For those who went, a record 72,000 delegates, guessing you’ll have to agree: there was a certain ‘shift’ feeling at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year. If you didn’t manage to attend there’s plenty of material to review out there, suggest the Show Daily, simply put – as always – far better to have been there in person to compare the new vibe with years past.
Maybe good to start here with a defining quote by Benedict Evans via an otherwise confusing (innovative or not?) WSJ post: “It is a trade fair, but a trade fair for a $1 trillion industry.” Yes, it seems we are all grown-up now. While the energy is evident, the players are changing and the buzz generated years ago by the addition of App Planet, and collectable ‘droid pins, has given way to a more matured atmosphere. Rushing between those huge halls we saw many clearly pleased, and a few panicked, faces.. but most notable was the Silence. A signature background music theme is def. in order for future gatherings.
That said, the new venue was really a massive improvement, transport was hardly an issue, and the maiden voyage at Fira Gran Via was ‘the’ major news for this year. Sure, Sammy hit us with an 8″ monster, go big or go home, and NOK brought a $15 clamshell that apparently Runs LINE – Hello BBM! – No RIM at the show? While FireFox got serious attention, as noted above lots of tidbits, think new platforms for Auto segment combining Bluetooth with Cloud for Dynamic Efficiency, using a Formula for Geotags (add H,I,J,K,L,M,N keywords), which is running Open source and now Patent-pending (thru X,Y,Z) of course!
Anyway.. a few of the highlights, for us, that deserve a quick mention below.
JETRO nailed a fantastic front door location in App Planet, under a huge Japan is Back sign, hosting some 15 Japanese SME’s paired with Morpho and FeliCa Networks “we’re like a start-up with only 150 employees” anchored along side. Great to see some young energetic faces there in the mix with folks from Monaca, Fuller and Brilliant Service to name a few.
DoCoMo won the Global Mobile Award for “Best Network Product or Solution for Serving Customers” with their Hanashite Hon’yaku automatic voice translation offering. Meanwhile the teams from both NEC and Fujitsu came prepared with high calibre product on display.
Also impressive; the GSMA Connected City pavilion was huge – pano here – with AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, GSMA, KT, Telenor and Vodafone joining to demo wares for smarter homes and cities of the future. We had fun in there for a few hours and met some interesting folks also making the rounds.
The NFC Experience was on-deck again this year as it’s importance gains mind-share (finally) beyond Japan. The recent announcement via NFC Forum with Google upgrading to top-level member status should make clear the time is coming at the global stage. While we could get into the gritty details of our own taste of that initiative, this post via Nobi makes the point in rather blunt no-nonsense terms. For the record, No, we did not get a free Sony handset offered to journos there.. props to them for trying to push enabled hardware into the hands with voices who might sing their praise. Someday the world will learn what we have long since taken for granted here in Tokyo!
Otherwise, the addition of eight Networking Garden spaces was icing on the cake; fully tricked out with deck chairs, food & beverages and live evening entertainment. These areas were always bustling with impromptu business chats, new connections and plenty of smiles. Our genuine congrats to the folks at GSMA on this move, and the event overall this year.
A final closing note on the Chairmans Award announcement from 2012; we have not seen anything related to that important Disaster Response Programme mentioned since then? En-route back to Japan from Spain I stopped over for a quick visit with Mobikyo co-founder Daniel Scuka who noted an ESA project focused on space weather and the so-called Carrington Event. As we approach our 2nd Anniversary of the 3.11 Earthquake and Tsunami here, it’s a most fevered hope that those in power Never Forget the significant importance of communications during such times of crisis.. Indeed: What If?**
**Update July 24, 2014: Apparently it Nearly Happened Again.. +_+