mwc12

Welcome to your Windows Phone weekly summary! Should you have somehow been absent for the past week, fear not as we've combined this daily news recap with the stories that appeared from MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2012. So strap in, hold on tight and keep your brew at hand as this is going to be a long one!

Here at Mobile Nations (the umbrella of all our sister mobile news sites) we value our readers and any feedback provided. Should you be an active contributor at one of our communities, you'll want to take part in a survey we've got running that will enable us to further improve the on-site experience. It has also been Mobile Nations fitness Month where all mobile news sites have been tasked with showing just how smartphones (and technology in general) can help shake the Christmas pies and that unwanted bingo. Be sure to take a quick gander at our cross-community roundup. As well as the roundup, we've announced winners of our fitness month challenge (with the grand prize being a shiny new Xbox 360 and Kinect).

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The German online retailer GetGoods has published a product page for the Lumia 610, which was announced at MWC. The budget Nokia Windows Phone is priced at €199 in black, and will be reportedly available for shipping in 2-3 weeks. wpnewsflip reports that the cyan and magenta are also inbound. This follows Unlocked Mobiles in the UK, but availability is locked in for May.

Source: Getgoods.de, via: wpnewsflip, thanks Mobi for the heads up!

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Although we're in the third (and basically final) day of the Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona, we just got tipped earlier this morning that Nokia has their own Mobile World Congress app. Now there is a MWC app of sorts in the Marketplace called Mobile World Live but it's not very interesting nor of much use for those of us hustling and bustling between events (mind you, there are 60,000+ people here just for this event).

But the Nokia app, as perhaps expected, is simply amazing looking and actually useful. It's super fluid, fast, bold colors and a lot of Metro. The app allows you to view the conference agenda, venue maps offline, latest announcements from Nokia and Explore Barcelona (including how to use Scout).

The coolest feature though? The ability to submit an app request to Nokia on anything you see at the conference that you want for Windows Phone. Nokia is always big on feedback and here they're relying on end users to help crowd-source the next big thing. The fact that Nokia would consider building such an app (or working with the developers) is pretty great from our perspective.

So although we're a bit too late to take advantage of this (though others have going by the outstanding reviews) we still want to give a kudos to Nokia for it so that they make another one for next year.

If (and only if) you have a Nokia phone and still want to give it a try, grab it here in the Marketplace.

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PlayPhone adds Windows Phone support

PlayPhone Social Gaming Network announced at Mobile World Congress yesterday that they now support Windows Phone.  And in doing so, it appears to have become the first social gaming service to support all major operating systems.  PlayPhone, which already supports Android, iOS, HTML5, Adobe AIR and Unity, is an online community for multiplayer and social gaming.  It allows its 35+ million users to interact, play games and consume virtual goods in a cross-platform environment.

“Microsoft and its partners have put extensive resources toward the rapid adoption of the Windows Phone 7 platform worldwide” said Anders Evju, SVP and GM of PlayPhone.  “PlayPhone is committed to cross-platform mobile gaming. Gamers on all leading mobile devices – Android, iPhone, iPad, WP7, etc. – can jump into the PlayPhone SGN to play some of the best games out there with their friends.  We call this the PlayPhone advantage."

The PlayPhone Social Gaming Network SDK for Windows Phone is now available to developers.  Visit their website for more info.

Source: Mobile Entertainment

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This morning at Mobile World Congress, CEO of Nokia Stephen Elop commented on their recent success of announcing four new Windows Phone within one year of their famous partnership with Microsoft. He noted that they were now in 31 different markets and on 50 unique operators with increasing demand in sales everyday.

In just under a year, they've won awards for the Lumia 900, including a "Best of Show" which was a first for them and garnered high praise for the Lumia 800.

So when it came to the Lumia 710, specifically on T-Mobile which Elop pointed out was their return-device to the U.S. market, he reported with great enthusiasm that sales are "exceeding expectations" and that they are "very pleased" with its performance in the market so far. While no specific numbers were given, it appears at least that Nokia has a small hit on their hands with the Lumia 710--a device we gave high praise for--and the increasing visibility of the device e.g. LIVE! with Kelly is certainly helping too.

Quickly checking T-Mobile's page for device information, we can in fact see this being reflected. As of today, the Lumia 710 is T-Mobile's third best selling device--a level we have never seen reached for any Windows Phone in the US. Likewise, the device is in the same spot for user satisfaction with a 4.7 stars (out of 5) from 115 reviews (interestingly, the HTC Radar is number two).

The conclusion seems to be that Nokia is doing quite well with the 710 which we think is a great sign for the impending Lumia 900 on AT&T and their accompanying media campaign.

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During the latest keynote speech at Mobile World Congress, HTC's Peter Chou and Nokia's Stephen Elop had a few fun moments taking shots at each during their talks and later during the question and answer session.  In what was probably the most exciting thing to happen here since Nokia announced a 41MP camera, the two (who insist they are friends and on good terms) clearly have some tension as both compete for market share and the minds of consumers.

One area that was addressed not once but twice was Nokia's 41MP camera versus HTC's 16MP on the Titan II announced last month. Elop started first by retelling the story of Chou announcing the phone back at CES and realizing they had to break out their 41MP camera sooner than later in order to steal back the focus on camera optics. Later, Chou told a similar story of how he asked Elop what he thought about the Titan II's camera and reportedly Elop was "silent" on the matter, clearly flustered. This worried Chou that Nokia were going to hit and hit back hard (indeed they did). What made that moment extremely entertaining though was when Chou insisted on telling his version of the CES story, Elop asked if he could snap Chou's picture (with the Pure View) while doing so--clearly a fun jest and the crowd reacted appropriately with roars of laughter. Point, Nokia.

Later, Chou was asked by the moderator what he thought when Nokia reported a $250 million payment from Microsoft, clearly part of the two's partnership. Chou was fairly diplomatic on the issue saying that he thought Nokia would be help lift everyone in regards to Windows Phone but obviously the payment must have slightly perturbed him, being a Microsoft partner for over 15 years.

Chou was also modest on the chances of Windows Phone success. He thinks there's nothing wrong with the OS and it's a great system but it seemed clear from his responses that he thought Android and iOS would clearly dominate for the foreseeable future. Though he did report that their Windows Phone customsers had extremely high satisfaction ratings for their phones with very few returns, something we've reported on before.

Interestingly, both Chou and Elop agreed that the 16MP versus 41MP competition is really misguided and focused too much on specs versus the customer experience, something both companies are concerned with (Elop more so as he "hopes it's not a spec war").

All in all, watching the two smartphone heavy weights discuss the pros and cons of Windows Phone was exciting both for the tension and humorous jousting between the two companies.

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One of Mobile World Congress's keynote speeches just wrapped up and this one featured three different speakers: Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare, CEO of HTC Peter Chou and CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop. The topic was simple: Mobile OS & Applications, specifically what challenges each CEO is facing and how the mobile OS can transform technology.

Each CEO gave their take on what they do and what they are doing for the future. Crowley is concerned with data aggregation on Foursquare and how to "give that back" to the customer in a useful manner. Chou was interested in the infinite possibilities of smartphones but more importantly how to smartly managed that e.g. HTC Sense. Finally Nokia's Elop focused on three areas:

  1. Ecosystems including big apps versus local apps, with the latter being Nokia's concern. This can be seen in things like App Highlights on their phones.
  2. Location-based services e.g. filling in the "Where? equation" on smartphones. We see this demonstrated with their Drive, Maps and Transport apps
  3. How to monetize this ecosystem for the smaller developers in emerging markets

Elop's discussion was frankly much more interesting as he was laying out, in no uncertain terms, what Nokia's plans were. They see growth in the untapped emerging markets, where 60% of cell phone users do not have a smartphone yet. He reiterated once again how he thought Nokia could be a "disruptive force" in the industry with Windows Phone (versus iOS or Android) and that Nokia had a great symmetry with Microsoft in regards to software/hardware design.

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Although Microsoft didn't have any big press conferences or news releases regarding the future of Windows Phone at Mobile World Congress that hasn't stopped them from throwing a little thank you party to all of their supporters (and if you remember we gave away some ticket to the exclusive event).

Held at the famous El Molino, the event was suppose to have 400 attendees but Microsoft was expecting many more and indeed as the night went on it was certainly packed (especially on the roof). With free drinks, thumping dance music, delicious h'orderves and contests, the night was quite a blast.

Speaking of contests, Microsoft had a few last night including a Twitter/Speed contest where you had to type and post a catch phrase with hashtag as fast as you can. The fastest 10 all won a Windows Phone and even had a choice between an HTC Titan, Radar or Nokia Lumia 800. There was also the favorite "Fruit Ninja" contest where users can play the game on numerous Windows Phones with the top scorer winning a new device.

All in all it was a great time and below we have a few photos of the event just in case you couldn't make it. (Oh and we even briefly ran into one of our readers there, which was very cool).

Remember, keep track of all of our Mobile World Congress'12 news here: wpcentral.com/tags/mwc12

Head past the break for some pics...

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Mobile Nations Podcast: Mobile World Congress Day 1

Phil, Dan, Alex, and Simon talk Mobile World Congress day one, including Nokia on both Windows Phone and Symbian (biggest. Camera. Phone. Ever.), Galaxy Note 10.1, the return of the Padphone, Huawei, and yet another plethora of Android devices. Listen in! (And send food!)

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The European Lumia 900, which was announced at MWC earlier today (or yesterday for those GMT and beyond), is now available for interest registration at the Carphone Warehouse. The Lumia 900 is also going to be stocked at other retailers including Unlocked Mobiles, and sports a 4.3" AMOLED (with ClearBlack technology) display, 16GB storage, 8MP camera (with FF), 512MB RAM and a 1.4Ghz chip.

No word on the pricing as of yet, but we suspect it'll be competitive and will look to be around the £450 mark. According to the registration page, they are looking at a June 2012 launch.

Source: Carphone Warehousethanks, Richard, for the tip!

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Earlier today we called attention to new changes being brought about with the release of Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1, the release supporting 'Tango' in all it's low-end/budget glory.

We also mentioned in that article that only 5% of apps wouldn't run in the new hardware configuration, which is down to the amount of memory they utilise whilst active. However looking over this msdn page we wanted to make it crystal clear to our community that in fact there is a limitation for our new friend the Lumia 610: it won't run Background Tasks.

Specifically, generic background tasks are not supported for devices with 256MB of memory. A perfect example would be the background task used to update the live tile and cache in our own app. These types of tasks are known to developers as Periodic tasks and Resource Intensive tasks (if you want to understand the difference I recommend reading this overview). The potentially good news is that some types of background task, such as the background Audio agent which is used for playing music or podcasts after the app has been de-activated, look to be supported still.

A question therefore which I put to our readers, is this the first sign of platform fragmentation? Can we still state that "you get the same great Windows Phone experience on any handset"? Or is this a reasonable omission for the sweeter price spot?

Update: A quick clarification as some of our commenters aren't too sure, this does not affect fast app switching (part of the multitasking functionality) and nor does it affect push notifications which generate live tiles or toast messages. I'd also like to state that if apps make use of Background tasks Microsoft have provided methods for developers to identify when a "mid-tier" device is being used before trying to enable the task, thus allowing users to continue using all other features of the app in question.

Update 2: Justin Angel argues (very well) that this is not mobile fragmentation, as technically developers will write code once which can then be run on any Windows Phone platform, although developers may still be required to test for these mid-tier devices and run functions of their apps in accordance. Instead Justin suggests that this classifies as 'device differentiation', in the same way as not having a gyroscope or front facing camera in your device.

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Although overshadowed a bit by Nokia today, ZTE who earlier released the Tania has also put out the Orbit which was announced early this morning. The Orbit is yet another low-cost phone presumably for emerging markets and East Asia though the company has expressed interest in coming to the US and Europe as well.

The Orbit features a new Qualcomm processor to Windows Phone: the Qualcomm MSM7227A-1 which is described as a "low cost, low voltage" CPU for sub-$150 devices. In addition, here are the other specs just released:

  • EDGE 900/1800/1900
  • HSDPA 900/2100, DPA 7.2Mbps
  • RAM 256MB, User 4GB
  • 4-inch, WVGA (800x480), 65K colour, TFT, capacitive
  • 5MP AF/flash camera
  • GPS, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • Accelerator, compass, proximity light
  • DLNA, NFC, FOTA, HD Voice, Dual Mic, FM Radio

Interestingly the press release from ZTE notes that it has 512MB of RAM but we confirmed that this is a 256MB device as seen in our pics below. The phone has the same nice feel as the Tania including a slick chrome finish. The screen is a little washed for our liking but we're a bit spoiled with Nokia ClearBlack, Samsung Super AMOLED+ and HTC's S-LCD.

The unit we played with clearly has some work yet to be done on it, including some issues with the touch-capacitive buttons and camera (which didn't work) but we'll chalk that up to early prototype problems. Overall the Orbit is a unique phone with a custom-OEM pink Accent color. No other "custom UI" changes were noted with this review unit nor any NFC apps to take advantage of the NFC hardware that this supposedly sports.

The OS was an interesting build 8755 which probably classifies as "Tango" though from what we understand there is no Tango-proper build of the OS yet and OEMs aren't even referring to it with that name. Either way, clearly ZTE is betting that Windows Phone has a chance and we're impressed with their design even if the hardware is a little on the low side--we think they're a company to watch.

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Besides all of the new phone goodness today, Nokia also showed off a few new apps heading down the pike for their Windows Phone users. One of those is Nokia Transport, an app dedicated to public transportation including bus and train schedules for more than 500 cities--something us urban folk desperately need. The app nails down your position and shows you the nearest stops and schedules around you, allowing you to save and even pin to your Start screen a route of you choices. That Live Tile can then flip around showing you the next train or bus always keeping you in the loop.

Nokia Reading is an eBook app that also supports audio books. It turns out it runs through Nokia's store where you can browse for new books, including a lot of free ones, save and basically use it as solid eReader. The selection of books looks decent enough but we'll have to see more when it is closer to launch.

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Of all the big news that came out today, one little nugget that slipped by was the announcement of the all-white Lumia 900. "Leaked" accidentally a few weeks ago by Nokia themselves on their Facebook page, the glossy white beast had been expected to launch here at Mobile World Congress and sure enough it has shown up here on the floor.

The phone is what you expect it to be: a big ol' white whale of a phone, similar to the Lumia 800 but obviously more grand. Now the White Lumia 900 will launch internationally in a few weeks to join its Cyan, Black and Magenta siblings. AT&T is currently only offering the Cyan and Black versions but we're told Nokia has given AT&T the choice for the white version, but it is up to them to offer another SKU for the device.

In practical terms that means don't expect a white AT&T Lumia 900 but should the glossy version sell well and gain momentum the option is certainly there for them. Likewise with Magenta which could see a roll out on AT&T with a "refresh" of the phone later in the year.

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Rogers expands LTE Network

On the heels of Nokia announcing that the Lumia 900 Windows Phone would be headed to Rogers, the Canadian wireless provider announced a bit of news themselves. Rogers launched their LTE Network to St. John's being the first to provide LTE speeds to Newfoundland.

John Boynton, Rogers Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer stated,

"We are proud to be the first carrier to bring our LTE network to St. John's. With Rogers LTE wireless network coverage, customers have access to speeds similar to broadband connections, making it easier for people to use their mobile devices to download apps, stream HD videos and music or play on-line games, with virtually no delays or buffering."

Rogers was the first to launch an LTE Network in Canada last summer in Ottawa followed closely by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver last fall. LTE expansion doesn't stop with St. Johns. Rogers plans to double its LTE coverage later this year expanding to more than twenty five cities including Atlantic Canada and Halifax.

LTE Network expansion and the Lumia 900. Sounds like good times are in store for Rogers' customers.  You can catch the full presser after the break.

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Now that we know the European Lumia 900 is on its way to Europe (and beyond), will you be getting your paws on one? Unlocked Mobiles, a UK retailer specialising in unlocked mobile phones, has published a Lumia 900 product page with the price tag of £445.98. They expect to stock the SIM-free handset and have it available for delivery by May 21st.

The Lumia 900 sports a 4.3" AMOLED display (with ClearBlack technology), 512MB RAM, 1.4Ghz chip, 8MP camera (with FF), and 16GB storage. The handset will -of course- support the usual GSM Quad band 850/900/1800/1900 3G & HSDPA.

Source: Unlocked Mobiles

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As you all know by now, the Skype beta for Windows Phone is now out in the Marketplace. We just gave Rafael a call and was happily shocked at how good it sounded.

The app is pretty simple with your contacts and history and barely any user settings. You can make voice calls, chat or even video calls as expected and all calls are free over WiFi. In addition you can use the dialpad to call out any numbers should you have Skype out minutes.

Though long in the waiting, it looks to be a solid release even if it still has the "beta" label. Pick up Skype here in the Marketplace for free.

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ZTE Orbit to be unveiled at MWC

So we're already had the predicted Lumia 610 and European 900 announced at MWC, but what about handsets from other manufacturers? We've had the Microsoft team work hard lowering the requirements for smartphones to run the OS, but still provide a butter smooth experience, and ZTE look set to announce a budget Windows Phone shortly - the ZTE Orbit.

The handset is set to sport similar specifications to the Lumia 610 by Nokia, and will also be launching in Q2 this year. We'll be keeping all eyes and ears prepped for anything surrounding the Orbit, while you can check out our latest MWC 2012 coverage.

Source: Windows Phone Team Blog, thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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We've played with the Lumia 610 and now it's time for Symbian. But only because the Pure View 808 sports a whopping 41MP camera sensor allowing unprecedented photo taking (not to mention killer audio quality). Allowing you to save in 5, 8 or 38MP photos, it's really quite a technological feat that brought cheers from the crowd when announced.

No doubt, the phone is a bit chunky but what do you expect? To be honest, it's not that bad and we actually like the feel of it in our hands (the thin 2/3 of the body helps in holding it).

While this isn't a Windows Phone, you can bet Nokia and Microsoft are itching to get this on a Lumia, something we'll be waiting for this fall.

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