GSMA 2009 Chairman's Awards Presented to Research In Motion

Research In Motion (RIM) was honoured with the GSMA Chairman’s Award last night at the GSMA’s Global Mobile Awards ceremony. This award, established in 1995, is the Association’s most prestigious award and recognises outstanding contribution to the growth and development of mobile communications around the world.

In his presentation to RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie, GSMA Chairman Alexander Izosimov stated that, “RIM’s commitment to innovation has revolutionized the wireless industry and laid the foundations which shaped the thriving smartphone market of today. BlackBerry products and services have changed the way we communicate and interact, making businesses more productive and consumers better connected.”

On receiving the award, Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of RIM, said, “This award is a testament to the talent and commitment of more than 12,000 RIM employees who are all focused on serving our customers and partners. We are more excited than ever by the opportunities ahead in our industry and we are honoured to be recognized with the Chairman’s Award.”

RIM was founded by Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, while a student in Ontario in 1984 and Jim Balsillie joined as Co-CEO in 1992. RIM launched the BlackBerry solution ten years ago as a wireless email solution for enterprise customers and it changed the face of communications. Over the years, it has evolved into a multifaceted and robust wireless platform that supports a wide range of communications, information and entertainment applications for businesses and consumers alike. In recent years, RIM has brought innovative and popular new devices to market including the BlackBerry® Pearl™, the BlackBerry® Curve™, the BlackBerry® Bold™ and the BlackBerry® Storm™, which earned its own award at Mobile World Congress this year.

RIM has now shipped over 50 million BlackBerry smartphones and continues to grow at an impressive rate. In fact, in its thirteen years as a public company, RIM has grown its revenues by a remarkable 170,000%. RIM’s accomplishments in both innovation and business excellence have served the company and the mobile communications industry well, and RIM is the deserving recipient of this year’s GSMA Chairman’s Award.

GSMA Chairman Izosimov added: “In my opinion, BlackBerry helped keep the mobile data flame alive, and it helped the industry justify investment in GPRS and 3G in the face of early scepticism. It’s hard to imagine life before BlackBerry . Before the revolution of the BlackBerry “push email” service, finding a dial up and accessing email was a painful experience and RIM’s passion for innovation and growth has continued steadily since that game-changing breakthrough. It’s an extraordinary story.”


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GSMA and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Partner to Expand Availability of Financial Services through Mobile Phones

The GSMA, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced an innovative programme that will expand the availability of financial services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones. The Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) programme, supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the foundation, will work with mobile operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organizations to encourage the expansion of reliable, affordable mobile financial services to the unbanked.

“There are over 1 billion people in emerging markets today who don’t have a bank account but do have a mobile phone,” said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA. “This represents a huge opportunity and mobile operators are perfectly placed to bring mobile financial services to this largely untapped consumer base. Based on the initial findings of research conducted with the microfinance centre CGAP and McKinsey & Company, we believe that mobile money for the unbanked has the potential to become a US$5 billion market opportunity over the next three years.”

The MMU programme will fund regulatory and market research to help overcome some of the barriers of providing these services and demonstrate the business case for serving this market. The programme includes a US$5 million fund to catalyse a new wave of mobile money innovation, encouraging mobile network operators to create new services for previously unbanked people in emerging markets. The MMU programme will support approximately 20 projects in developing countries, focusing on Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the goal of reaching 20 million previously unbanked people with mobile financial services by 2012.

“Traditional financial services are often too costly and inconvenient for people who earn less than US$2 a day to obtain, and too expensive for banks to provide,” said Bob Christen, director of the Financial Services for the Poor initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Technology like mobile phones is making it possible to bring low-cost, high-quality financial services to millions of people in the developing world so they can manage life’s risks and build financial security.”

This grant to the MMU programme is part of the foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor initiative, which is working with a wide range of public and private partners to harness technology and innovation to bring quality, affordable savings accounts and other financial services to the doorsteps of the poor in the developing world. The foundation believes that setting aside small sums in a safe place allows people to guard against risks, build assets, and provide opportunities for the next generation.


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Industry-wide charging standard for mobiles

Today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the industry united to tackle the ever-increasing issue of charger sprawl by creating a common standard by 2012.

The GSMA and some 17 mobile operators and manufacturer will now create an industry-wide universal mobile charging standard. This will, hopefully, reduce both energy and equipment wastage and eliminate user frustration.

By adopting a common format, as opposed to the plethora of different charging models at present, the collaboration hopes to halve charger standby energy consumption. What’s more, it’s hoped by having less chargers out there that around 51,00 tonnes in duplicate chargers can be removed from the ecosystem too.

“The mobile industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling environmental issues and this programme is an important step that could lead to huge savings in resources, not to mention convenience for consumers,” said Rob Conway, the GSMA’s chief executive and member of the board, in a statement.

“There is enormous potential in mobile to help people live and work in an eco-friendly way and with the backing of some or the biggest names in the industry, this initiative will lead the way.”

January 2012 has been set as the ambitious deadline for the creation of the new universal charging solution (UCS), which will make use of micro USB.

The initial list of companies supporting the USC initiative is a who’s who of industry elites, including AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, O2’s parent company Telefonica, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

“This new approach to a charging solution is a major achievement and a significant step forward in reducing the waste and energy consumption of using mobile phones,” said Brigitte Bourgoin, Orange’s executive vice president and head of its personal line of business.

Bourgoin, who also sits on the GSMA board, added: “This initiative will also open the door to innovation in the operator retail presence as it is envisioned that chargers and mobile devices may be distributed separately in the near future, which will allow consumers to re-use existing chargers with other devices; reducing the overall number of chargers required. To this end the Orange ambition is that over two thirds of our sales will rely on this new charging solution.”


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Nokia adding Skype Access Into Handsets

It may seem incidental amongst the waves of ‘HD’ high end handsets being unveiled at Mobile World Congress, but could this have the biggest long term repercussions of anything announced this week…

Gearing itself up for one heck of a run in with the world’s major networks is Nokia, the world’s biggest handset maker, which has announced plans to integrate 3G and WiFi Skype access into all its handsets.

Now for those who didn’t spot it, the key word here is ‘3G’ because while most networks are increasingly happy for subscribers to use VoIP clients over WiFi the idea of losing call revenue while we’re on the move is enough to make them lightheaded. 3 is the obvious exception here which has embraced Skype, most notably with its admirable Skypephone series.

The Nokia Skype roll out will begin with the N97 in June and then become part of all subsequent Nokia N Series handsets. From there integration is expected to happen with other lines with the necessary horsepower.

“Making Skype available everywhere through mobile devices is essential to fulfilling our vision of ‘enabling the world’s conversations’,” said Skype COO Scott Durchslag. “Collaborating closely with Nokia to preload and integrate our software onto their devices will benefit the many Nokia customers who already use Skype, as it makes Skype easily accessible and simple to use on the go. It will also bring Skype new users who love Nokia’s Symbian S60 experience.”

The big question in all this is whether mobile networks around the world will have the stones to stand up to Nokia on this and take the time to strip out Skype (or at least block 3G Skype access) from every single one of the Finn’s handsets. Interestingly, a similar situation arose in April 2007 when Orange and Vodafone stripped VoIP company Truphone’s client from all Nokia N95 models but it would seem hard to repeat such regressive action over a wide range of lines in the marketplace of 2009.

On the other hand, get VoIP 3G access through and the floodgates open for all other manufacturers and what then happens to call revenue across the globe? I’ve long said the future role of mobile networks is that of a glorified ISP as everything moves to data. This could prove a massive step in that direction…


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Nokia Selects Broadcom as a Next Generation 3G Chipset Supplier

Nokia(NYSE:NOK), the world leader in mobility, has selected Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM), a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, as a next generation 3G baseband, radio frequency (RF) and mixed signal chipset system supplier for worldwide markets. The two parties will cooperate on technology, including Nokia modem technology.

“We are very pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a 3G HSPA supplier leveraging Broadcom’s strengths in mixed signal, multimedia and cellular platform technologies,” said Scott McGregor, Broadcom’s President & Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to developing great products and continuing to build upon our existing relationship to help Nokia realize their mission of ‘Connecting People’.”

“Today’s announcement with Broadcom is a further example of Nokia’s commitment to our diversified, multi-supplier chipset strategy,” said Kai Oistamo, Executive Vice President, Devices, Nokia. “This agreement, which targets low cost, high volume markets, demonstrates that we view Broadcom as a reliable supplier to bring the benefits of 3G to Nokia customers around the world.”


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World’s first transparent phone

LG’s recently unveiled Arena was the first handset to introduce the Korean company’s new S-Class 3D UI, but the firm’s since unveiled two more sexy touchscreen devices running the cube-based menu system – including one with a transparent touchpad.

LG_GD900_02LG’s GD900: has a see-through keypad

If you can see through the marketing hype, you’ll love the GD900. Why? Because it’s apparently the world’s first phone to sport a transparent keypad, which LG said is constructed from a crystal, “glass-like” material.

LG_GD900_057.2Mb/s HSDPA and quad-band GSM

Alternatively, the GM730 – one of the first phones to be based on Windows Mobile 6.5 – is supposedly an easy-operation smartphone capable of 7.2Mb/s HSDPA and 2.0Mb/s HSUPA connections.

The GD900 sports identical HSDPA characteristics, yet measures 105 x 52 x 13mm. Its rival measures a slightly larger 110 x 56 x 12mm. Both devices are set-up for quad-band GSM/GPRS/Edge connections.

LG_GM730_02The GM730 will be one of the first phones running Windows Mobile 6.5

LG’s keeping mum about further technical specifications for either phone, for the time being. However, it said that the GM730 will appear first, during the first half of this year, while the GD900 won’t appear in shops until Q2. ®



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