This year was my second year attending the MWC (formerly 3GSM) in Barcelona since I joined the telco industry and I had some sort of DjVu while walking the aisles of the congress. Why? Well, to start, most of the companies had the same booth and at the same location and there was nothing particularly new that they were launching that make you think that a year has passed by. Yes there was more LTE related products but this was already in 2007 (it seems that LTE is winning over WIMAX but this congress even though is global it has a bit of a European biased). Yes there were more femtocells but femtocells were already last year as well (btw, most femtocells vendors focused on improving indoor coverage but I did not see anything good in terms of new digital home services enabled by them). Yes there were more LG and Samsung phones with large, touch screens but some of those launched last year (like the LG Prada model). Yes Nokia had the N96 but the N95 was there last year and there is nothing exciting about the N96 that was not already in the N95 (and the crappy features like the user interface or lack of touch screen have not been improved at all). Many of the smaller companies in Hall 7 were also the same as last year offering more ring tones, downloads, mobile IM, etc. Again, nothing strikingly new. The Telefonica/O2 booth was similar to last year and the most remarkable thing for me was that many demos done by my team were there, the guys from El Pais highlighted our Second Life demos (check the link here since they have a cool video explaining the demo, we did some demos from the R&D center to a large group of foreign journalists and it was fun to see the other avatar being used in the MWC hanging at the island we have in Second Life) and apparently the minister of industry Clos tried himself our Shake and Throw demo using accelerometers.
And what about those Android prototypes? Well, unimpressive is the word. The hardware is not there and the user interface in the ones that I see is like a poor version of a Yahoo Go! or a iPhone so still way to go. They are not particularly slow as I read somewhere (my N95 feels slower in changing menus or starting the camera) but the user interface is also not particularly impressive. There are early prototypes so we will have to wait and see. I think that the most relevant around Android was the comment from Rich Miner about getting the price point of Android based terminals down to $100 in the next few years, that will really change the industry landscape. Another interesting comment I heard was from Arun Sharin, Vodafone CEO that in his keynote mentioned that one of the key issues to solve in the next few years is the fragmentation of mobile OS since that is stopping innovation. I could not agree more but the iPhone and Android for the time being are only adding fragmentation even though it could change in the future if we are left with four major mobile Internet enabled OS, iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile. Consolidation on mobile browsers could also help solve the issue and here WebKit is getting more and more traction as the leading browser. I also saw a demo of Ovi but I was not very impressed, just putting together some of their existing sites and recent acquisitions. The OVI multimedia share site was still pointing at Twango in their demos and some other sites did not have an OVI look and feel yet but the old one). The "new" upload client was just the old Nokia Web Upload with a Ovi link. I guess is also too early to see where they are heading.
And what about the parties? I did not attend many as some of my colleagues did since I was very tired from the weekend and the long days, I might be getting old (one of them, I will not mention his name to avoid public embarrassment, was twittering from two different parties on Wednesday night, then went sightseeing early Thursday morning in Barcelona and at 10am was looking very fresh in a meeting we had at the Telefonica stand). I attended the Open Handset Alliance party that Google did at the MACBA, pretty cool set up and location but close to non OHA members till 10:30pm and in spite of promises from Google that the party was going to get wild after 10:30pm when they open to all public, it did not at all and overall was very lame, just good to have a drink with some of Madrid colleagues, Kyte video below.