It's over, and with the benefit of a good nights sleep I can look back over this years Mobile World Congress, and try to draw some conclusions.
- Android was the big operating system story, despite announcements from Intel, Nokia and Microsoft. Many new handsets coming out in the next year and lots of developer interest being stoked by handset vendors. Whilst Android owners seem to have behaviour around apps which broadly matches that of iPhone owners (good news), the Android Marketplace is having problems converting traffic into sales. If this can be fixed, then interest in the platform currently bottlenecked around developers could filter out to content providers and bring budgets. This would be a good thing for everyone.
- Blackberry is going to interesting places - their new consumer focus was clear, as they continued to concentrate on their enterprise customers. I heard anecdotal evidence from parents about children using them too.
- Apps were a very hot area, as you might expect in the year a pavilion is set aside from them. Last time I came to MWC apps (and mobile content in general) was tucked away upstairs behind the porn. This time there was the Apps Planet hall, plus prominence in stands elsewhere.
- Social is huge. To be fair, it's always been huge in mobile - what's a phone if not a social tool? - but I was surprised by how much interest in social software services even device manufacturers showed. Motorola and Samsung stood out here, with both emphasising the social software in recent and upcoming handset launches.
- Apple were conspicuous by their absence. A shame; as one chap I spoke to put it, their products are wonderful but their institutional arrogance is off-putting. A world where they dominate the ecosystem wouldn't be a particularly pleasant one for those of us providing apps and services (nor, to be fair, do I think it's likely).
- The Google stand was, for me, a personal high point. It felt stripped back in classic minimalist Google style - the sheer confidence of their brand letting them eschew even a logo. Obviously staffed by the best people Google could find that day, the new transparency displayed there was a clear response to the privacy issues raised by the Buzz launch, and I applaud Google for reacting so quickly, and in such a characteristically open fashion: the stand was absolutely nothing *except* open.
A good year, very upbeat - for our little corner of the telecomms industry. Particularly compared to my last visit 4 years ago, I found the conference exceptionally useful - and I'm looking forward to following up some of the conversations started here.
In constrast, perhaps some of the conversations started at the ever-excellent Swedish Beers, should be left there...
I've put my photos and pithy commentary online here.