Apple on the Mind at MWC

Marguerite Reardon, reporting for CNet on a panel discussion between Steve Ballmer, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, and AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega in Barcelona:

iPhone maker Apple isn’t at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009 along with the rest of the mobile phone industry, but the company’s growing success is definitely top of mind for key executives in the mobile market. […]

“Customers want us to simplify,” de la Vega said. “Our corporate customers, especially, want a smaller set of operating systems to manage.”

And that worked out so well for the PC software industry.

“The iPhone is a great success, but it would be even better if the applications were interoperable.”

Sounds great, but makes zero sense at a technical level. There’s no way to get lowest common denominator interoperability without settling for a lower common denominator experience.

Kallasvuo agreed. And he used Apple and its “closed” ecosystem as an example of what could limit innovation in the mobile market in the future. He said Apple’s vertically integrated model, where its hardware and software are tightly controlled by the company, further fragmented the market. And he added that what is truly needed is more openness in developing applications.

Yes, prior to the iPhone progress was zipping along rapidly, but now it’s stuck because the iPhone is closed. The iPhone is hindering innovation because it’s innovative. Also: we have always been at war with Eurasia.

Ballmer argued that device openness was important to give customers more choices. And he pointed to the number of choices that Windows Mobile customers have when choosing a device.

We’d all have more choices if we’d all just choose Windows Mobile.