Highlights of Mobile World Congress 2009

(Last Updated On: February 23, 2009)

With about 47,000 attendees to the exhibition and conference in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress was quite a vibrant experienced indeed.

What was of particular interest to me, was the Internet revolution on mobile- finally! How bringing the Internet (and its related applications such as social networking) has brought a brave new frontier for the mobile phone industry.  

Rather than just focus on mobile standards and which one will succeed in the future, there was a greater emphasis on this whole new world of services and applications, and how gaining and keeping customers coming back and using their networks will be key to making money in this business. As consumers move to the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools, users will demand that the wall gardened approach of different standards, networks and operators be brought down. Interoperability and interconnectivity between standards will be key to success in this new space. Key will also be creating sustainable business models. Interestingly, this is also where the Green Telecom agenda plays a part (bringing down OPEX). It is clear that the connecting the next billion users will come from developing countries, and so being mainly off grid places, Green Power in Telecommunications is key.

Thus this year, there was a great addition of the Green Power Pavilion. Green energy companies, energy efficiency companies, and power management companies were featured. One interesting company is VNL (see my write up under Green ICT).

I was also particularly enamored with new players in the mobile space. Laptop companies such as Acer and Lenovo introduced smart phones to compete with the traditional players such as Nokia, HTC, Samsung and not so traditional ones such as Apple (having led the way). Acer’s Smartphone (DX900) was particularly attractive as it offered connectivity to EDGE, 3G, HSDPA and Wi-Fi. It also had a dual SIM card feature, which is very attractive for the mobile business traveler.

Another interesting thing at MWC 2009 was to see companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft. Adobe, Google showcase or launch old and new mobile software. Apple type user friendly, attractive and touch screen software was the name of the game. Now the question was how to convince either the mobile handset manufacturer or the mobile operator to preload their software so that they can gain market share of eyeballs quicker than just having users upload the software themselves. Not to be left behind, Nokia joined in the “Apple apps store” type approach, by launching its own form of an application store called Ovistore.

This coming together of old and new software companies, computer manufacturers, handset manufacturers and service provider industry truly created a sense of dynamism to MWC. Apart from these big players, there were many mobile application vendors showing off cool mobile tools for the mobile phone. Mobilfilms were also present to encourage more content creation for the mobile phones.

Overall a very fruitful trip and many good networking opportunities. The highlight of my trip was however really meeting Will.I.Am at the Mobile Awards dinner. Being an Obama fan myself who went to DC for the Inauguration, it was indeed a very special treat. I loved his rendition of “It is a New Day” which he sang with Jamie Cullen, a great jazz musician.