MWC: What we have learned today

Despite being an ‘exhibition’, Mobile World Congress is a terrible place for firms to actually do any real communicating – to customers, partners or media.  It’s even worse if you hope to actually gather any information.  As a venue Fira is nothing short of incredible – perched on the hill-side overlooking Barcelona a small mobile industry town has sprung up… There’s a Nokia stand the size of my ‘apartment’ (well, several stands), a TV studio, a whole T-Mobile marquee and restaurants by the dozen all with super-bright lighting for the many cameras.  Plenty of dazzle, but the aim of most companies seems merely to be to physically hand-over or read-out (in a press conferences) as much information as possible. It’s nearly impossible to consume and often fairly soul-less.  Of course, the seasoned journos and bloggers know this and seek out face-to-face briefings, but it’s confusing that so many companies are investing (obviously substantial) amounts in making announcements and publicising their products.

But it’s far from a dead-loss… the real value of these events is the unplanned meetings.  Like Andrea, the Italian industry analyst, we met this morning whilst marching around Barcelona’s marina event in search of a Nokia event.  Fresh back from Rome, I still couldn’t understand why there was so muh talk of mobile TV (DVB-H) from Italy, but little evidence of any real usage.  Andrea assured us we should believe our eyes – Vodafone and TIM were leaving their mobile TV offering to go stale… un-marketed and un-loved.  Three, although more actively pushing the service (as we witnessed in their stores) was struggling financially.  The official subscriber numbers, he said, were misleading – they represent customers receiving free access to mobile TV services as part of a subscription, not a source of additional revenue for the operators.

And so, in 5 minutes, more useful information than all of the heavily scripted and stage-managed Microsoft event that followed… Perhaps we should scrap all our briefings and hang round the bar a bit more… Hmmmm….

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

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