It's easy to dismiss the new mobile platforms. After all, they can't hope to compete against Apple or Google for the quality and variety of apps in the app stores.
But one of the most promising platforms of the lot demonstrated at MWC, Ubuntu Touch, runs Ubuntu Desktop apps and can even be used as an Ubuntu Desktop PC when you connect the phone to a large, external display. And, in any event, it's easy for developers to port Android applications to run native on Ubuntu Touch.
But most importantly, these upstart mobile platforms won't come at Android on the high end of the market, but on the low end, where apps are far less important.
A phone on display at MWC called the ZTE Open running the Firefox OS can serve as the poster child for the insurrection against industry leaders. Here's a phone made by a company most Americans have never heard of, but which already sells more phones in China than Apple does. The phone isn't involved in any way with Apple, Google or Samsung, and challenges them all, at least theoretically.
MWC revealed a ubiquitous, industrywide strategy to chip away at the dominance of Apple, Samsung and Google with a two-pronged strategy.
First, thrill advanced users on the high end with mind-blowing processing power, advanced features and great design -- beat Apple and Samsung by going bigger and better on all components.
Second, thrill emerging and low-end markets with very low-cost phones and features using Android alternatives, gobbling up global market share.
Don't get me wrong: Apple, Samsung and Google will continue to be the smartphone industry's global leaders for the foreseeable future.
But when it comes to market share, revenue and profits, the industry giants must now learn how to share.
See more Mobile World Congress coverage from our team in Barcelona.
Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at http://Google.me/+MikeElgan. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.
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