Mobile World Congress is heading fast toward us and already the Tweet-streams are filled with copious MWC-related conversations.
If you’re not heading to Barcelona, think yourself lucky. Although I haven’t yet made it to a Mobile World Congress before (on account of boycotting their no-blogger policies of years gone by), I have spent the last few years being spectacularly unimpressed, generally, with the wares presented.
I’ve also not been that turned on by the churnalism coming out of the conference. There is — or there was — precious little in the way of analysis going on.
Serious looking industry analysts in their finest Marks & Spencer suits acclaim the latest rubbish released from the top organisations. Bored-to-hell professional journalists who couldn’t a flying fluck about the mobile industry hunt for quotes before churning a story out to the masses.
The professional journalists need the ‘themes’ and ‘broad themes’ — they need to be told what to say. Not directly. But you know, they need to go on camera and tell the great unwashed that ‘it’s all about mobile TV this year’. Or write up the latest handset manufacturer’s product announcement. You know, knock it out in 20 minutes with a bit of cutting and pasting. Bish bosh and off to the Microsoft party to get stark raving drunk.
The usual tripe.
Enter Mobile Industry Review.
Our agenda is as following:
– We’ll tell you what we think is rubbish. I seem to spend a lot of my time writing negative things of late. I find myself often calling out the bigger companies that simply are not performing. I do this a) because I’m frustrated with their lack of performance and b) because precious few others do. I’m going to make a conscious effort to ensure we deliver more positive stuff. That’s as long as we aren’t fed bollocks.
– We’ve not arranged a ton of interviews. Instead we’re going to see what takes our fancy. Literally. We discovered Scalado (the brilliant imaging software company) that way. We’ll walk the floors and see what’s happening.
– We’ll bring you frequent updates. At least, that’s what I’m thinking. We might change this on the day, but all things being equal, we’ll be posting images and text updates to the site live. I’m aiming for an update every hour.
– We’ll bring you top quality video. We’re taking three cameras. The genius HD Canon XH A1 and two top of the range HD Sanyo Xacti cameras.
Our team is the best in the industry. Bar none.
Here’s who we are taking, in alphabetical order:
One of the brightest analytical minds I know. When he was with Accenture, he was the chap who constructed the business models and business case decks for the board directors of the likes of Vodafone, British Telecom and so on. Sage people with grey hair nod in baffled agreement before Ed. Give them a few hours and they’ll finally get what he means. He’s often about a triathlon in front of most people. An interview with Ed can, frankly, be a rather uncomfortable experience if you’re a bit shaky on your business model. Because he’ll either agree with you or tell you exactly where you’re screwing up. He’ll do it politely and with good grace. He’s not an arse. But he knows his stuff and when he’s firing on all cylinders it’s quite something to behold.
Ed is a keen, keen mobile industry enthusiast. Couple his pure joy at mobile connectivity with his business acumen and you’ve got a brilliant combination ready to cover Mobile World Congress.
Ed’s primary handset is a Blackberry Bold.
Now and again we’ll get an enquiry from a public relations professional wondering if we can do an interview or a product review. If we’re up for it, I’ll sometimes ask Dan to take a look. And before I do that, the PR will typically want to know a little bit about Dan. ‘How techy is he?’ they’ll ask, ‘Will he be ok with technical terms?’
It’s at that point that I explain that Dan has an RFID chip embedded in his right wrist. So that when he sits down by his computer, it automatically unlocks as he waves his hand over it. Or when he gets home, he can open his door with a glancing wave of his hand. Dan is one of the most technologically capable people I have ever met. He’s the chap you want to be stuck in a post-apocalyptic zombie hellzone with. And he carries gaffer tape and one of those do-everything better-than-swiss-army-knife things everywhere with him.
Dan’s primary handset is an Apple iPhone 3G.
Known as ‘the suit’ on the MIR team, Ben is rarely seen without a tie — although the MIR Show in Rome and the upcoming MWC will certainly be exceptions. A technology consultant by day, Ben is one of the most thorough, analytical and thoughtful chaps I know. His occasional reviews and analysis are heavily well regarded — plus he’s a really nice guy too.
He’s phenomenally well read — and especially with the mobile industry. That’s why it’s typically Ben that asks the questions on our MIR Show video coverage.
There is a brilliant, brilliant piece of footage of Ben interviewing with the Marketing Director of a leading handset manufacturer and catching him out spectacularly. We don’t go around aiming to do this on purpose, I should point out — and Ben is the last chap in the room who’d like to be associated with deliberately skewering someone. The Marketing Director simply didn’t know his stuff — about his own company. We didn’t publish that footage as it was highly damaging.
So if Ed can tell you where the business model is failing and Dan will tell you why it’s not working technically, Ben will ask you very politely about your recently announced strategy to fix this.
Which brings me to James Whatley, the hyperactive legend known as Whatleydude on just about any social network you can name. James is representing SpinVox at the event and as such, he won’t be a formal part of the team during the show. (All the MIR team have work elsewhere because the model doesn’t support their exorbitant salaries). SpinVox will be, I’m sure, content for James to spend a few minutes giving his highly valued perspective of the congress in the evenings.
The Whatleydude party trick is the ‘normob walkabout’. That’s typically where we unleash him on normal mobile users. He will then zoom around them asking to see their handsets and — this is the science bit — identifying almost all of them (model number, manufacturer) real time. It makes for fascinating coverage as James asks each person what they think about their handset, how they use it and so on.
James has a highly consumer-focused interest in mobile technology. He wants to know what he can DO with it and how it will help him connect. So when you put a concept or a piece of technology into the hands of James he’ll tell you exactly what he thinks of it — from an attuned user viewpoint. Hugely useful.
So that’s the team. Apart, they’d all deliver super coverage. Together we’ll be bringing you some pure genius coverage.
Blog posts will be here on Mobile Industry Review and sent out to Twitter via @MIReview.
Dan Lane is on: @danlane
Ben Smith is on: @bensmithuk
James Whatley is on: @whatleydude
And I’m on: @ew4n