MWC Barcelona 2010 Wrap-Up

This article is the final blog post from 2010 MWC Barcelona week from Stephen King, CEO of Mob4Hire.

I’m sitting in the plane flying from Barcelona to Amsterdam as I write this. I’m a very tired boy from a week of non-stop meetings, non-stop trade floor traffic, non-stop major announcements, and non-stop partying, er, um, networking.

The wrap-up of this year’s show can be summed up in one word: Apps

Apps were everywhere. App widgets, middle-ware platforms, O/S announcements (Bada, MeeGo, Windows Phone 7, Linux Mobile:LiMo, Android), new handsets with new Apps, carrier App cross-platform architectures, App testing, App porting, App delivery platforms, App Stores, App Developer Conferences, App API’s.

Apps. Apps. Apps.

In addition to my Day 1 and Day 2 wrap-ups, here’s what happened the rest of the week.

In his keynote address, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, evangelized: “Google Embraces Mobile” … specifically, Google embraces mobile that connects to the cloud. For a long-time computer guy like me, it was very reminiscent of Bill Gate’s rally cry circa late ’90’s: in which Mr. Gates says that Microsoft will “… help make the Web lifestyle a reality. This is a lifestyle in which people take advantage of the Internet to lead more informed and productive lives, and have more fun.”

Now, it’s about the mobile lifestyle; one where lines between desktops, tv screens, the web and mobile are blurred, and the handset is the intimate personal and powerful computing device that brings it all into focus. Companies that DO NOT have a mobile strategy to engage their customers will be quickly obsolete … this is not about ten years from now. It’s two years from now. And, Google, amongst many others, are racing to be dominant in this new world order. I heard one statement that resonated with me this week “A lot of shareholder wealth will be created and transferred during the mobile revolution.”

For example, in my Day 2 post, as I talked about the explosion of mobile eCommerce payments, I pondered “Where is VISA?” As it turns out, they announced yesterday.  It might be too late already … companies like PayPal and Boku have established beachheads in the new world order.

Anyway, Schmidt also offered an olive branch to operators … Google is willing to work together with operators who can offer a great deal of expertise … he doesn’t want their destiny to be a “dumb pipe” of data to the end user. Of course, taken in a slightly different context, and perhaps in the context it was intended, operators who fail to play nicely with the likes of Google and Apple will fulfill their destiny.

The term “Frienemies” keeps resonating in my head.

In any event, carriers are reacting in two ways to apps; the first is a rush to provide the infrastructure to support all the bandwidth that we’ll be consuming … 4G / LTE technologies. The second is the realization that they are losing to the handset manufacturers and O/S’s app stores when it comes to App sales and distribution. The carrier consortium announced on day 1 of the conference was augmented by various other thoughts from carriers through the week … the CEO of Telstra Australia predicts that the fragmented mobile ecosystem will continue to worsen unless they help mobile developers solve the daunting task of developing software for 1,000’s of different types of handsets, since the developers are shouldering much of that burden.

Which is a good thing, since most app announcements from big brands follow this formula: The BBC announced this week that their Mobile Strategy is to provide content to their viewers through apps on many platforms … for the iPhone first, then Blackberry, followed by Android and so on. It’s a tough way to make a living for already stretched small mobile development teams.

Apps. Apps. Apps.

To finish off the Alberta perspective for the week, in addition to the companies in the Canadian Pavilion, Calgary’s Multiplied Media (with their AWESOME Poynt application for the Blackberry) was sharing space at the RIM booth. Cochrane’s ANT+ (division of Dynastream Innovations Inc.) had their own booth in building 8. And, rounding out the full roster of 6 Alberta companies at MWC is Calgary’s Wireless Dynamics Inc. FULL kudos to everyone involved with the Canadian Pavilion … they were confronted with MANY logistical, last minute challenges to make the week a good one for those of us involved (the move of the booth from 2.1 to 2, not having listings correct in show guides, missing out being included in the mobile app with the MWC map, ongoing and maddening internet connection problems, etc…). It all came together in the end … from our perspective, Mob4Hire did great business and we completely appreciate their efforts above and beyond.

Duran Duran played the main event, the Queen of Jordan joined us to talk about her passion for world education for children, and on the brief sunny break on Thursday morning I closed my eyes and quietly sipped a cafe con leche on Avenida Mistral. It proves once again, that MWC Barcelona is THE major global event in wireless. A year makes a big difference in this industry hurtling forward … can’t wait to see what MWC 2011 holds in store!