With a show the size of Mobile World Congress, it seems only right that the biggest name in technology – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – delivered the first big headline keynote.Few things can prepare you for the scale of MWC and it seems scale is what Zuckerberg wants to talk about, too.
Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp last week set tongues wagging in mobile, because it consolidates Facebook’s mobile-first strategy and illustrates that the company has $19bn spare to help push that strategy though.
It also has allowed Zuckerberg to riff on the idea of connecting more and more people to the internet, and he was keen to talk about the goals of internet.org – his foundation – during the keynote.
Talking to journalist David Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg drew attention to the fact that roughly two-thirds of the world’s population currently have no access. And while his motives to improve that are pretty worthy – he quoted a study that found internet connections create jobs and decrease child mortality – the fact that the acquisition of WhatsApp sparked this discussion shows you just how ambitious Zuckerberg is to be the go-to provider of connected services around the world.
Zuckerberg says data efficiency is the key – this time last year the average Facebook user used 14MB of data a day. Today it is 2MB, and that kind of efficiency makes it cheaper to deliver services to less-developed territories.
The other main newsflash from Zuckerberg’s keynote? The NSA revelations are “not awesome”.
Some of today’s other big news is along a similar theme (mobile in emerging markets, not internet snooping) – handsets designed for the developing world, where smartphones aren’t yet the norm. Nokia, after settling down under Microsoft’s umbrella, has launched a series of budget Android phones – the Nokia X, X1, and X. But they don’t look like Android phones – Nokia has taken the open-source OS and added a skin to it that makes it look and function rather like the Windows Phone OS.
The BBC quoted analysts who called it a “perplexing strategic move”. Gadget magazines seemed unimpressed with the specifications and functional compromises, and noted the new devices look rather like the company’s flagship Lumia devices. So what are Nokia playing at?
Well, the skin for Android on these devices directs people not to Google’s services, but to Microsoft’s equivalents such as Skype, OneDrive, and outlook.com. The company is piggy-backing on Android’s intimidatingly huge presence and encouraging users to use Microsoft’s services, rather than Google’s.
And by making it look like a Windows Phone, it could be a “feeder” strategy, to eventually lead people to the Windows OS, once they’re hooked into the Microsoft suite of services.
Is this a smart long-term strategy or an act of desperation? And either way, will it work? It might take a while for this one to play out, but it certainly looks like Android has knocked some stuffing out of WP for now.
So, with day one and Mr Zuckerberg out of the way, we’re joining the thousands of execs who are leaving the convention for today and decamping to the many parties going on in Barcelona. Perhaps we’ll see some of you there.
And if you’d like to talk about how your business can explore mobile, get in touch with us at Yodel Mobile