Apple is top of mind for execs at MWC

Posted on February 18, 2009. Filed under: Apple |

iPhone maker Apple isn’t at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009 along with the rest of the mobile phone industry, but the company’s growing success is definitely top of mind for key executives in the mobile market.

The iPhone and Apple’s successful App Store got more than a passing mention on Tuesday during a panel moderated by The Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg.

The panel which included three of the most powerful CEOs in the mobile industry–Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, the second largest mobile operator in the U.S.; Olli-Pekka Kallasvu, CEO of Nokia, the world’s largest handset maker, and Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, the worldwide software leader–centered on the need for more openness to spur successful innovation in the mobile market.

But the discussion quickly devolved into the need for openness, despite the growing success of Apple, considered the most closed player in the industry.

Each executive had his own idea of what openness means and how if Apple adopted its own vision of openness it could be more successful. De la Vega and Kallasvu said fewer operating systems are needed so that developers can create applications that run on more devices.

“Customers want us to simplify,” de la Vega said. “Our corporate customers, especially, want a smaller set of operating systems to manage.”

De la Vega, whose company is the exclusive operator offering the iPhone in the U.S., even said that more openness could benefit Apple.

“The iPhone is a great success, but it would be even better if the applications were interoperable,” he said.

Kallasvu agreed. And he used Apple and its “closed” ecosystem as an example of what could limit innovation in the mobile market in the future. He said Apple’s vertically integrated model, where its hardware and software are tightly controlled by the company, further fragmented the market. And he added that what is truly needed is more openness in developing applications.

Ballmer argued that device openness was important to give customers more choices. And he pointed to the number of choices that Windows Mobile customers have when choosing a device.

“I agree that no single company can create all the hardware and software,” he said. “Openness is central because it’s the foundation of choice.”

Source: cnet


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