There was a distinct ‘Who moved my cheese’ atmosphere at MWC in Barcelona this year. The Mokia (Microsoft/Nokia) announcement last week had left several companies wondering; where their cheese had gone, why they had just forked out on a new stand and lastly, why they were there at all .

As usual Apple were conspicuous by their absence. This is the company that broke up the MWC party a few years ago by coming up with a product that the consumer couldn’t (and still can’t) get enough of whilst the rest of the industry were enjoying their licenses to print money. The GSMA, the mobile operators’ representative, took their keynote opportunity to take a swipe at Apple and Google’s ‘walled gardens’ which just seemed like sour grapes and the pot calling the kettle black.

The battle for a seat at the top table was evident all around the show. A few will succeed, many will fail, but this is the year that will shape the industry for many years to come. The Google stand certainly looked slick, with it’s own slide and massive green Android. And although  Nokia has turned its back on the Google platform, with over 20 new android devices launched at the show, it seems that others disagree with them.

It will be interesting to reflect, when the dust has settled, if the die has already been cast. Have apps already become so ingrained into the consumers consciousness that nothing else will do? Try as they may to carve their own unique user interface will the consumer identify more with their favourite apps than the make of phone or platform they run on?

If so, this may prove to be Nokia and Microsoft’s swan song and BlackBerry will be left wondering where it all went wrong and why did the kids suddenly stop using BBM (BlackBerry Messaging) and started using Twitter instead?

Of course there’s always room for differentiation, the consumer’s right to ying when others yang. This year’s show saw the launch of 3D devices, numerous tablets and a few compact case micro-phones which will all find their niches. But have no doubt the tide has turned, the money licenses now revoked, the consumer is, once again, king.

Written by: Mark Mason, CEO, Mubaloo Ltd

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