Mobile Round-Up: Appcelerator Acquires Aptana, More on Sony PSP Phone Launch

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comments

Samsung is planning a surprise for Mobile World Congress: The handset maker seems to be gearing up to launch its next wave of Android phones in Barcelona next month.

Meanwhile, Sony looks set to launch its PlayStation Portable phone in February: The Tokyo-based company needs to have a strong answer for gamers and developers alike to Apple’s increasing clout. Bloomberg reports that Sony will “outline a strategy to use its networked entertainment services to share games, movies and music among handheld products, TVs and other devices.”

Stoke, which helps carriers overcome their legacy architecture to provide mobile broadband, raised $17 million: The round, led by Focus Ventures with participation from earlier investors including Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, brings the Santa Clara-based company’s total funding to $92 million.

Path adds emoticons: The San Francisco-based mobile photo-sharing app bafflingly announces that it has added emoticons, even though users still can’t comment on their friends’ photos. While the app is beautiful, its monthly active users connected to Facebook continue to decline and are down to 23,299 from 26,224 four days ago, according to AppData.

Kony Solutions grabs a large Series A round of $19.1 million to support “Write Once, Run Everywhere” mobile apps: The San Mateo-based company gets backing from Insight Venture Partners for its platform, which can make apps compatible with more than 8,500 devices.

In Europe, a similar company Netbiscuits also raises funding from Deutsche Telekom’s venture arm: Netbiscuits also works with big brands like eBay, Time Inc. and Universal Music Group to build mobile applications that work on multiple platforms. It didn’t disclose the size of the round.

Google’s DoubleClick makes it easier to build HTML5 ads for mobile devices: The ad exchange makes it simpler for agencies to build both Flash-based and HTML5 advertisements from DoubleClick Studio.

Starbucks expands its experiment with mobile payments: The coffee chain is expected to announce today that its 6,800 outlets, plus 1,000 more in Target stores, will start accepting payments by phone. Customers pay through the free Starbucks Card app. They wave their phones in front of a scanner at cash registers and the app deducts money out of their Starbucks account, which they can reload with credit cards or PayPal.

In more news about companies supporting cross-platform mobile app development, Appcelerator bought Accel-backed Aptana: The two companies say they’ll now serve about 1.5 million developers together. Appcelerator helps developers reuse their code on desktop and mobile devices with Titanium Platform.

NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile and KT get together for a mysterious ‘business collaboration': The most prominent carriers in Japan, Korea and China say they will explore “international roaming, enterprise services, LTE and other network technologies, smartphones and common platforms” together.

Location Labs releases a “no driving while texting” app: DriveSmart Plus, which costs $4.99, uses the phone’s GPS to tell when a user is probably in a car. If they are, it turns off the phone’s ability to read or send texts and transfers all calls to voicemail or handsfree Bluetooth.

Microsoft brings OneNote to the iPhone: The free app, which syncs personal data from across the web to your PC, makes it easy for users to manage their project lists, organize plans, and collect notes or thoughts.

Mobile advertising network Millennial Media releases a Windows Phone 7 SDK: The company pulls its SDK for Microsoft’s newly-launched OS out of beta. It supports interstitial ads for Silverlight applications and interactive ad units for creative agencies.