Another Mobile World Congress goes by. Did anything really happen?
Now that MWC 2012 in Barcelona is over and we’ve had a little time over the weekend to digest all the interesting meetings, new products and a disturbingly large amount of tapas and excellent local beverages consumed during the event, it’s a good time to reflect a bit.
One could probably write an extensive novel about everything that happened during the week, but I’d like to use this opportunity to mention two high level trends that were very visible this year.
It’s a zoo out there.
Looking at how Mobile World Congress has evolved over the years it’s more apparent every year that the event is more and more about consumer facing products and mainstream media attention. Industry insiders naturally still attend and a huge amount of important meetings happen behind the scenes, but the public face of MWC is that of a consumer event.
Perfect evidence of this is the Google booth in Hall 8. Like last year, it was a wonderland of Android plush toys, collectable pins, figurines, ice cream, candy and smoothies. It’s a brilliant marketing strategy. I mean where else can you see highly paid mobile professionals practically fighting over funny little green toys?
On the mobile device front there were more cores, more gigahertzes, more memory, more network speed, better cameras and more pixels than ever before, but to me everything presented on the hardware front seemed like old ideas with added volume. As it turns out, every flagship Android handset is still a carbon copy of each other and every Windows Phone is just another Windows Phone with a little different packaging.
This brings us to the dilemma of modern mobile ecosystems. How can any device manufacturer really differentiate in a world of commoditized operating systems and chipsets? At the moment it sure looks a lot like the PC manufacturer scene in the late 90s.
The new normal.
The flipside of this coin is that when mobile devices and operating systems become stable and boring, it leaves room for more innovation and creation of solutions and services that couldn’t even be imagined just a few years ago. It happened with PCs and web and it’s already happening in mobile.
With many of our cross industry customers visiting MWC for the first time this year, we all had many eye-opening moments that hopefully lead to new ways of thinking about channels and services in sometimes surprising areas.
Mobile already is the new normal.