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MIR goes to Val d’Isere, France (and Happy New Year!)

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It’s Ewan here.

Happy New Year to you!

In fact, may your new year be mobilised professionally, efficiently and to your personal fiscal benefit.

I have just returned from a semi-refreshing Festive break and Monday the 5th of January is beckoning with a reasonably enthusiastic smile.

Over the past few months, I’ve been running around all over the place so it was useful to have a few days of downtime over Christmas.

That said, I did take a few laptops with me. Four laptops, to be exact. And, I think, 8 different handsets. Enough to raise eyebrows from the security scanning folk at the Eurostar terminal.

One of the laptops was the LG X110 which is new on the block. Chris over at the LG blog whacked me it over before the Christmas break. Even before it arrived I’d hatched a plan of taking both the top of the range LG Renoir handset — and the LG X110 ultra-light, ultra-super-dooper laptop, to the top of a mountain and checking out the possibilities of using all-LG equipment to work remotely.

Over the Christmas period, I was in Val d’Isere, you see. You know you’ve made it when you’re holidaying in ValD, darling. So people kept telling me.

Ostensibly the concept behind relaxing was to ‘go skiing’ now and again in between doing work. This can actually be quite a workable lifestyle. Indeed when I was in Heavenly by Lake Tahoe, I managed to get quite a lot done, getting up at 7am, skiing until 5pm (with a suitable break for a huge authentic — ie. fat — American burger), having a nice meal until 9pm and then working UK hours until 3am. I managed to do that for about a week with the aid of copious caffeine pills.

Thankfully during this Festive period I planned to do lots of work — but at a manageable pace and without the aid of additional caffeine pills. After a while on these ‘NoDoz’ US caffeine pills, I felt my brain running very fast but in a kind of greyscale.

So skiing.

I went to ValD, darling. I took the train. This is one of the more sensible methods of getting to the resort.

Val d’Isere, if you’re not that familiar, is a posh ‘large village’ nestled at the top of the French Alps. Mont Blanc is just around the corner and, if you’re feeling lucky, you’ll typically get a good amount of snow in season. The village is arrayed with tons of over-priced hotels, chalets, boutiques, ski-rental places and loads of bars and restaurants. They’ve got the ski lifestyle sorted — particularly if you’re smart enough to book a hotels or chalet just 10ft from the main ski-lift. Head up the top and at each lift stop there’s usually a set of mini restaurants and bars offering up all sorts of delicacies for eyepopping costs.

4 quid for a can of coke, for example.

Fair enough, I thought to myself as I stood in the queue looking at the menu board. They’ve had to get that can of coke all the way up the Alps to Val d’Isere, then some chappy has had to drive it another 2,000ft up the mountain in on a snowmachine thing … and then arrange some electricity to cool it for you. As if the surrounding snow couldn’t do that.

I selected Val d’Isere as a destination for a few reasons.

1. You can go there and still work. It’s got lots of connectivity despite being near the top of the planet.

2. The resort is based around one key activity – doing stuff in snow. Skiing or snowboarding. Focus.

3. The resort is a well-oiled machine. Well trodden. It’s got all the facilities you’d need to work remotely from a decent supermarket to proper hotels and ‘business facilities’.

4. Their GSM network(s) are well known to be of pretty shit-hot quality. I’m talking base-stations up the mountain and 5-bar signal right at the top of the mountain.

5. The resort is stupidly expensive. If my 4 quid for a can of coke didn’t get your wallet screaming with panic, try 400 pounds a night for a 3-star average hotel.

The expensive element is the major reason I went. Not because I want to blow my cash on silly reasons and not because I wanted to hang with the Etonians and Russian super-rich. No. I went because I thought it would be a super, super microcosm to observe the development of the mobile industry. That, and the mountain air.

I frequently place myself in weird and wonderful locations to sample the ‘mobile life’. Witness, for example, my trials and tribulations in the North East of England (Hartlepool) or visiting a T-Mobile store in the back-end — no, arse-end of one of Scotland’s roughest cities. (They *didn’t* have the N95 in stock, by the way).

I thought it’d be rather interesting to see just how the Val d’Isere lot used their handsets. What handsets they had. How many of them were making calls whilst roaming, what sort of things they were doing on their handsets and so on.

I’m pleased to report I was not wrong and I shall be bringing you a series of posts written in Val d’Isere and reflecting upon it.

A few tasters of what I’m planning:

The iPhone Revolution
At the top of the pile, the mobile industry is changing very fast. Every third person I saw was carrying an iPhone 3G. Old folk, young folk, people with children. French folk, German folk, British folk. I couldn’t get over how many people were using them.

LG’s connected experience – the LG Renoir and the LG X110 ultra light laptop
I took them both all the way up to the top of the Madeline Express ski lift in Val d’Isere and had a play.

The Val d’Isere iPhone Application
Heh. This I’ve had in my mind for a while…

The Toughphone XP3
Yes I took it to the top of the Alps. Yes I stamped on it repeatedly with my shiny new horribly unforgiving Ski boots. Yes I slammed it with an errant ski and stabbed it with my ski poles.

Skiing with the G1
I took the G1 skiing with me.

ShoZuing on the mountain
I had a wicked time with my N95 8GB (my primary handset). I smiled benevolently as Mr Vodafone took shitloads of cash from me in exchange for transferring my data whilst roaming on their SFR network. Joy.

Flucked off with Vodafone Passport
75p per call plus your normal bundle minutes is a great roaming concept. Provided I don’t get cut off after 5 seconds.

The iPhone Facebook Skiing 18 year olds
If they’re anywhere near representative of where the market will be in 3-5 years, it’s going to get rather exciting.

Laptops in Roxys
Did absolutely everyone going to Val d’Isere take a laptop with them? Seems like it. And they’re all sat in the cafes on Facebook and Google.

Before anyone protests, I’d like to point out that I’m very aware that the people hanging around the streets, bars, restaurants and slopes of Val d’Isere represent a completely different segment of the global mobile market than, for example, those living in the slums of Cape Town. It’s not often that I take a look at this market segment.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. Standby…

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

9 replies on “MIR goes to Val d’Isere, France (and Happy New Year!)”

As a native North Easterner can I just say that Hartlepool is in no way a true representation of the region. Girls generally wait until after they've reached the age of 16 to have babies up here.

Kthxbai 🙂

As a native North Easterner can I just say that Hartlepool is in no way a true representation of the region. Girls generally wait until after they've reached the age of 16 to have babies up here.

Kthxbai 🙂

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