Mobile World Congress

Fjord Family

It was energising & exhausting at the same time. It was the biggest event in MWC history (more than 60,000 people attending), and Fjord had a very prominent booth in a main intersection of the 2 main ‘streets’ in Hall 1, which is a main hall of the congress. We served our differentiating desserts, we had meetings, we networked, we presented and we hosted one cocktail party at the stand for media and start-ups.

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With regards to the trends at MWC, here are some brief reflections…

  1. Much sameness – Many telecom companies move as one flock. So there was a very wide range of undifferentiated products and experiences; the ubiquitous Android-based touch Smartphone, the broad range of tablets, the icon grids, etc. So while some things stood out, most things didn’t, and many companies compete with quite unimaginative offerings.
  2. 3D – There had been rumours that LG and HTC would launch devices that used stereoscopic 3D technology (the kind that doesn’t require glasses). LG did. Their 3D device was easily the most talked about at the show. The device has 3D games and features 3D movies. We also saw a 3D UI demo on it at the Texas Instruments booth. The LG device has 2 cameras on the back, allowing users to shoot in 3D and upload to a dedicated YouTube channel. It created a lot of buzz, but the point of it (or utility) was lacking. It will be interesting to see what innovations clever designers come up with – from mobile 3D shopping solutions to remote mobile diagnostics perhaps? Either way, 3D is a growing trend in mobile, which we pointed out in our 2011 trends.
  3. Gestures & Kinect – There is a lot of buzz about the Microsoft Kinect technology in general, and at MWC I saw some promising startup companies that showed gesture-based interfaces using 2D cameras. Since the hardware is cheap, this is a promising direction, and might well help companies think beyond the current graphical touch UI paradigm. I also know that several universities are starting courses dedicated to gesture solutions. For reference, check out Kinecthacks website
  4. Android – Androids are literally taking over the world! The number of devices on the floor was staggering! At MWC there was a large Android area where a lot of small and big companies showed off their Android solutions. Given that Google has not had a physical presence at MWC in the past, this was a very impressive stunt!
  5. Motorola Atrix – An interesting concept where the smartphone is the ‘connected brain’ that is docked into various docking stations – car, netbook, TV, desktop PC – to bring those touchpoints to life. Without the smartphone the touchpoints are dead, since the phone supplies the brainpower and the connectivity, and the UI and service offerings morph to fit the context.

Until next year!
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