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Thoughts from MWC 2013

Posted by Darren Willsher on 1st March 2013

So that’s MWC done for another year – though, to be fair, at least I was home today while there are still plenty of people probably there until the weekend.

Overall the GSMA seemed pretty pleased and, with visitor numbers up (along with the cost of stands), it’s no wonder.

The show was still big, mad and the centre of the tech world’s attention, so some things never change.

But this year there was a surprising lack of an overriding theme or two. All the media I spoke to seemed to agree that there wasn’t one or two key things you could easily drop into a ‘top themes from Barcelona’ piece.

Undoubtedly NFC had a big role to play, in part thanks to the new NFC badges and the other GSMA-based activity (however, as I was with Samsung’s NFC folks all week, I’m so slightly biased) but that was it – no small cell revolution, no dramatic new device or other emerging trends that seemed to be obvious last year.

The new venue, Fira Gran Via, was ok. Practically it was a lot better but, for me, it just didn’t have the charm of the old place. Plus I missed being able to walk back to the apartment after the show. The packed trains weren’t as bad as London at rush hour but still not a whole lot of fun. There were at least more places for lunch and spots to sit down (outside anyway).

One of the biggest challenges in the old place was getting around. If you knew your way it wasn’t so bad, but it could still take a while, and even at the end of my second year there I was still finding bits of Hall 2 I never knew about before. However the advantage of this was that the crowds *had* to wander the show floor and, as a result, many ‘smaller’ companies got traffic onto their stands.

This year the raised walkway made it easier to get between halls, but it also meant that the show floor felt quieter, and there were a lot of stands tucked out of the way not seeing too much traffic. While those with a stand big enough for a small village were ok, I’m sure there will be lots of interesting ROI discussions in the coming weeks for those elsewhere.

So will it be just as packed next year? Almost certainly, but the challenge for anyone spending less than the GDP of a small country on the stand seems to be getting the attention – stands are getting more expensive and there are fewer spots where you get a lot of footfall – even China Mobile‘s stand was a bit out of the way this year. So do you spend your entire year’s budget on the show and hope it pays off? Or scale right back and focus elsewhere?

Photo courtesy of Mozillaeu.

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.