The weeks before the Mobile World Congress are either a rollercoaster of leaks or they embody the expression "the calm before the storm". The second week of February historically seems to have been mostly the latter, with events that foreshadow major shifts in the tech world.
Our look back at the headlines this time is infused with a dose of sadness, as well-liked platforms waned while up-and-coming platforms struggled for relevance.
Last week, we rolled back to the beginning of the end for Symbian, and now we look at Nokia's other platforms.
In the third week of February 2010, Microsoft officially unveiled Windows Phone 7. We'll cover that in more detail in the next edition of Counterclockwise, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Nokia officially embraced monogamy, just a couple of days after Stephen Elop's famous Burning Platform memo.
This seemed rather hasty as Nokia had only 3D renders of a WP7-powered phone and no actual device, at what was a disappointing MWC event. Basically, for most of 2011 the biggest phone manufacturer in the world had no viable smartphones as Symbian was swiftly put on its deathbed by the Windows Phone announcement (the Lumia 800 was announced in October).
Not that Symbians of 2011 could successfully compete with the iPhones and Androids of the day. And then it got worse – rumor started going around that the MeeGo-running Nokia N9 might never become commercially available.
Luckily, that rumor was false. But this was the last time MeeGo was lucky.
While Microsoft was gearing up for the Windows Phone launch, something potentially disastrous happened – Samsung announced the Wave, its first Bada-powered phone.
Granted, Samsung wasn’t as powerful then as it is now, but this definitely stole some of Microsoft's thunder, especially since the software giant had no OEM partners yet – Nokia's decision was still a year away.
Bada saw a couple of iteration of Wave phones, but as Android drove Samsung to the top, the alternative OS waned. Later, as Nokia abandoned MeeGo, the Linux-based OS underwent another metamorphosis and turned into Tizen – a collaboration between Nokia's former partner Intel and Samsung.
Tizen was to replace Bada in Samsung's lineup, but the OS is currently on version 3.0 and we've seen no phones with it yet, not one. At this point, Tizen is just vaporware, but judging by Samsung's invites to this year's MWC, the years of waiting are over.
While we're on the topic of platforms that shot for the stars and failed, we should mention webOS. Current OSes owe it a great debt – webOS married the concepts of the card-based multitasking and gesture-based UI into one of the most innovative UIs ever.
HP, having acquired Palm, unveiled the HP Pre 3 and the budget Veer, but the writing was on the wall.
In February 2012, we saw leaked screenshots of the upcoming (and oft delayed) BlackBerry OS 10. As BlackBerry (formerly RIM) is bleeding market share, we're starting to think the second week of February is cursed. Here's hoping Windows Phone avoids this hex.
While Nokia showed up empty-handed at the 2011 MWC event, Samsung brought the Galaxy S II. Sure, the Galaxy S was the progenitor of the line but it was a reactionary phone – Apple's iPhone caught the whole industry off-guard and everyone scrambled for an answer.
Samsung had already begun tinkering with Android with the Galaxy S, but it took it up a notch with the S II and TouchWiz.
It wasn’t just the S II either, Samsung also brought the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to the event. The Galaxy tablets don't have the leading position of the Galaxy phones, but Samsung is grinding away at the problem and the tide may be turning.
While rummaging through our archives, we stumbled on Modu. In 2009 the company announced the launch date for its modular phones that it showed at MWC 2008.
Modu never made it big, but the moment we saw the old news we instantly thought "Project Ara!" This project originated at Motorola and stayed with Google after the Lenovo acquisition and promises to revive the modular phone concept.
Ara will feature much more advanced modules though – Modu's early attempts featured just two modules (the phone and a case), but Ara will let you change things like the camera or the screen separately.
awesome i really like this. cell phones
Modular? I read somewhere that Moto is going at it again in the near future, though modulars are a lot like desktop PC these days... upgrading is very expensive than buying a flagship, IMHO
To replace their feature-phone lineup (eg. Asha devices).