesday called for greater engagement between the telecoms and content provider to ensure consumers a smooth, satisfying experience. But he also called on content providers to start contributing towards the investment needed.

The "cloud," technology designed to help simplify making content available on wireless devices across barriers, has emerged as one ofthis edition's key words -- along with social networking.

Digital content services company NewBay revealed at the mobile eventi ts LifeCache Digital Vault, which provides music, photo and video cloud services for operators and device makers.

Digital Vault means users no longer need to be restricted by proprietary music clients like iTunes to listen to their music collections they have purchased. Users can now copy their online purchases and CD collections to the cloud and listen to them from any connected computer, mobile handset, tablet or TV.

"Think about the simplicity of this type of service. Automated backup of your music collection to the cloud combined with the ability to stream music to any connected device. Consumers can now enjoy music, photos and videos whenever, wherever they want," said David Manzor, senior product manager at NewBay. "NewBay LifeCache presents an enormous business opportunity for operators and device makers to giveusers the cloud content services they want."

But for Shubh Agarwal, vp of marketing at Mavenir Systems, cloud-based applications and services offer global reach, device independence,l arge scale growth and lower technical obstacles, but tend to belargely non-real-time services, a hindrance for social networking.

"Real-time systems, such as voice, text, instant messaging and video communication applications have strict constraints on response time,"according to Agarwal. "Mobile operators that embrace [Maverin's] Mobile Cloud Services will deliver new services, establish new business models, generate new revenues streams and manage the costs oftheir legacy services."

The GSM Mobile World Congress runs through Thursday.