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Mobile World Congress February 20, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, gbc green, green marketing, green pr, information technology.
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Mobile World Congress 2009 is over. GBC visited Barcelona to find out the latest developments and trends. So what stood out for us from our trawl of the stands, hospitality suites, and bars?

1. As Big as Usual but Quieter with an Air of Caution

The show remains huge and walking its many halls, zones, suites, hidden nooks and crannies is a major workout.

So GSMA’s claim that the mobile industry could be one of the few sectors capable of weathering the downturn looks credible.

But, the overall mood from our poll of big brands and emerging tech companies was times are tough (no surprises there) and many saw no respite during 2009. And the show felt a little quieter especially on Monday.


Quiet enough on Monday for this Fira resident to doze at MWC

Quiet enough on Monday for this Fira resident to doze at MWC


2. Naked Buildings Everywhere!
One client made an excellent point. For the first time in her many visits to MWC (and 3GSM) she could see the buildings around the Fira. The mega advertising hoardings had vanished from the hotels and office blocks fronting onto the Fira entrance. So had the heavy advertising in the Metro exits and entrance ways; and even in the Fira itself. Overall the view down The Avenue looked more spartan and bare.

Less advertising down the Avenue

Less advertising down the Avenue

But the gloss hadn’t gone away inside the exhibition halls. There appears to be no cutbacks in stand design and a powerful commercial desire to impress customers (and competitors) with massive physical displays of brand strength and technical brilliance. Notably the national stands of France and Ireland set a high standard for how they are laid out and managed.

France stand dominates the Hall

France stand dominates the Hall

3. No Downturn in Good Ideas

MWC has always celebrated bright ideas and this year’s awards for the best products and services seemed more significant than usual given the surrounding economic gloom. It was gratifying to see the GSMA judges share out the honours among big brands and exciting smaller players like Newbay Software who won best service deployment for their innovative LifeCache product.

Recession can be the catalyst for new innovations especially as companies fight harder for customers with more exciting products and services that also offer better value for money.

So, there was no let up on smarter devices packing in more features and multiple services, plus exploit the ready availability of mobile Internet and broadband access.

This year’s twist was a winding up of the excitement about mobile operating systems that promise to cut the cost of mobile application development while unleashing maximum creativity. LiMo made its big splash before the show opened its doors, while the launch of a new mobile software force Myriad Software (a marriage of Purple Labs and Esmertec) and the crowds on the HTC stand playing with the Android phone were talking points during the show.

The big brands also got behind the mobile application explosion with Nokia and Microsoft making big announcements. DeviceAnywhere, which takes the pain out of developing apps for multiple handsets, followed its pre-show Motorola announcement with agreements with Spanish telco giant Telefonica and top mobile content and games developer Zed.

The push for innovation extended beyond handsets and included technologies that help enterprises control OPEX and improve customer experience. International BSS solution provider Martin Dawes Systems came to MWC having helped launch in-flight mobile broadband services in the USA.  Kabira, which provides extreme transaction processing software solutions to global enterprises, used MWC to showcase how its technology is managing over 700 million telecom customers and processing over 15 billion card payments worldwide.

4. Green Shoots?

Sustainability was a theme of the show even though many would argue that the environment has fallen down the industry agenda. Alcatel-Lucent launched an Alternative Energy Programme and also a Dynamic Power Save solution to be installed in some 500,000 base station units. Smart Communications won the first ever Green Mobile Award for its promotion of  wind and solar energy to power cell tower sites in remote areas.

And of course the GSMA announced plans for a universal recharger that’ll use half the energy required today.  The question is why do we have to wait until 2012 for it to be universally available?

Even though the downturn is overshadowing the environmental agenda, the prospects for green telecoms technology are probably brighter than they first appear. The best initiatives deliver operational cost savings and make it cheaper to extend network coverage as well as producing real reductions in carbon emissions.

5. And Finally ..

Evening falls at MWC09

Evening falls at MWC09

MWC may be less busy and less glossy but it remains an exciting focal point for the global mobile industry. MWC 2010 will be an interesting visit to find out how successfully the industry really does weather the next 12 months of economic turbulence.