Feb 24 - WhatsApp's Koum and his new business partner Mark Zuckerberg are key speakers at the Mobile World Congress. With WhatsApp adding voice calling to its service, will the Facebook boss outline a new vision for a mobile strategy? Ivor Bennett reports on the headline news from Barcelona.
Trainers and a beanie, Jan Koum isn't your average billionaire. But after selling your company for 19 billion dollars, would you dress to impress? The WhatsApp founder is one of the keynote speakers at this year's Mobile World Congress, along with new business partner Mark Zuckerberg. Like Koum, the Facebook CEO is keeping a low profile. But don't be fooled, his presence says a lot. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER, SAYING: "I actually think that by itself it is worth more than 19 billion dollars. It is hard to make that case today because they have so little revenue compared to that number but the reality is there are very few services that reach a billion people in the world. I could be wrong. there is the chance that this is the one service that gets to a billion people and ends up not being that valuable - I don't think I am." Jeremy Green is principle analyst at Ovum. SOUNDBITE (English) JEREMY GREEN, PRINCIPLE ANALYST, OVUM, SAYING: "It'd be really churlish to say that Facebook has belatedly realised it needs a mobile strategy. It's known that, it's known that for a long time. In the discussions it's been suggested their share price is lower than it ought to be, because their mobile strategy isn't as good as it ought to be." When it comes to mobiles, it doesn't get much bigger than this. 70-thousand delegates, along with every global mobile operator and handset maker is here is. The key theme this year? Low cost devices. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "Meet the Firefox OS. The cheapest smartphone there is. It's got all the usual trappings, touchscreen, email, apps, all for just 25 dollars." Finnish firm Nokia is another aiming at the bottom end of the market The former market leader unveiling a new range of Android phones for 89 euros. The operating system accounted for nearly 80 % of all smartphone shipments last year. But up until now Nokia has only ever used Windows. And with a takeover by Microsoft just around the corner, it's a strategy that's left many analysts scratching their heads. Phil Goldstein's editor of Fierce Wireless. SOUNDBITE (English) PHIL GOLDSTEIN, EDITOR, FIERCE WIRELESS, SAYING: "I think that if they can get people who buy these X phones to then move to Windows phones. It's a good strategy. I personally think that they could just go straight after these consumers with low end Windows phones." Big hitters like Samsung, Huawei and HTC all using the event to showcase their latest models and upgrades.