MWC: Android Rocked The House; Absent Apple Still In Attendance


Android dominated the buzz for this year’s event. According to some number-crunching from Webtrends, which analysis how much media outlets (from newspapers to microblogs) mention different terms, Android and Android-based devices topped the charts for the most talked-about OS and handsets; and Android also played a major role in making tablets nearly as popular as handsets at this year’s show. Following are some of my takeaways from the shows, and a look at how the Webtrend stats that match up.

For starters, it’s important to point out that while Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) had no presence at the show (except for perhaps some attendees), Apple devices were, by far, the most common devices on the floor among attendees, both in terms of the iPhone and also the iPad (the latter especially in the conference streams). Despite its lack of official involvement, Apple still generated significant buzz. And why not? If it wasn’t for Apple and Google (NSDQ: GOOG), this show might still be stuck in 2007, extolling the virtues of WiMax.

Webtrends Apple rankings: iPad was the third-most popular tablet at 19.5 percent; iPhone 4, third-most popular handset at 16.2 percent; and iOS the second-most popular OS at 20.5 percent.

Nokia. No matter whether you are a supporter or detractor of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) or Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) — even Nokiasoft if you’re so inclined — you have to admit that the companies have a huge amount of work to do in the year ahead, as they kickstart the Nokia/Windows Phone 7 smartphone relationship. Do they bite the bullet and put out a device as fast as possible this year, just to get it out of the way and get on with the real work (something people close to Nokia are advising); or will they keep us all waiting until 2012 (the original date given during the announcement two weeks ago), for a product that really brings out the best from both companies? That’s the big question, but under it lie so many more (about design, differentiation, production, chipsets, distribution, etc.).

Microsoft was at the show with a stand, but Nokia was not (save for a rather modest Qt with no Meego tablet on it — it was broken by a visitor early on). Yet Nokiasoft was probably one of the biggest topics at the show this week, the one that a lot of people were discussing — as often as not with skeptical looks.

Stephen Elop made himself the most visible smartphone CEO at the show: Launching Nokia’s new strategy the Friday before the show began; following up with a small press conference with journalists and analysts only on the Sunday; guest-appearing during Steve Ballmer’s keynote on Monday; and then his own keynote slot on Wednesday. It’s a totally new marketing approach for Nokia — the influence of their new CMO Jerri DeVard? — we’ll have to wait to see how it plays out.

Webtrends buzz rankings: Windows Phone 7: 18.8 percent; Symbian: 3.7 percent; Neither Nokia nor Microsoft were in the top-three brands — which were Samsung, Google and HTC, in that order — however two of those top three do make WP7 phones.

HP: Like Nokia, HP (NYSE: HPQ) announced its big news before Mobile World Congress. HP unveiled its new version of WebOS, two new handsets and the new TouchPad tablet, five days before the show. That probably contributed to a much lower buzz ranking than if they had done something at the show itself. HP’s new OS looks very credible and slick, and could potentially become a very powerful proposition if and when they begin to put WebOS on other devices like laptops. It’s good to have some variety on the market, too. But up to now WebOS devices have not penetrated the smartphone market in any significant share. There still seem to be some glitches on the devices themselves, too: I managed to crash the Pre3 when I tried out its video functions on the stand.

Webtrends buzz ranking: HP’s smartphones didn’t rank; the Touchpad tablet was the sixth-most-popular at 3.4 percent; WebOS was the fifth-most talked about OS (out of five) at 1.5 percent.

Other tablets: What’s really surprising, as it was with CES earlier in the year, was how strongly tablets figured in the event, considering that it was hardly a product category a year ago. Now they are nearly as popular as handsets themselves. LG (SEO: 066570) apparently had the most talked-about tablet, the Optimus Pad (aka the G-Slate in the U.S.) but that may have had something to do with the price tag leaked at the beginning of the week, reportedly around the €1,000 ($1,362); it is also the only tablet to-date with a 3G camera so that you can do your best James Cameron impression.

Others that figured in the rankings, in addition to the iPad, the Touchpad and the Optimus Pad were the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 (a 10-inch version of the existing seven-inch model, running an updated Android tablet-optimised Honeycomb on a faster processor) and RIM’s PlayBook (people curious about the device that still hasn’t launched despite RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) showing it off all the time).

All this makes you think that Nokia will have to consider a tablet device in its new OS project with Microsoft.

Webtrends buzz ranking: Tablets 47.7 percent versus Mobiles 52.3 percent. Breakdown of most popular tablets were Optimus: 29.4 percent; Galaxy Tab: 25.1 percent; iPad 19.5 percent; HTC Flyer at 11.8 percent; Playbook at 10.6 percent; Touchpad at 3.4 percent.

The full breakdown of brands here:

Read the full Webtrends report here.

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