iPhone 'Nano' Rumor Upstages Many MWC Announcements

There are already dozens of announcements coming out of Barcelona and the Mobile World Congress. Many of them have to do with new devices (mostly tablets); there are a few acquisitions and partnerships being announced, many carrier-related announcements, some mobile payments activity and many chip and networks-related announcements. 

Several of the highlights include the following:

Last night Nokia CEO Stephen Elop went before reporters to further elaborate upon the Microsoft deal and deny that he was a "Trojan Horse" sent by Microsoft to secure this deal in particular. It also emerged that Nokia will receive "billions" in value from the Microsoft relationship in direct and indirect ways.

Essentially Microsoft appears to have "outbid" Google for the Nokia deal but the scales were also tipped by Nokia's fear that if it adopted Android it would become a commodity producer of Google devices and would have a diluted brand in the marketplace. (Arguably it should have embraced both Windows and Android.)

Intel will apparently go on with development of the open-source MeeGo despite the fact that Nokia has essentially abandoned it. It appears that Intel was blindsided by the Nokia-Microsoft announcement at the end of last week. Effectively MeeGo is now an "also-ran" OS.

Seeking to grab attention and divert it from rivals Apple strategically leaked information to the Wall Street Journal (earlier reported by Bloomberg) that it was developing a "nano" version of the iPhone, somewhat smaller and about 50% cheaper to better compete with Android at the low end. We discussed this last week when the first rumors surfaced. 

According to the Journal:

Apple Inc. is working on the first of a new line of less-expensive iPhones and an overhaul of software services for the devices, people familiar with the matter said, moving to accelerate sales of its smartphones amid growing competition.

One of the people, who saw a prototype of the phone late last year, said it is intended for sale alongside Apple's existing line. The new device would be about half the size of the iPhone 4, which is the current model.

The new phone—one of its code names is N97—would be available to carriers at about half the price of the main iPhones. That would allow carriers to subsidize most or all of the retail price, putting the iPhone in the same mass-market price range as rival smartphones, the person said.

Apple is also considering making its cloud-storage service MobileMe free. Currently it costs $99 per year.

The purpose of the leak was to generate coverage, discussion and speculation about Apple's products during the MWC event and upstage other OEMs that are showcasing their competing devices. Apple has done similar things in the past in conjunction with CES, another show it doesn't attend. 

So far, the strategy appears to be paying off