Eight observations on MWC 2010
A short video greeting from the congress...
1. Barcelona was cold, bleak, windswept and wet. This may not be as much a key observation as some of those further down this list, but for those of us who’ve spent the past five Congresses in balmy Spring sunshine, it came as a rather rude shock to the system, literally casting a dampener over proceedings. Clement weather in Barcelona is part of the natural order of things: fish always swim in the sea; bears perform their daily ablutions in the woods; CBOSS have a bevy of scantily-clad ladies on their stand; it’s nice in Barca in February. And the last of these things which define the world around us has been cast to the winds. I now have a chill as a result.
2. As we expected, apps were the order of the week – despite the fact that Apple, the progenitor of the new, app-centric world order, were once more conspicuous by their absence. This year Hall 7 was rechristened App Planet, becoming a one-stop shop for Mobile Innovations, developer workshops and an App Garage, as well as offering an opportunity for service providers and vendors to demonstrate what they were bringing to the app marketplace.
3. Apps were very much in evidence elsewhere in the Congress: they were at the heart of a host of discussions at the Conference (including a fascinating panel discussion on VC investment in app start-ups) and were likewise central to the product launches and attendant strategies outlined by many of the big players. Perhaps the most high-profile announcement of this sort was the Wholesale Applications Community in which 24 network operators will join the four members of the JIL initiative (Vodafone, China Mobile, Softbank and Verizon) in launching an open international applications platform.
4. Likewise, we saw a raft of new handsets clearly designed with the with the app-downloading market in mind, among them Sony Ericsson’s rather luscious new Xperia X10 (in all its variants, including the diminutive X10 Mini Pro which somehow manages to conceal a slide-out QWERTY keyboard) and Vivaz handsets. Both produced both a round of applause from the attendant journalists and analysts when they were unveiled by Bert Nordberg and his colleagues at the Sony Ericsson press conference, and then a media scrum which threatened to dissolve into fisticuffs as aforementioned analysts and journalists jostled for position during the subsequent demonstrations.
5. And the BBC are getting in on the app act, too – Head of Mobile Mark Kortekaas confirmed that H1 2010 would see a set of applications for the iPhone enabling users to stream live BBC content including news and sport over 3G and WiFi; apps for Blackberry, S60 and Android will follow later in the year.
6. Meanwhile, cloud computing featured prominently in the Congress Agenda: Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s keynote on Tuesday emphasized that Google was focusing on a “Mobile First” strategy, and that cloud-based, shared applications were the way forward. His thoughts were clearly shared by many vendors – Sony Ericsson announced the launch of their Creations platform aimed at facilitating end-user publication and modification of community content, while Telefonica confirmed that it is to launch a suite of cloud computing services in Latin America in association with NEC.
7. Nokia wasn’t at the Congress. It was, however, serving canapés, cocktails and analyst briefings at Once, about three minutes’ walk down the road. The key announcement from Nokia was that it will be merging its Linux platform with that of Intel: the merged platform, dubbed MeeGo, will target smartphones, netbooks, tablets and in-vehicle infotainment systems. It also threw a rather lively party.
8. And did I mention that Barcelona was cold and wet?