MWC13- Mobile World Communications?
This year’s biggest mobile phone conference was in a new venue, with more visitors and what felt like an ever increasing buzz. According to the GSMA, 2013’s show welcomed over 72,000 visitors, with attendance up by 8% compared to 2012. Here are some of the big, and little, stories, launches and events that we spotted.
Timings are a-changing. The show no longer starts on the Monday of the show. We’ve long known that many of the networking parties commence over the weekend beforehand, whether Mobile Sunday or even yoga on the beach on Sunday morning (a first this year!). However, where most companies used to save their news for the first few days of the show, the big launches happened on the Sunday. Any media or bloggers who arrived on Sunday evening had already missed the major news from the likes of Samsung and Huawei.
Mobile doesn’t just mean mobile. Beyond the usual mobile device announcements, whether tablets or affordable smartphones (thanks Nokia), there were other gadgets making headlines, and gadgets you would normally expect at the likes of CES. From floppy keyboards (silicone keyboard from Elecom), 3D printing courtesy of Nokia, to cute little robots, remote pet feeders and exhausted cyclists in the Connected City, the focus seemed to be more on what mobile technology enables as opposed to the latest device.
Mobile services also played a key role. Such as NFC. This was a major theme of the show, not least because of the NFC Experience where Visa, Brands2Life client Gemalto, CaixaBank and others joined together to offer 3,000 media and select delegates Sony Xperia devices with NFC technology. Many of the lunch outlets offered NFC payment to speed up the queues and you could also replace your MWC badge with an NFC badge. From NFC-enabled vending machines to NFC-enabled conference rooms, scepticism still exists, but it’s far more prevalent than it used to be.
Mobile powering health. While slightly underreported, much is to be said for the advances being made in making remote health monitoring available via mobile technology. Faced with a rapidly ageing population across much of the developed world, putting mobile technology to use in allowing us to manage and even control our health means we can better deal with an increasingly elderly demographic. It’s good to see Mobile World Congress going beyond the latest shiniest and fastest mobile device to improve lives.
Of course there was a lot of networking both at the Fira but at the parties and fringe events. The GSMA laid on Networking Gardens with live music and free drinks and nibbles on the first night – even handing out blankets to stave off the cold – but it was the Google/Android Party on the Tuesday night that was the major success with Tinie Tempah and Florence And The Machine performing to over 2,000 people, and leaving all those without a ticket most disgruntled. Until they realised that Real Madrid v Barcelona was kicking off, which made the tapas and the bars all the more fulfilling.
The main takeaway from this year’s show, however, has to be the buzz created. The hashtag #MWC13 was trending right behind the Oscars from day one of the conference and there was so much happening (or so it felt) you had to applaud the communication process behind the organisers. Mobile World Congress truly is a communications festival thanks to the marketing, advertising, media and social media investment made by exhibitors, delegates, visitors and people following it from afar alike.