And now, for your pleasure, random bonus scenes from last week’s Mobile World Congress.
Robots at rock concerts
Part of Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s future vision – the one where the world evolves from a divide of haves and have-nots to a connected hierarchy of ultra-connected, connected contributors and the aspiring majority – includes robot avatars.
“One day you’ll use a robot to attend separate events simultaneously,” he said. “You could be here in Barcelona while your robot attends a rock concert.”
That’s if you’re part of the ultra-connected, of course. If you’re part of the connected contributors, you’ll only be using holopresence to attend concerts. Or to “stand in the Congo during a lunar eclipse”.
Cars on the cloud
Ford Motor Co made its first appearance at MWC this year – ostensibly to launch a new car (the B-Max) and its Sync service for the European market. But it also showcased its Ford Evos concept car, first introduced last year, which among other things serves to illustrate the possibilities of applying cloud apps to the cloud.
“For example, when you leave home, the Evos will shut off the power in your home,, close the garage door, know the road conditions, and find a parking space with a charging unit,” said Ford CTO Paul Mascarenas. “If you’re suck in traffic, it can take over the stop-and-go driving for you.”
Bruce Lee: kung fu legend, convergence poster child
Martial arts legend Bruce Lee made two separate appearances during the Day 4 morning keynotes, courtesy of two speakers who coincidentally managed to name-drop him.
Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, quoted Lee in his keynote, saying that “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”
Later in the same session, Shi Lirong, president and CEO of ZTE, went one better with a slide featuring pictures of Lee and these closing remarks: “There are different forms of kung fu … Bruce Lee was able to converge several different forms into his own style, and today he gets respect. In mobile, who manages multiple technology convergence will be the master of kung fu in telecom.”
Nokia’s launch of the 808 PureView handset – the one with the 41MP camera sensor – caused a stir at MWC. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took advantage of the buzz during his keynote speech on Day 3, sharing an anecdote of January’s CES event, at which he showed off the Lumia 900 and talked up its 8MP camera – after which HTC chief Peter Chou took the stage and unveiled the HTC Titan II LTE handset with a 16MP camera.
“I said to Peter afterwards that said that it’s not about megapixels, it's about the algorithms behind it and so on,” Elop said. “Then I went back to the office and said, ‘We need to release the 41MP camera’.”
Peter Chou – whose keynote was right before Elop’s – took the stage afterwards to offer his version of the story:
“I was watching Steve talk about his cameraphone in Las Vegas and said to myself, ‘Steve I’m going to cause you so much trouble’,” he told the audience. “After I announced the 16MP camera for the Titan II, I came up to him and said, ‘What do you think?’ He didn’t say anything to me, he just shook his head. And I thought: ‘I know he will come back after me with something else’.”
The dreaded transport strike
Never happened, although delegates were directed out the back way at the end of business on Day 3 due to a student demonstration outside the Fira Barcelona protesting education spending cuts. Elsewhere in the city, the protests got considerably uglier.
Nice show, shame about the badges
Finally, a recurring theme throughout the show: badge failure.
For those who haven't attended MWC before, the name badges are essentially smart cards to track traffic at the gates and to ensure that only delegates with authorized access can attend the conference sessions. On Day 1, many badges failed at the front gate – including mine.
On the bright side, staff were on hand to print out new badges and at least kept the line moving. Also on the bright side, conference staff scanning badges at the keynotes ultimately opted for common sense over technology in allowing people with valid but faulty badges inside.
On the downside, I went through about five badges before the overall problem was eventually fixed. Which meant five trips to the registration counter that took at least a half hour out of an already busy schedule.
Still, considering what went on outside the venue on Day 3 (see above), I probably shouldn't complain.