A very different Mobile World Congress (MWC) week has ended for me. Because I wasn’t there. Having attended a trade show or two in my 17 years at Nokia and mobile industry, I can’t say I really miss the insanity (which includes the preparation) that makes February definitively the shortest month of the year. Nor do I think I missed any news. In fact, I probably was able to follow the actual news better at home via Webcasts, tweets and blogs than on the ground. But, of course, the beat just doesn’t feel fully the same. And I miss that. A little bit. But only a little bit.
The Mobile World Congress, like many other trade shows, keeps on going and getting bigger. But I wonder for how long, or does it need to change. Looking at the news, it seems to be not that optimal launch pad for new stuff (as I predicted in my September post) and looks more like a non-time-sensitive PR and meeting festival. Those being operations always under scrutiny for return on investment
The state of the industry might also not help. Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile put it accurately in his “MWC Day 1 – Writer’s Block” post:
I very much doubt that I am alone in sitting here at the end of day 1 staring a blank screen and wondering what to fill the page with. There were a few announcements but pretty much all of them were about evolving what is already there rather than any big change. Therein lies the essence of where the mobile phone industry finds itself in 2013.
Ari Jaaksi (previously of Nokia MeeGo, then HP and now at McAfee) had a little rougher take in his tweet.
That is a little harsh, though funny (especially if you know Ari’s sense of humor), but there’s also some unmistakable truth in the words. Now this isn’t new. The normally introverted Finns celebrated wildly Hockey World Championship both in 1995 and 2011, even though most of the world’s best players were all tied in the NHL playoffs. The champion of which, by the way, calls themselves the World Champion. As does the winner of the NBA, National Basketball Association. And, the music history will never forget that Michael Jackson had the audacity to record We Are the World, without the contemporary Finnish artists of the era being in the choir.
But let’s move on before somebody calls United Nations for rescue.
Because, by far the more interesting observation around MWC – which probably would have escaped me on the fake-FIRA floor – is that simultaneuosly there was a lot of media attention around iWatch and Google Glass, both being concepts that severely challenge the “job to be done” of smartphones.
The storyline on both being, now quoting Sergey Brin
The cellphone is a nervous habit. I whip this out and look as if I have something important to do. [Add Product Placement here] takes that away.”
Co-incidence? I think not.