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The mobile Internet wars have only just begun

by Scott Bicheno on 17 September 2010, 16:27

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), HTC (TPE:2498), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)

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A frenzied fortnight of phone fun

Being a web journalist often means days on end without any professional reason to even leave the house. But over the last couple of weeks opposite has been very much the case for me, so I thought I'd share some of my findings from a frenzied fortnight of phone fun (sorry, don't know where that spasm of alliteration came from).

Last week saw the arrival of the Qualcomm juggernaut at the Science Museum in London for its annual IQ tech-fest. Among the shiny things shown off on the day were a Snapdragon development platform, Qualcomm's exciting colour display technology - Mirasol - and developments in Augmented Reality.

Being a premier supplier of mobile chips, Qualcomm saw the mobile Internet writing on the wall some time ago and has been positioning itself to offer not just chips, but other components and services too. Some, like Mirasol, seem to be taking off while others, like its Plaza mobile retail platform, seems to be on the back-burner for now. The video below features Ben Timmons - a senior exec from Qualcomm's European chip business, guiding us through some Qualcomm innovations.

The next day Google had an open-house, in which hacks are invited to Google Towers to hear about some new cleverness. This time it was the turn of mobile product director Hugo Barra, who was keen to show off some of Google's own mobile innovations. In the Q&A conversation inevitably turned to Android and tablets and he found himself fielding questions not directly related to his presentation.

Barra's admission that Android is not currently optimised for tablets caused a stir in the tech press, but as much as anything else it emphasised what demand there is for the equivalent of Windows for mobile devices.

The chances are Android is it; while iOS, BlackBerry OS, webOS, etc are designed to be used by only one OEM, Android is available to everyone. But Android is set to face the same criticisms as Windows on PCs, and for the same reason: jack of all trades, but master of none. I spoke to some prominent mobile games developers over the course of my travels this week and got the impression that Android is a lot more difficult to develop for than iOS.