MWC 2010 Scorecard: Mobile content

Whose profile is rising? Application developers
If there was one dominant trend weaving its way throughout most of Mobile World Congress 2010's headline news announcements and on-site events, it was the efforts of mobile industry superpowers to simplify the work of the growing ranks of developers. For starters, this year's event heralded the introduction of App Planet, a series of platform-specific application development conferences taking place throughout the week. Each conference (headlined by the likes of Google, Research In Motion, Vodafone, Sony Ericsson and Motorola) focused in-depth on subjects like tools, guidance, go-to-market knowledge and community support. RIM even announced a new WebKit-based browser, with co-CEO Mike Lazaridis also expounding on what he calls "Super Apps"--contextual applications integrated into core phone functions that BlackBerry users access all of the time, such as their email inbox.

In addition, more than 24 operators and two manufacturers announced plans to come together to make it easier for developers to create applications across multiple networks. Called the Wholesale Applications Community, the initiative--organized just hours prior to the kickoff of Mobile World Congress by the GSMA--calls on members to create a wholesale applications ecosystem as well as to harmonize various developer organizations to forge a single point of entry for coders to program software optimized for operator networks everywhere.

Nokia and computing giant Intel also appealed to developers with the announcement they will combine their respective Maemo and Moblin efforts into one Linux-based software platform, MeeGo, that will be open to other manufacturers. Specifically, the companies said MeeGo, on the Qt application development environment, will allow developers to write one application, sell it through either Nokia's Ovi Store or Intel AppUp Center, and be confident it will run on any MeeGo device.

Whose profile is falling: Mobile entertainment
Two years after Hollywood icons Robert Redford and Isabella Rossellini touted the promise of mobile filmmaking, and just 12 months after two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey headlined the Mofilm Short Film Festival, the annual Mobile Backstage conference-within-a-conference went on hiatus at Mobile World Congress 2010--instead, the mobile media landscape was relegated to a series of lower-profile keynotes and sessions, highlighted by Wednesday's Mobile Entertainment & Lifestyle presentation.

While the industry's paradigm shift away from conventional entertainment to more interactive and immersive applications is responsible for the diminished emphasis on mobile media, Nick Rhodes--keyboardist for pop icon Duran Duran and one of the event's keynote speakers--admitted that some of the blame lies with artists, who've been slow to embrace the full possibilities of the mobile platform. Rhodes--currently at work on a new Duran Duran album--said artists have yet to fully engage with mobile media: "We've gotten into ringtones and clips, but we haven't gotten into integrated 3G systems and using technology to its best," he said. "Artists are saying the mobile audience is even bigger than the online audience, but we haven't fully used this communication system."

Rhodes nevertheless noted his interest in emerging mobile technologies like augmented reality, and said Duran Duran is looking to collaborate with mobile solutions providers on some upcoming projects. "We're happy simply to provide content, but we're also interested in working with people to push technology forward," Rhodes explained. "It's a brave new world out there. You try things. My view has always been, 'Don't be afraid to try something new.'"

Hollywood producer Jon Landau was more effusive, albeit less definitive, in his assessment of mobile entertainment's progress: "Mobile has a bright future ahead," said Landau, currently riding high thanks to his work co-producing director James Cameron's megahit "Avatar."

"The film industry has the ability to reach millions," Landau said. "The mobile industry has the ability to reach billions."

MWC 2010 Scorecard: Mobile content