Top IT stories of 2010 - February

Changes at Zain, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Oracle acquiring

Tags: 2010retrospective
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Top IT stories of 2010 - February Saad Al Barrak stepped down from Zain (ITU)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 23, 2010

February 2010 opened with the news that Zain CEO Saad Al Barrak had resigned from the company. Barrak had guided the operator for eight years, during which time Zain expanded dramatically in international markets.

The previous year, 2009, had been difficult for the company however, as Zain tried to shed the majority of its African operations from July 2009, followed by a failed bid for Palestine's Paltel Group. Kuwaiti business conglomerate the Kharafi Group, a major Zain shareholder also tried to sell its stake in the operator. Barrak was replaced by Nabil Bin Salama, a former Minister of Communication, Electricity and Water in Kuwait.

Elsewhere for telcos, Etisalat reported a profit for 2009 of $2.4 billion, while Tata Communications announced that its TGN Gulf Cable system, a 4,469km cable to connect operators including Bahrain Internet Exchange, Nawras of Oman, Qatar Telecom, Mobily of Saudi Arabia and Etisalat to Tata Global Network would be completed in 2011.

Etisalat did not have it all its own way however, as Dubai Municipality announced that it had selected Du as the exclusive mobile and BlackBerry smartphone provider for 4,000 Dubai Municipality employees.

February also saw the annual telecoms industry gathering at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The event saw some notable launches, with Microsoft announcing its Windows Phone 7 Series mobile OS there. The operating system was touted as bringing  a new holistic design, including new interface, new core applications and improved ecosystem for OEMs, developers and operators.

Vodafone looked to developing markets, with the launch of two new low cost handsets priced at $15 and $20, with Qatar and Turkey cited among the first ten countries to receive the Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250 mobiles.

Qtel announced plans to open a Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) office in Doha at MWC. The centre is intended to boost the amount of locally produced content and applications for mobile devices.

MWC also saw the launch of Wholesale Applications Community, an alliance of operators and several hardware vendors, that aims to develop an open platform that will deliver applications to all mobile phone users in the world, regardless of device. The WAC is intended to make it easier for developers to create mobile applications that will work on any device.

Ahead of the MWC, Nokia also took steps to help mobile developers, by making the code for the Symbian OS open source. Nokia said that by making Symbian, the world's most popular smartphone operating system, open source, it would help boost innovation in the mobile sector, although many saw it as a move to stay competitive against other mobile platforms like Google Android and the Apple iPhone.

In the corporate sector, Oracle was on the acquisition trail once again, with the purchase of SOA specialist AmberPoint and telecoms solution provider Convergin. Oracle said that AmberPoint's SOA management products would build on Oracle's Fusion Middleware, while the Convergin J2EE-based Service Broker platform would be complementary to its telecoms portfolio.

As another indicator of how much competition is heating up between the top tier vendors, Cisco announced that it intended to ditch long term partner HP. Cisco stated its intention not to renew HP's reseller contract due to increased competition between the two in the data centre sector, particularly after HP's purchase of 3Com and Cisco's launch of its Unified Computing System data centre offerings.

In Egypt, Avaya and the National Telecommunications Institute of Egypt (NTI) signed an agreement to create a training centre to train graduates and engineers on Avaya technology, to boost the skills base for IP-based communications in the country.

Egypt was also fingered as the country worst affected by the Kneber botnet that has control of 75,000 systems around the world, according to US-based internet security firm NetWitness. The company said that Egypt accounted for one tenth of all infected PCs in the 75,000 strong botnet, which was gathering login credentials to online financial systems, social networking sites and email systems. Saudi Arabia was identified as the third worst infected country in the net.

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2010 retrospective