I attended Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona. I was struck by the blending of old and new together.
Typically, when people ask me “What was <some exotic place> like?”, I have to answer that it looked like an airport, taxi ride, hotel room, and an exhibition center. This was my first trip to Barcelona, and my take was that the airport, taxi ride, and hotel room were all pretty much what you would expect. The exhibition center, on the other hand, was something really special.
While the picture here doesn’t do it justice, the Fira Barcelona is set up on top of a hill in the middle of a bunch of beautiful old buildings. This is the upper courtyard, which is a decent walk from the main exhibition halls. The mobile application hall was up here, as well as, hospitality suites and restaurants. The view looking back downhill was really nice, providing a view of the city as a backdrop.
Walking around this beautiful mixture of old and new must have focused my mind on the challenges of blending the old and new together. All too often, in the rush to make amazing new things, we abandon perfectly useful older things. So that was the mindset that I took into Mobile World Congress, and I saw that same dynamic being played out in many of the big announcements being made at the show.
Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7. It is a new redesign of their mobile platform, but they have done a pretty good job of making some tough choices about what is worth keeping and building on and what needs to be torn down. XBox and Zune connectivity is there, Windows Mobile 6.5 and other false starts didn’t make the cut. They may have finally gotten it right and realized that with mobile, less is more.
Much of the rest of the show seemed to center on finding the best ways to combine the old and new technologies. Everyone is trying to figure out the challenge of how to move from the safe and profitable wireless voice world into an exploding wireless data market where revenues are not going to come anywhere close to keeping pace with bandwidth requirements. Verizon and Skype announced a strategic partnership that combines the Verizon Wireless voice network with the Skype application.