Day Two from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

This is a day 2 review of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from Stephen King, CEO of Mob4Hire, who’s company is part of the Canadian Pavilion.

*Whew* Day 2 and fatigue is already setting in. Trade show hours of 9:00 am to 7:00 pm combined with after hours parties makes for some long busi-days.

Spent a bit of time at the Blackberry Developer Conference this morning. They launched their new Blackberry Enterprise Server Express which will expand their reach into mobile users who need both business and personal integration on their mobile device… apparently, corporate mobile users are getting tired of carrying around 2 phones so this is welcome news. Tyler Lessard, VP Global Alliances and Developer Relations, was very passionate about mobile developers creating “SuperApps” for Blackberry smartphones… the kind of app that will be on the phone all day long and be in constant use. Their key messages centered around integration to their new 5.0 API’s, which offers developers a tremendous toolset to integrate with both the Blackberry pre-loaded apps (like Calendar) and architecture (like a graphics API), as well as operator’s, for example, with a billing API. 

RIM stresses the quality of these apps are paramount, not the quantity. This is apparent in Blackberry App World, which currently has about 2,300 apps available vs. Apple’s 140,000. Don’t be fooled… there are 250,000 mobile developers in the Blackberry Developer Network who are doing amazing things, which is something we don’t hear a lot about… many of these are programming enterprise integration and productivity apps, and not important consumer apps like iFart which tend to steal headlines.

I’ll give you an example.

Syncamatic is a product from PureInbox, an Edmonton company that’s sharing space with us in the Pavilion. This is a great app that syncs Blackberry, Mac and PC contact, notes, calendar and tasks, without having to worry about a backend corporate office  server. So, for example, I can add an appointment on my Blackberry, and it shows up on my Mac calender… finally!!! (Most small businesses don’t have backend servers, so this is a big deal). They are getting about 5,000 downloads a week right now. Stay tuned for a webcast from PureInbox in March for an super-important announcement from the company.

Calgary’s Widality, with their number one rated business app on Blackberry App World, Momentum Call Tracker, while not at the show, was also highlighted in the keynote speech as an innovator of integrated business processes.

The other Alberta company in the Pavillion is Edmonton’s Cavitad. They come from the handset hardware direction, offering unique new antenna devices whose performance kicks serious butt. 

Let’s see … some mobile news worth mentioning is the merger of the operating platforms from Intel (Moblin) and Nokia (Maemo) creating the new MeeGo platform (based on Linux). While this may seem like more techno-geek-babble, it’s important since Nokia is BY FAR the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, despite what Apple may want you to believe. 

I had my Mob4Hire interview with bnetTV in the afternoon with the ever effervescent Michelle Sklar. As always, bnetTV is in the thick of things, and is the web broadcaster of choice when it comes to keeping up with all the great companies and startups who are thriving in the mobile revolution. They usually take 3 or 4 days to get through the production of these spots after the show, so look for them on their website next week. While bnetTV moved most of their operations to New York last year, I still think of them as a Calgary success story.

All five of us Alberta companies are proof that you can be successful on the global stage… investors and would-be entrepreneurs take note!!!

Mobile Money, eCommerce and billing is front and centre today, following on the heels of last holiday season where 1.5 million items were bought on eBay using mobile phones worldwide. In fact, mobile payments surged 650% in 2009 compared to 2008. From my perspective, this is the future of the credit card… being able to use my phone and carrier as payments at cashiers, so I really wonder where VISA is in this whole mobile money thing. There are LOTS of players emerging in this space, and I suspect we’ll see triple digit growth in this niche of the industry for several years to come.

An interesting mobile sidepoint. I destroyed my Blackberry Bold by accident two days ago (my NEW one… aarrggghhh!), and I went searching for a replacement on the Avenida’s of Barcelona. It was SOOOO nice to walk into a store, and buy a phone without having to worry about the 3 year carrier subscription and contract-to-lock-us-in, like we do in Canada. In Europe, you can buy a phone and get a SIM separately from whatever carrier you choose. This allowed my to take my Rogers SIM and put it into a new little cheap handset that’ll do the job until I get back to Calgary. Of course, had I been with Telus or Bell, I’d have been in a real pickle… since it’s a CDMA carrier, there’s no SIM in the phone, and thus, would have had no solution at all. Of course, in Canada we have the privilege of paying for THE MOST EXPENSIVE CARRIER COSTS in the developed world, so maybe it all balances out. (that’s sarcasm, in case you didn’t pick it up).

Can you imagine not having a cellphone for a week? It’d be like my left arm was cut off. Not to mention all the stuff I’d miss.

For example, I got a call inviting me out tonight to the always-wicked party put on by industry news insider, GoMo News (and sponsored by Smaato). It’s THE event for mobile marketers, advertisers, mobile search, mobile barcode and others in the mobile application space. I’d have written this blog post after the party, but since there’s tons of free food and drinks, I may not get back to our apartment until the wee hours, and my fingers may slur.

Finally, I’m pretty excited to see the keynote by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google in about a half hour. I’ll give you an update on what’s up there tomorrow. Google is also having a Android developer conference tomorrow as well (one of the many shows-within-the-show that are happening which makes it always feel like you’re missing something else important!). 

More mobile tomorrow…