From Wire Reports

BARCELONA, Spain – The Mobile World Congress trade show saw a frenzy of action on Monday.

The annual event, which started Monday, could draw as many as 53,000 attendees and 1,400 companies setting up booths and battling for sales and partnerships with hardware makers, software developers and wireless carriers. That compares with 49,000 attendees and 1,300 booths in 2010.


Now that it has hooked up with Nokia phones, Microsoft hopes to connect its phone software to the Xbox this year too. It’s also planning other improvements that include a faster Web browser and quicker switching between phone applications.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the upgrades Monday in a keynote speech. On Friday, Nokia said it would ditch its smart-phone software in favor of using Windows Phone 7, which launched late last year.

Microsoft showed a video of three people using an Xbox game console with a Kinect camera. One of them, standing in front of the camera, “dodged” balls that appeared on the TV screen, sent by the two other players from their Windows phones.

In another upgrade, Microsoft plans to introduce a form of “multitasking” for third-party applications. To switch quickly between apps, the user can hold down the “back” button, which reveals a list of recently-used applications, displayed like a row of “cards” on the screen. It’s a design reminiscent of Palm Inc.’s webOS software, which attracted few customers despite receiving favorable reviews when it was released in 2009. Hewlett-Packard Co. bought Palm last year and plans to use the software in a range of products, including tablets and PCs.

Microsoft also plans to upgrade its browser to make it more responsive. Microsoft runs a version of its Internet Explorer that lags behind smart-phone browsers when it comes to speed.

Windows phones will get their first, previously announced software update in March. It will add a cut-and-paste feature. The more wide-ranging updates revealed Monday will come later in the year.

Microsoft is playing catch-up in the phone market, with sales far behind those of Apple Inc.’s iPhone and phones based on Google Inc.’s Android software. Microsoft is paying billions for Nokia’s support, and Nokia’s CEO says the smart-phone market will now be more of “three-horse race.”


Investors have panned his shake-up strategy and employees are rankled. Now, Nokia’s Stephen Elop, the first non-Finn to lead the world’s largest maker of phones, is in a hurry to justify his decision to ditch the company’s smart-phone software in favor of a former employer’s, Microsoft.

He has a lot of ground to cover.

Nokia’s stock, which lost 14 percent after the Microsoft deal was announced Friday, fell by more than 5 percent Monday. Nokia employees showed their displeasure with the software switch on Friday, using flex time to head home en masse.

Elop presented his case, to both investors and employees, at the world’s largest cell-phone trade show on Monday and said the Microsoft deal means billions of dollars for Nokia in addition to benefits like lower software development costs.

Elop, who is Canadian, discussed employee reactions during an interview with The Associated Press.

“Every employee goes through an emotional journey, and the emotional journey is difficult, because this is such a big change,” he said. “I’ve had four and a half months to go through my emotional journey, ending up in a very different position from what I had assumed when I first joined.”

Nokia has been losing market share to Apple Inc., Google Inc. and others that have moved aggressively into the smart phone market.

The company’s worldwide market share in smart phones was just over 30 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 40 percent a year earlier. It’s still the biggest maker of non-smart phones, but everyone in the industry believes smart phones are the future.

The shift has been so drastic that Elop, in a memo leaked last week, compared the company to a burning oil platform, asking employees to jump off of it with him in search of a safer place.

The memo had industry analysts talking.

“Nokia has jumped into the icy water from the burning platform, but we are not sure when the lifeboat is going to turn up, and the water appears to be infested with predators,” said analyst Richard Windsor of Nomura Securities.

Shares of Nokia fell 52 cents, or 5.6 percent, to close Monday at $8.84.

LG Electronics

LG Electronics is showing off the first phone with a color 3-D screen and a 3-D camera.

The South Korean electronics company’s Optimus 3D drew large crowds eager to give it a test run on Monday at the Mobile World Congress.

The screen produces the illusion of depth without the need for special glasses, and includes a pair of five-megapixel lenses for taking 3D photos and video.

The phone must be held at the proper distance and angle in order for the viewer to perceive depth. It runs on Google Inc.’s Android 2.2 operating system.

LG Electronics Inc. said the 3D phone will be sold in the spring, but it didn’t announce a deal with a U.S. carrier.

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