MWC Preview: The championing of open-source and mobile services

At Mobile World Congress, handset vendors, software companies and operators alike will continue to plunge into a future in which the devices consumers carry provide more fully-integrated web, multimedia and social networking services, despite strong economic headwinds, analysts predicted.

It has been true for some time that an increasingly large percentage of wireless carriers' revenue comes from mobile data usage. The proliferation of open-source operating systems, and more complex applications and services will likely feed into that dynamic. John Jackson, vice president of research for CCS Insight, said while questions about the efficacy of value-added services will likely be brought up, he expected a whole host of announcements out of the show about services--video, music, location--based services and social networking, as part of what he called a "massive theme." But Jackson himself raised many questions that will have to be resolved? "Who's going to pay for it? Operators? End users?" he asked. "Who?"

The fate of Microsoft's mobile strategy will also be debated. Frank Dickson, vice president of mobile Internet research for In-Stat, said a fundamental question will be: What is Microsoft's response to the open-source OS craze epitomized by Google's Android platform?

"A really good response from Microsoft could change the dynamics in the industry. If its an evolutionary refinement of their existing platform, I'll be disappointed. They have to do something that's impressive, that'll shake up the industry," he said. "They need to be able to create an ecosystem. And given all the tools they have to do that, they should be able to do that better than anyone."

Google came out with a roadmap for Android, its development and a plan to monetize it through advertising, Dickson said. "It was compelling" he said. "Microsoft needs to come out with something that's compelling."