Attending my first Mobile World Congress, I put aside the warnings, the advice and the PR pap as I attempted to absorb all the latest mobile technology in the spectacular setting of the Fira Barcelona.
It was a head-spinning mix of quad-core smartphones and mind-blowing wireless technology amid broader themes of connectivity and convergence. This was supplemented by a myriad of trade stalls offering weird and wonderful services linked to the telecommunications industry. If I hadn’t been racing from one interview to another, which kept me anchored to reality, I would no doubt have been lost in this awe-inspiring tech universe.
Battling my way through the record-breaking crowds in a bid to assess which new devices would make a mark and which would sink without a trace, I spoke to various MDs and CEOs, all of whom promoted their new products with gusto and a sincere belief that they had discovered a breakthrough formula.
However, I had a sneaking feeling that many of these products had very few distinguishing features, despite the protestations of their advocates. Super cameras, super sounds and super sensory effects were being trumpeted by just about every company. Good luck to all of them, but at some point there has to be a reality check in a crowded marketplace. Everyone was talking about ‘innovation’, but there was a real danger of this word becoming a cliché.
What was interesting was the discussion on how mobile devices will change our lifestyles in the future, with some pundits predicting that the next three years will see more change than we have witnessed in the last 25 years.
Visiting the ‘Connected House’, the wider connectivity and convergence debate was in full flow. Being able to control just about everything in your home and having even greater access to stored information dominated the agenda. How operators will adapt to the changing demands of their customers was also a prevailing theme, as was the simplifying of software and data usage so consumers are not left baffled and can make more effective use of their devices.
So, MWC 2012 gave us an insight into how radically our lives are about to change. We’ll see.