The Mobile World Congress got underway in Barcelona today, with one entrepreneur vying for headline status with the release of one of the world’s most important smartphones. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke at length about a variety of mobile-related issues at the conference, while Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) unveiled its new flagship Galaxy S5 mobile.
Zuckerberg opens up on Snowden issue
Zuckerberg was keen to emphasize the future of the Internet as he sees it; a vital device which can improve the lives of impoverished people all over the world (a cynic might wonder if he has a vested interest in this vision!). In accordance with this, he stated that reducing the cost of Internet access would be key to this vision. Zuckerberg also spoke about the recent $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, describing it as a “great company” and a “great fit” for Facebook.
The Facebook entrepreneur also indicated that he felt customer privacy was now a huge part of his job after the Edward Snowden revelations related to NSA spying. In relation to this, Zuckerberg stated that the US government has “a responsibility to protect folks and to be transparent. I think they were way over the line about what they were doing.”
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Samsung Galaxy S5 presentation a highlight
Meanwhile, Samsung’s revelation of the Galaxy S5 promises to be the mobile highlight of the congress. Samsung has huge ambitions for its device given that it intends to usurp Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the top of the smartphone market this year, and the Korean manufacturer put together an impressive presentation which particularly emphasized the security, camera-related and speedy Internet capabilities of its new flagship smartphone. ValueWalk has already compiled a guide to the Galaxy S5’s specs, and we have also compared this new handset to its Galaxy S4 predecessor.
Aside from Samsung, other companies were also launching new devices at the event. Among these were HTC Corp (TPE:2498), which has produced some incredibly well received smartphones in terms of critical reception, but has yet to receive the sort of market penetration that they had hoped for. The HTC Desire 816 handset aims to change this, although its 5.5-inch size makes it a ‘phablet’ rather than a specific smartphone. Its specs include a 13MP rear-facing camera, a 5MP camera on the front, a 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor with 1.5GB of RAM and has 8GB of storage. The Desire 816 runs off Android KitKat 4.4 with a HTC Sense 6.0; it will be interesting to gauge both the critical and public response to this phablet.
Sony showcases its ambitious SmartBand project
While there were further smartphone releases from the likes of Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V), ZTE and Asha, another interesting release was that of the Sony SmartBand. The legendary Japanese corporation has been apparently emboldened by the success of its Playstation 4 video game console, and thus it is looking to move into the smartwatch market. Sony is not marketing this device as a watch, but as it fits around consumer’s wrists, it is evidently aimed at this sector. Priced at around $130, Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) will be hoping that this device can be the first truly commercially successful smartwatch-like device.
With several days of the Mobile World Congress to run, there will doubtless be more interesting products and revelations to follow in the coming days.