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Mobile imitators look to Apple

2009-02-19 03:49:30 GMT2009-02-19 11:49:30 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

The theme of this year's Mobile World Congress looks to be - if you can't out innovate them, imitate them.

Touch screens on sleek black devices. Apps stores a plenty.

Nokia is the latest mobile player to launch an online shop for software applications.

Niklas Savander is the company's executive vice-president of services.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NIKLAS SAVANDER, NOKIA EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT OF SERVICES, SAYING;

"This needs to be a meaningful business for Nokia. And of course at the size we are, that means it needs to be billions."

Reuters columnist Eric Auchard is in Barcelona looking for the big trends and new ideas. He's definitely identified a trend.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ERIC AUCHARD, REUTERS TECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT COLUMNIST SAYING;

"Everyone's trying to be Apple. It's funny, Apple doesn't come to conferences like this, but everyone here is trying to copy the touch screens, trying to copy the store that Apple has that lets you choose lots of software. They're trying to copy this feature or that feature. The problem is that until you put it all together in one cool package like Apple does, it's hard to copy Apple. And so far, what we've seen here, the announcements seem very derivative, almost copycat."

Google, another relative newcomer to the mobile space also continues to make inroads.

A new HTC touch device running Google's Android platform was unveiled by Vodafone.

Some new products look like they're straight out of old Bond films - the mobile watch the most notable example.

Japan's DoCoMo is showcasing a range of forward looking mobiles - including the Wellness phone which helps people monitor their health on the go and a prototype for the separate mobile.

And in a break from the competitiveness that usually governs decision making in this sector, leading operators and handset manufacturers joined together to commit to implementing a cross industry standard for a universal charger that will be used with new mobile phones.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) GSMA CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, MICHAEL O'HARA, SAYING:

"So the plan is by 2012 over half of the phones shipping in the market will use this new universal charger, and then ultimately we'll get to a point where you don't need to ship a new charger with the device."

So at least the pace of change looks to slow on at least one part of the mobile industry.

Matt Cowan, Reuters

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