Ring! Ring! Hot News, 11th February 2008

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Telco 2.0 comes to you from the Mobile World Congress ... sorry ... 3GSM this week; not only were we covering the news but we were part of it, but that's another story.

A big theme in the news this week was mobile Linux; Orange joined the LiMo Foundation, the outfit Motorola ginned up to boost open-source operating systems on shiny gadgets. Azingo, an Indian software house that markets a LiMo-compliant Linux distribution and developer kit, was showing off some of the unexpected capabilities of the technology.

Specifically, using a Broadcom reference gadget running their system, they were successfully using Nokia S60 widgets on a device that was neither a Nokia nor a Symbian S60 platform; we're not sure if this is fantastic or scary. Which one depends whether you work in the S60 or Maemo Linux groups at Nokia, presumably.

Across the way, Access's mobile Linux was attracting a lot of attention; after all, the reason why Orange is joining LiMo is that they are on the point of launching an Access-powered device. While Azingo was running Nokia widgets on their Linux, Access has created a virtual machine in theirs that lets you run all your old PalmOS stuff next to both Eclipse Java apps and native C. Which suggests they can probably run S60 apps, too.

All these developments suggest Linux is taking large steps towards spreading into mass market handsets. Together with Google's Android, the future is inching towards open mobile platforms that can embrace, extend and extinguish proprietary rivals.

Just to add spice to it, Nokia was giving away devices with mobile Linux operating systems; we won't say which Telco 2.0 team member and master tech-blagger snagged the swag. But we will say that Telefonica and IBM get 'open'; the Spanish incumbent was showing off a fascinating new suite of services for enterprises, including a mobile identification/authentication service with...yes...a Web services API, out-of-band authentication by WAP PUSH message, and cryptographic security based on the SIM card. "Mobile Signature" uses an arbitrary user ID, so it could be used to authenticate almost anything, including multiple anonymous aliases.

Then there's "Mundo Maquina", their formidable machine-to-machine platform for doing things like monitoring the movement of shipments; taking the two together, Telefonica looks like it's making a dead-set at at least two of the key horizontal platform capabilities we identified for the 2-Sided Business Model.

We won't say, however, which super-vendor's stand included this not-so-impressive feature on "Enabling Business Mobility"

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Perhaps they could do with some Telco 2.0 consulting?

The importance of finding a new business model has never been clearer; EU Commissioner Viviane Reding used the conference to blast roaming charges again, saying they should be only "marginally" greater than home rates. The BlackBerrying operator delegates shuddered a hearty amen to that one, before losing sleep over their sick cash cow.

IBM Research, meanwhile, demonstrated an application using telco location data and Web services to link delegates and taxis; it bore an astonishing likeness to some of the case studies we've prepared for the 2-Sided Platforms report, to say the least. They're using IMS, but the system isn't IMS-specific; they're also pouring resources into SDPs, a core Telco 2.0 technology.

GSMA boss Craig Ehrlich was talking hands across the water with the CDMA world; more realistically, Verizon appears to be the latest carrier to sign up to LTE. Well, everyone always says boxing was better before all the alphabet soup governing bodies appeared. Perhaps the CEOs of Qualcomm and Ericsson could duke it out in a unification bout for the title of undisputed heavyweight champion of the world? While we're talking radio networks, Orange and T-Mobile UK announced the launch of their mobile-TV service using NextWave's UMTS-TDD system. This will need watching closely.

Back in the mundane world of gadgets, the differences between Nokia and Motorola's performance were painfully obvious this week; Nokia brought a whole welter of new shiny toys onto the market this week, whereas Moto's new products actually included a phone with a monochrome screen; Nokia is now putting GPS and Nokia Maps 2.0 (which looks cracking) into its low-end phones. See the difference?

And finally, after masses of conspiracy ravings about last week's Middle Eastern anchor-fade incident, FLAG's cableship reached the site of the FALCON cut and discovered....a six-tonne ship's anchor at the scene of the crime. Now there's a surprise; either that or the squid are smarter than we thought.