Friday, 28 February 2014

Mobile World Congress – Two Good, Two Bad

I’m still trying to sort my thoughts about the Mobile World Congress. To start with, here’s my Match of the Day style summary of the two best things I saw at MWC and the two worst things I saw at MWC…

I liked: Ubuntu Tablet

Ubuntu is best known as a server O/S, but they also offer a smartphone and now a tablet version of the open source O/S. The tablet version is extremely slick and easy to navigate: apparently they have some partners ready to launch hardware for it this year (although it installs seamlessly on a Google Nexus tablet). I know it won’t catch on, but it was still really nice to see some innovation in interface design.

I didn’t like: the way the industry is missing the point

Mobile is the hot topic in many industries, particularly when it comes to providing very localized sales, marketing and other services. The cellular industry is in a prime place to enable this sort of new commerce market. So why was it nowhere to be seen at MWC? Because it seems that the success of pure web businesses as brokers and market places has got the mobile carriers thinking the same way.

So this year it was all connected cars and healthcare. Interesting, but way on the horizon for the mass market. Local commerce is now. I was expecting more. Now I’ll have to make it up for myself. Annoying.

I liked: the $50 smart phone

A lot was made of the Mozilla smartphone at $25, but I thought it was a bit crap. At $50, Nokia’s new full screen Asha is an incredible device for the price and carries a brand that is well respected in the emerging markets where people are trading up to smart devices. I hope it sells well for them.

I didn’t like: Huawei’s ‘friendly image’

Huawei do seem to delight in behaving like the bad guys. Not content with acting as the signals intelligence department of the Chinese government (this is a joke, before y’all get started!), this MWC they went on a charm offensive, sponsoring the lanyards and taking over a quarter of Hall 2 with a massive corporate entertainment area… into which they only allowed important dignitaries and turned everyone else away with the largest, most aggressive bouncers I’ve ever seen. Excellent for the brand image.

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