49.000 suits in line for taxis, food and mobiles!
So, back home safely from another February week in Barcelona. Were my expectations met? Well, for a starter the weather was not as one would hope as Tlaloc detained the city and let go of his grip only the very last day. But other than that it was a pretty fruitful week in terms of meeting friends, colleagues and business partners, though I think I’ll shoot the next guy who says he is a market leader….
But how about the more serious expectations I voiced last week before boarding the plane to Barcelona (see blog posting right below)?
1) LTE; indeed it was omnipresent and probably the most used and seen acronym in this three-letter nirvana of ours. Most system vendors had live test beds with LTE (Ericsson demoing 1Gbit/s), most handset suppliers showed a line-up of LTE dongles (including water proof ones!) and some even displayed plain handsets with LTE capabilities, and of course every radio testing and network tuning company pronounced their LTE readiness and expertise. But different from previous experiences of flat-out optimism you didn’t get the feeling that the industry is losing it mind (again, read ‘3G launch’) and suggesting to let go of everything else and make a full-fledged leap into the next generation. At too many previous MWCs we have faced over-hyped acronyms that later on have proven to be nothing more than just a hype, or at best too early for their own good. So maybe this more careful approach will allow expectations and reality to stay closely hand in hand. We know for sure that LTE performs quite well for being a new technology (see our earlier postings on the subject), but at the same time the creep-crawl-walk-run approach is the sensible one this time around, as well.
2) Google’s Eric Schmidt; Maybe it was not as Kennedy in Berlin, but he certainly was the main attraction of the event. He humbly embraced the mobile industry and its advancements, and expressed his commitment to be a part of it (although being provoked and questioned from the floor by a Danish Consultant …). He (Eric) also noted something we have voiced in our predictions some time ago i.e. that North America may be on the verge of taking over from Europe as the driving force behind the continued mobile applications and device evolution.
3) App planet; Well, if there had to be one hype area maybe this is the one. Applications and app stores being the name of the game right now, this much pre-announced initiative carried quite some burden of expectations. Indeed, praise and applauds to all the innovative developers in Hall 7 that wrestled each other to stick out, but unfortunately many of them probably passed unnoticed, or close to, very undeservingly. Not because of bad ideas but because of a poor floor structure and an inexplicable belief that it’s more important to display the company name rather than what you actually do. The hype around application stores has to a large extent been fueled by Apple’s and Google’s successful entry in this space. So who are the winners when also Ericsson, Samsung and WAC (24 Operators plus GSMA) and others launch their respective flavors and initiatives of application stores? Well, we believe that in this case ‘first mover’ really do mean advantage.
As a final remark I think one other observation is worth thinking about; 10 years ago, when the MWC was still in Cannes (those were the days my friend…), all leading system vendors at the time (Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, Siemens, Alcatel, Lucent and Nortel) had both handsets and infrastructure in their portfolios. Today you find that at the Chinese vendors only. What can we make out of that? Haven’t got the faintest idea, but it’s for sure an interesting development to start thinking about.