MWC From Afar

It was more than a little odd to not be at MWC this year. The event and its predecessors had been a regular stop for me for several years running, and I missed the chance to connect with friends, readers and contacts. In any case, I did have a few thoughts on things I saw come out of MWC this year, albeit at a distance. Please chime in with your comments, either from your experience in Barcelona, or if they’re like mine, and through a computer screen.

– New devices and such: My general reaction: “eh.” Not sure if I just don’t care about the latest and greatest handsets as much as I used to, or if the crop of announcements at MWC simply wasn’t that exciting. I’m hard pressed to really remember any real standout handsets, but you can look over Phone Scoop’s thorough coverage to check out all the new devices.

– Social Network Integration: This is a trend that’s been gathering steam for a while, and it’s good to see it continue with things like the integration of Skype into Nokia’s N-Series devices, and the recognition of INQ’s first device as Best Mobile Handset at the show. But while this trend is rising, it seems like some people are still misunderstanding mobile social networks. For instance, the CEO of MySpace talked up its mobile strategy at the show, but it seems much more focused on revenue generation than providing user benefits. And as Helen is always keen to remind us, better targeted ads aren’t a user benefit.

– LTE was surprisingly loud: There seemed to be a lot of talk about LTE, including Verizon’s pronouncement that it would have an LTE network up and running in 2011. Given the current economic climate, the high cost of and difficulty in accessing capital, I was a little surprised to hear so much talk about LTE. Perhaps for operators like Verizon making technology switches, they’ll want to press ahead, but it’s much more likely that we’ll see continued upgrades to HSPA continue from incumbent UMTS operators.

– App Stores!!!!!!!!!!!!! Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and more. Great to see the mobile development community get a boost, if only from publicity, but this movement has got the feel that it’s the latest strategy-via-lemmings in the mobile industry. Again, simply having an app store won’t see all these different players emulate the success Apple’s had. Apple’s App Store wasn’t a new idea, but it put all the pieces together in the right way for users.

– Pickpockets: I wonder if attendees’ safety in Barcelona will become a bigger issue. Last year, one friend had his hotel room ransacked and his laptop stolen, while another was the target of muggers on consecutive days. Thieves and pickpockets appear to have caught on to the fact that all these people in town for the show are carrying around lots of phones, cameras and laptops — like the Telstra exec, who had a device with a prototype build of Windows Mobile stolen from him.

– Ups and downs: NFC and mobile TV, the “next big things” of previous years, were conspicuous in their absence, while there was a lot of talk about the mobile money and banking space heating up.

Some other people who were in Barcelona and have some good rundowns of their experiences are Ian Wood, Telecoms.com, Dean Bubley and Martin Sauter.

What are your thoughts? Leave ’em in the comments.

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