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Report from Barcelona

Posted by terrencebarr on February 20, 2008 at 1:05 AM PST


I did a brief trip to Barcelona, Spain, last week to attend a couple of events:

1. Mobile World Congress (MWC)

2. Mobile Monday Peer Awards

3. Mobile Jam Session

Considering I was only there for a little more than 48 hours that is probably a packed agenda ;-)

Mobile World Congress

I'm a bit torn about MWC. My distinct impression is that it is too large for it's own good. With almost 60,000 (!) attendees there were lines everywhere, the halls and walkways were crowded, and on the first day there was a multi-hour wait to pick up your badge. And it's expensive too, ranging from Euro 599 for an exhibit pass all the way to around Euro 3500 for a full conference pass.

I had only an exhibit pass so I can't judge the value of the conference portion but charging that kind of money for access to exhibits is kind of ridiculous considering it's really just a PR event and advertising for the participating companies. Ouch! And on top of that I found the selection of exhibitors to be fairly indiscriminate and unfocused - I saw quite a few products and companies that were only very loosely, if at all, relevant to the mobile space. So with all those booths crammed into the halls, the crowds, and the sheer size of it was impossible to wander around to try and to get an impression of the latest developments and products - but that's what exhibits are for, right?

Another letdown, as far as I can tell, was that MWC this year was lacking any significant announcements or industry news, except maybe for this head-scratcher by AOL. Overall, I think the organizers behind MWC might want to reconsider their concept. If MWC is all about meeting the rest of the industry and doing deals, fine, but then focus the event on that rather than trying to be a crowded conference and overpriced exhibition.

Mobile Monday Peer Awards

Next, I stopped by Mobile Monday Peer Awards which was held in a very cool venue: A gigantic tent with stylish interiors, an espresso bar, lounge, and movie theatre. I listened to a dozen or so pitches by established as well as newly funded startup companies in the mobile space, some of which I already knew and some contenders I heard of the first time. However, overall I thought the majority of the ideas were a bit weak in terms of usefulness, clarity of concept, or business models. The winners (buzzd, Funambol, kimia, and taptu) are certainly noteworthy and innovative but as a whole I came away a bit disappointed. Maybe next year the lineup will be better.

Mobile Jam Session

Mobile Jam Session is an event that was put together by WIP Connector's Caroline Lewko and her team. It is a developer-focused event with a unique mix of panel discussions and improv sessions to bring people in the industry together, network, and discuss and brainstorm topics and issues across the whole technology and business spectrum.

Caroline and her team did a fantastic job of getting the right people together: CEOs, CTOs, VPs, business folks, and lots of developers from across the ecosystem, the conversations were excellent, and the venue was awesome (sweeping views over the city and the Mediterranean sea). Two thumbs up - especially considering the event is free and it was being held the very first time!

The picture up at the top shows me (next to the whiteboard) next to Vincent Berge (CEO of Mobile Distillery) and Vodafone Betavine's Oscar Gutierrez together with a group of folks during an improv session on the topic of "Mobile operating systems and platforms". More pictures from Mobile Jam Session are here.

Overall, an extremely worthwhile event. I assume there will be a Mobile Jam Session next year. If so then you won't want to miss it!

Next, it's off to Hyderabad, India

This year's Sun Tech Days in India will again be in Hyderabad. Last year was great ... Sun Tech Days have become the largest developer event in India with a crowd of around 15000. The enthusiasm and energy of the attendees is awesome. If you're there next week please see me. I'd love to know what you are up to!


-- Terrence