Thursday, 14 February 2008

Mobile World Congress - possibly the hottest show in town

As Mobile World Congress (MWC) draws to a close for yet another year, it’s time to reflect.

Over the past seven years (or is it more!), I have fully expected the fever pitch to tail off but it never does. In fact it seems to get more so. My gut feeling is right and according to the organisers, there were a record breaking 40,000 visitors on the first day alone (no wonder the queues were so long!)

This must be the hottest European show in the telecoms/IT industry right now. So what creates such excitement?

The mobile industry really is coming of age especially in its convergence with the Internet. Quite simply this stuff actually works on most people’s mobile devices most of the time in most places.

Three years ago when mobile data services first appeared, I couldn’t look up the latest news, local restaurants or cinema details without the device crashing. Today my mobile is reliable and provides this information at a price that I’m prepared to pay.

So we are there. The technology works and the customer is prepared to pay for it. Hurrah!

Nonetheless, the pace to innovate, drive up revenues, transform the customer experience with new services and find new market opportunities is relentless. Nothing ever stands still in this sector as this year’s MWC revealed yet again.

This year, the buzz was around Hall 8 where the big brand giants (including Nokia, Samsung, Huawei and Ericsson)were showing off their latest wares. It was like bees round the honeypot – I know not why! One of the hottest pieces of news that Radio 5 Live reported before the start was that Google was to launch its own mobile phone. However, it didn’t make big headlines at the show itself.

Sony Ericsson wants to be number three in the hit parade and to that end unveiled a range of new products including an addition to its Walkman range. From May, customers will be able to access up to five million tracks and navigate their music from the external idle screen.

Under the tagline ‘The Ultimate Essence of Mobile,’ Samsung Electronics launched its new flagship handset. Known as ‘Soul,’ the new handset is packed with features including a 7.2Mbit/s HSDPA browser and a 5 megapixel camera. (in fact the pink Soul banners were plastered over almost every concrete surface in and around the Fira including the defunct bull ring opposite the main gates). Let’s see what happens.

Rumours abounded that the latest gadgets and gizmos were being given away on every stand and that there was a plastic mobile phone that could be rolled up,..…sounds cool!

In Halls 1 and 2, there was a different atmosphere, less frantic, less hunger for the latest sexy gadgets. But this is where you could often find the next cutting edge technologies, the next jewels in the crown. Checkout Datawind, Ortiva Wireless, Newbay Software and Nubiq (on the Irish stand), Airwide Solutions and Actimagine.

And then of course, there were all the cool companies in Hall 7 focused on multimedia and the advertising and media communities. Checkout Mobile Complete, Mobstar Media, Netbiscuits, Lemonquest, Nunet, and Cloudmark.

Perhaps best of all, fabulous hall 6, where we could all collapse at the end of the first day. The Spanish government was looking after it’s 40,000 visitors supplying us with copious amounts of free Spanish Cava and beer,tapas and live music from some great Catalan bands...a definite must on the list for next year!

So can Mobile World Congress sustain its excitement and energy for a few more years? I would have thought so.


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