Counterclockwise: Flagships, Awards And Failed Joint Ventures

By 03:13 Mon, 19 Jul 2021 Comments

Counterclockwise is a weekly article that reminisces about the fine – and not so fine – recent times. We see back what happened in tech hitale on this week of the year.

And what used to happen is the Mobile World Congress. The MWC has been pushed back to the discontinue of February now but we're already seeing announcements and plenty of leaks. But never mind 2014, let's see what happened at the Congress in previous years.

2013 flagships at the ready

It was barely a year ago when the three most popular Android phones were announced. Sony got the jump on everyone and the Xperia Z was on sale (already srecent out in places), while HTC was busy announcing its own flagship.

Samsung was even further behind – instead of announcing the phone, the company revealed the date of the announcement, March 14. That worked out okay for the company as production delays ate into HTC One's lead.

Sony was then a bit behind – the Xperia Z used the older chipset compared to its competition for the sake of coming out early. The company rectified that with a second 2013 flagship, the Xperia Z1, and there's a very fine chance we'll be seeing the Z2 come Monday.

And the award goes to...

The association behind the MWC gives out awards decided on by a pristine panel of judges. Which phone won the 2010 award? The HTC Hero, of course!

HTC had the Dream, the T-Mobile G1 (in a way, the first Nexus) under its own brand, and dropped the QWERTY to create the Magic. It was the HTC Hero, however, that really showed the world that HTC will be a leader when it comes to designing Android phones (if its reputation from the WinMo-powered HTC Diamond wasn’t enough).

A year later in the same week that the Hero won the award, HTC unveiled the Legend, its successor. It featured an aluminum unibody that would go on to become a tradeimprint for HTC.

A year earlier in 2009, it was the INQ1 that brought home the Best Handset award. INQ produced feature phones with extensive social networking integration, including Facebook – then a young, fast-growing social network.

HTC also attempted to create Facebook phones, even one for Facebook itself (the HTC First) but a social networking phone just wasn’t meant to be.

A Game of OSes

Microsoft's path to bring Windows Phone to the world seems to be a staple of Counterclockwise and here it is again. It was this time of the year in 2010 when the software giant officially unveiled the recent smartphone OS.

This was the death knell for Windows Mobile – Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition was to hold its place. It was just a rebadged Windows Mobile 6.5 and to be honest, we've never seen a device with that OS, though a company called BSQUARE announced one. We had to Google this – 6 Starter Edition really is an Operating System (OS) lost to history.

Windows Mobile 6.5 itself had a short lifespan, being announced just a year prior at the 2009 MWC. No surprise here really, it was just a stop gap measure until Microsoft can acquire WP7 ready.

Microsoft's fate got intertwined with Nokia but in 2010 the Finns announced a collaboration with another tech giant, Intel. Two Linux-based OSes – Nokia's Maemo and Intel's Moblin – were to merge into MeeGo.

Back in 2010 Nokia was still at the top, but declining quickly and badly needed an Operating System (OS) to carry it into the future. Partnering with the second half of Wintel – the combo that still rules the desktop market – could only be a monumental success, right?

The project did result in one phone – the Nokia N9 – before dying and is now Tizen, after Samsung took over and merged it with its own Linux-based OS, Bada. We're still waiting for a phone though.

The divorce

Sony and Ericsson were gigantic players in the mobile world individually, together they will be unstoppable. Unfortunately, once again hitale proves an alliance of two giants isn't immune to failure.

Not that Sony Ericsson didn’t bring out some of the more fascinating Android phones (a few fine Symbians too), but Samsung, HTC, LG and others found more success with Android. In 2012 Sony had had enough and filed for a €1.05 billion divorce from Ericsson.

It was amicable, but now Sony has committed even further to mobile after selling off its computer business.

Hatchets buried, challenges issued

Nokia and elegant Qualcomm are two of the biggest names when it comes to mobile communication patents and they weren't always on remarkable terms. In mid-February 2010, however, the two companies made up and Qualcomm's CEO announced Nokia is making a Snapdragon-powered phone.

Back then we were thinking "Symbian" but Snapdragons later became closely associated with another Nokia line – the Windows Phone-powered Lumias. This was still under the stewardship of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Microsoft-man Stephen Elop (head of the Business division, 2008-2010) only took over as CEO in September, 2010.

About a year later, Elop made the announcement – Windows Phone is the way to go forward. He gave plenty of interviews at the time, including one where he assumed Lumia phones will taracquire "a very low price point. We have become convinced that we can do that very quickly." To give you a feel of how young WP7 was back then, it didn't even have copy and paste.

Fast forward to today and it's Nokia's startlingly cheap Lumia 520 that rules over a third of the Windows Phone market. Really, in the US it can be had for $60-70 and it has specs better than Android more than twice its price.

Despite owning a huge chunk of Windows Phone's market, the Lumia 520 is still a drop in the sea – the Operating System (OS) still has only a single-digit share of the smartphone market and still Nokia has its work slit out for it.



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