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Yet another exciting visit to Barcelona for the annual ‘must-do’ Mobile World Congress event, with a record 85,000 folks in attendance this year, it was classic chaos as always with more than 1,800 exhibiting companies showcasing across 98,000 square metres of hall space and 3,800+ international media covering the action.. as per this Shatters Previous Records PR.
While you can watch the interviews at Mobile World Live** and skim the Show Daily reports, there really is nothing like being on the ground and in that mix. Of course there are tons of reviews online, and their official Event Highlights is a good starting point, a couple of quick post-show thoughts below from our perspective – likely somewhat off the usual radar.
**DoCoMo Keynote Presentation Here
Plenty of buzz headed into MWC this year with the FaceBook aquisition of WhatsApp, it will be interesting to see how their joint initiative with GSMA develops on connecting billions in developing markets. While the final price-tag seemed to have a extra zero, certain Rakuten and LINE folks were both smiling here, comment by Bill Gates in Rolling Stone was bang-on: “..Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the next Facebook”. As luck would have it, we crashed their top-secret VIP shaker which was, as the kids say these days, Epic.
Despite a hectic daily meeting schedule, managed to spend a little time focused on what Japan brought to the party for 2014; the DoCoMo booth in Hall 1 had a decent range on display – from 5G to Hitoe Wearable – through to App Planet in Hall 8.1 where Jetro was hosting a handful of energetic startups together with the Sony FeliCa team again this year. Along the way we saw Panasonic with their latest HARDware and Kyocera had a few plastic mock-ups behind glass. Sadly the locals had no part in Connected City, which pulled pretty decent traffic, and they did not earn a single Award despite multiple examples which either pre-date or excel some of those featured offerings.
From the gut: a shame Jetro lost the front door position in App Planet from last year and smaller booth design was rather ‘closed’ to walk through traffic. Looking at their website, English and Japanese, zero mention of this important trade mission? Compared to Israel, albeit always a strong player at MWC, the difference is.. notable. That said, here’s the point generally not found in main-stream; the traditional focus with nano-attention to product, and the subtle approach on it’s delivery, is well-understood in Japan. However, the old-school players are rather more awkward when trying to play the loud splashy games found at such events. An easy example, based on above, would be: What ‘if’ Fujitsu made Really Big Noise about their haptic touch tablet with a cool demo that featured it’s ability to render Braille!
Imagine making the digital world easily available to the blind, not to mention all the media attention that little stunt would have brought? To be clear, yes, there has been chatter about this concept in the past, but apparently still no actual product on the street, as Yoda(san) famously said: Try Not – Do or Do Not. Simply put.. ahead much work there is…
While the main Fira Gran Via venue had plenty candy, to us, the real story this year was actually back at the original Fira Monjuic location with WIP-Jam and Four Years From Now both Rocking daily programs! Suffice to say easily half of my 200+ business cards collected during the week came via these two gigs. Full props to all involved, Audi clearly leaned in with support for the main stage and the city of Barcelona, under Mobile World Capital, set the tone for this new additional activity to become an increasingly important part of MWC. I’m pretty bullish on the future build and combined potential – where the money meets the talent – going forward and thrilled to become increasingly involved. Up next: Mobile Asia Expo in June!
Big Thanks to @GSMA, another impressive effort, we all lived happily ever-after.. The End.
Filed Under: Editors Note
Some sage advise when entering new turf; Stop, Look and Listen.. it’s also good to secure a local guide. Japan is the cradle of mobile civilization – we have been dedicated to this space since 2001 – trust our archives here offer some useful material.
Domestic activities continue to set the pace, and sharp players are looking at global markets. We have hard-earned industry expertise and trusted network of contacts with access to advanced intell. and potential deal flow. Need a lift.. Ok, buckle-up!