Mobile applications dominate GSM World Congress

The burgeoning number of mobile applications and platform operating systems look set to influence the development of the mobile market, as the GSM World Mobile Congress in Barcelona came to a close yesterday.

Experts within the digital and communications sector have voiced concerns about the number of application stores being launched – on-device storefronts that allow consumers to buy games, tools and software for their handsets.

At the congress, Microsoft unveiled a mobile operating system and applications store, Mobile 6.5, while Nokia, O2 and Orange also unveiling rival offerings.

Microsoft’s prototype phone, loaded with Mobile 6.5, was reportedly stolen from the congress yesterday, sparking fears of industrial espionage.

Nokia has signed up EA, Facebook, Fox and Lonely Planet as content providers for its Ovi mobile application store, which aims to bring together Nokia’s existing content services including download, MOSH and widget channel WidSets.

Orange is extending its Application Store trial, which will feature news, games, currency converters, sports and weather applications by integrating embedded applications into the menu system.

To run any applications on a phone you need an operating system, and as a result there is rivalry developing between platforms.

Chief executive of the Mobile Marketing Association Mike Wehrs says that it would be easier if there were just one operating system, and that brands should concentrate on stores generating the largest amount of traffic, such as Nokia, Windows Mobile and Apple iPhone.

Google’s Android platform, much talked about last year, has yet to gain a foothold, according to reports, with the only phone currently running the platform being T-Mobile’s G1.

According to reports, convergence is still a key trend within handset design, with phones featuring ever-more sophisticated functions, supported by increasingly sophisticated applications.

Vodafone’s Magic ‘entry level’ smartphone – with touch-screen interface, a built-in music player and three-megapixel camera – was one such example shown at the fair.

The mobile industry has also made moves to show more awareness of sustainability, with the announcement of a universal charger that will eliminate the need for a new charger with every phone.

LG and Samsung exhibited solar-powered handsets.

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