MWC2013 round-up: day 1

Francesco Radicati/Informa Telecoms and Media
26 Feb 2013

Telefonica announces launch plans for Firefox OS
Telefonica made the first big splash of this year’s Mobile World Congress with the announcement of the Mozilla Firefox mobile operating system, which it will launch in Latin America and Spain from mid-2013. The company is lining up behind the open ecosystem, which it believes is the way to “bring balance back to the telco sector”, in CEO César Alierta’s words.

“[This year] marks the start of a new phase in our industry, one that will be characterized by open standards,” said Alierta. “For Telefónica and the telco sector as a whole, Firefox OS is a hugely important strategic initiative to change the prevailing value chain in the digital world.”

Sixteen other operators have also backed the new OS, including America Movil, Telenor and KDDI. The focus is currently on emerging markets, where smartphone penetration is still low – the operators are hoping that the open ecosystem will allow them to offer smartphones more cheaply, without having to subsidize expensive devices like Apple’s iPhone. In addition, the hope is that using Firefox will allow the operators to access the applications and services market that the existing ecosystems dominate.

Facebook partners with 18 operators for free access to Messenger and Every Phone
Facebook has also continued its march to dominate mobile by partnering with 18 operators, spread among 14 countries, to offer free or discounted access to its Messenger and Facebook for Every Phone services. Most of the operators are in emerging markets, such as Thailand, Bahrain or Brazil, while its partners in more developed markets such as Ireland or Italy tend to be challenger operators. This move should help it increase its reach among subscribers, and consequently generate greater revenues from advertising.

Huawei leaps from the starting blocks
Another big announcement was from Chinese handset vendor Huawei Device, which revealed that it earned global sales revenue of $7.5 billion in 2012, up 10% over the previous year, on the back of 127 million devices shipped. Smartphone shipments meanwhile grew 60% to 32 million handsets, out of a total of 52 million.

To build on this result, Huawei is also launching a global brand awareness campaign, called “Make It Possible”, marking the brand’s emergence as a competitor to other vendors such as Apple or Samsung. It will be rolled out around the world throughout 2013, and builds on Huawei’s activities in 2012, which saw it establish over 5,000 retail counters in more than 45 countries.

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