Mobile Giants Discuss Their Future in Barcelona

Barcelona was host to some of the most influential players in the mobile industry as they reunited Monday for the Mobile World Congress in an effort to figure out what the future holds.

As the global economic recession progresses, companies such as Alcatel Lucent, Research in Motion, MySpace Mobile, and Nokia are looking to figure out ways to innovate within the mobile market in order to survive the turbulent months ahead.

“This conference here today gives a lot of indications that people are willing to invest as long as we have the right business models,” said Ben Verwayeen, CEO of Alcatel Lucent . “It’s less about the hype and less about the new gadgets. It is more about business model and how can we make it work.”

Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, seemed positive as his company’s innovative devices have seemingly grabbed the attention of the average consumer.

Relatively new gadgets, such as the Blackberry Storm, have increased subscriptions by 20 percent, according to Balsillie.

“The consumer part of the business is much, much bigger than the enterprise now though enterprise is growing very fast,” Balsillie said.

“We are hiring in most places right now and we are very fortunate. There’s a cutover from the [traditional] cell phone market to the smart phone market,” said Balsillie as Research in Motion is looking to expand while riding the economic crisis. “Wireless is an opportunity to play a leadership role in the new stimulus that is going on.”

Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of MySpace, sees the same opportunities as his company is forming partnerships with Research in Motion and Nokia in order to keep up with the mobile internet industry.

DeWolfe sees those partnerships becoming increasingly important as the mobile world expands rapidly. “They’re getting bigger and bigger for us because the smart phone is actually turning into almost like a mini computer that people take with them,” he said. “To have MySpace be a really rich, integrated part of these smart devices is absolutely integral to us.”

DeWolfe also stated that as his company is expanding they would not be cutting any jobs.

On the contrary, Nokia sees a grimmer future.

“We are in a global consumer-led recession. It's hitting the mobile business, as it is hitting all industries,” Richard Simonson, executive vice president & CFO of Nokia. “Nokia is prepared and we’re acting.”

Simonson said that the company has the strength to continue their strategy through the economic crisis.

“We have profitability with cash in our balance sheet that will allow us to continue to invest during these down times,” he said. “It isn’t a lot of fun right now.”

Simonson also added that emerging markets in developing countries are the ones taking the biggest hit from the recession as changing currencies have changed their outlook. As local currencies fall against the dollar and the euro making devices more expensive, Nokia has to figure out an approach. “Consumers pull back and adjust as we’re trying to find the right equilibrium.”