Barcelona Bound

David Murphy

Murphy's Law MWC 2015It’s the last week of February, which must mean that Mobile World Congress is on the horizon. A colleague of mine, who is heading over to the event for the first time, asked me yesterday if I was looking forward to the event. I took her quietly to one side and put her in the picture, explaining that Mobile World Congress is not something you look forward to, it’s something you just do, and hope to come out in one piece the other side.

I say this as someone who, in the course of attending the show seven or eight times, has lost a phone, had a laptop nicked, and dislocated an elbow (not all in the same year, even I’m not that clumsy), so maybe other people feel differently about the event, but I’m not so sure. As someone else I spoke to about MWC last week noted, the flight home on Thursday evening is about as quiet a flight as you’ll ever find yourself on, packed as it is with a couple of hundred people who have spent the last four days redefining the phrase: “burning the candle at both ends”.

“All the best business is done in the evenings”; “the networking is amazing”; and “it’s great to talk to potential customers in a relaxed environment over a glass of wine”. These are just three of the phrases you will hear a lot in Barcelona as we all try to post-rationalise staying out till 3 in the morning after a day trawling round the show, then dragging ourselves out of bed a few hours later to do it all over again.

The event is, as anyone who have ever attended knows, a monster, attracting around 80,000 visitors over the course of the four days. As the mob(ile industry) descends on the city this weekend, its taxi drivers will be rubbing their hands with almost as much glee as its pickpockets.

The move to the show’s new venue a couple of years ago divided opinion. On the one hand, the new place is somewhat soulless compared to the old one. On the other, it does benefit from the fact that Hall 1 is next to Hall 2, which is itself next to Hall 3, which leads nicely to Hall 4, which…you get the picture.

The old venue was quirky and charming, and provided a great backdrop for video interviews, but I’ve lost count of the number of pre-arranged meetings I didn’t make because the meeting room, stand or Hall I was supposed to be heading for didn’t seem to exist.

Connected cars
So what will we see at this year’s MWC? Much excitement around the Internet of Things, wearable tech, connected cities and connected cars no doubt. That said, on the car front, other than Ford and General Motors, plus Porsche, which is demonstrating a connected car experience in the Innovation City in partnership with Vodafone, I can’t see any other car makers exhibiting at the event. I’ve tried punching in the names of the other big manufacturers – Volkswagen, Toyota, Daimler, Nissan etc – into the exhibitor search box, but there’s no sign of ‘em, which is something of a surprise, given that Ford made its bow at the event fully three years ago. Maybe there’ll all too busy working on their driverless vehicles to worry about showing off a few in-car apps which, in comparison, already look a bit old hat.

Expect new handsets and tablets from the major manufacturers – let’s not forget that MWC was originally conceived as, and still predominantly is, a show where mobile operators go shopping for the coolest devices that will help them attract more customers, which is why some of the cooler stuff around wearables and the Internet of Things is more likely to be found at smaller, unaffiliated events around the city, rather than at MWC itself.

But don’t count Apple among those handset makers - Apple doesn’t do MWC - nor for that matter BlackBerry, which is not at the event this year, and whose situation looks ever-more desperate. A report from eMarketer released today reveals that in the UK, BlackBerry now has just 700,000 users, 44 per cent down on last year, and equating to a market share of 1.9 per cent, compared to Android’s 56.2 per cent, iOS’s 32.2 per cent, and Windows Phone’s 8.5 per cent. How the mighty have fallen.

As for the rest, 5G will be much talked-about, and you can expect the usual noise and hype around advertising. Among the ‘traditional’ ad networks, even though few of them seem to like the term these days, Google AdMob, Millennial Media and Opera Mediaworks are exhibiting, InMobi are not. As for the digital programmatic specialists, they are well represented, with PubMatic, OpenX, The Rubicon Project and xAd all in attendance.

Other than that, who knows what surprises lay in store. Just remember, if you’re heading out there, back up your PC before you go, try to get to bed before midnight at least once during the week and look out for the latest print edition of Mobile Marketing for when you’re all networked out and just want to chill with a beer and some quality reading matter. And for those lucky/unlucky enough not to be going, stay tuned to the site for all the news from the event. We hope you enjoy our coverage.


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