@ MWC: Vodafone’s Sarin: Too Many Platforms, Must Raise Game To iPhone

Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) CEO Arun Sarin, in his keynote to open Mobile World Congress, called for consolidation of handset operating systems. “There is no way that a group of developers out there developing cool applications can do it on 30 different operating systems. We have to narrow the range of options – instead of 30 or 40, if we had three or four or five, that would be a very good thing. Let the marketplace decide… whether it’s Symbian or Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) or Android… but we cannot have 30 operating systems out there.” Interesting that this comes just as Android surfaces.

iPhone: But Sarin said companies “must both compete and partner” with new players like Android and Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) Ovi: “We have to welcome these new ideas… “. “Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has raised the bar through the iPhone and we all now know how important user interfaces are. We as an industry have to raise our game to provide the kind of interfaces that our customers are becoming accustomed to.”

Mobile web: Sarin said “the new-new thing is internet on the mobile”. We may have heard that before: “But, for the first time, I feel we’ve got all the various parts lined up. The networks are going at 1, 2, 3Mbps, we have good user experiences, services. Soon there’ll be 14.4, soon there’ll be 28.8. This technology is good – the big difference in the last 12 months is that HSDPA has been able to deliver the goods that previous versions have been unable to.” But: “Is this mass-market today? I would say not. It’s fine to have penetration of two percent – but how about 70 percent?”

Content: And some stats from Vodafone: over 25 million mobile YouTube videos watched since the operator added the video sharing site’s handheld version early in 2007; over 92 million searches through its mobile Google (NSDQ: GOOG) partnership.