MAC DIARY - Google is mobile enemy no. 1

Robert Clark
20 Nov 2009

Neither Apple nor Google were present at the Mobile Asia Congress, but rated a mention in virtually every presentation and panel.

But it was the search firm that took the honors for being acknowledged as an actual enemy of mobile.

Asked what was the biggest threat facing the industry, GSM Association CEO Rob Conway cited Google’s launch of a free web-based mobile mapping and navigation app for Android 2.0.

“When [Google] announced that, TomTom’s stock price dropped 21%, and Garmin’s stock fell 16%,” he said.

Conway said countering the “free” model will be mobile’s toughest challenge yet. “That’s a much different dynamic, and we have to understand how we think of our future when you’re looking at an ad-based free model.”

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Is this the telecom industry’s most costly ever event? The $4,200 entry price is one of the hottest topics around the MAC floor. The take-it-or-leave-it price offered no option for those wishing just to attend the conference or walk the exhibition floor, or for those here for a single day. Diary saw one punter put his wallet away when told he would have to pay the full price just to stroll the booths.

Diary dropped a note to the GSMA yesterday asking how they justified that price. We haven't heard back; it seems they can't, either.

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The other gripe was the lack of a conference program. Sure, there was a program, but it didn’t actually list the headline speakers. For four big ones, you’d at least like to know what you’re paying for.

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A shout to Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile’s well-liked honcho, who spoke and answered questions in English at the conference this week. When Diary last heard Wang speak in public a couple of years back he was sticking to putonghua. Nothing says “focus” like picking up a second language while holding down a corner office job.

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