The GSM Association defied all the odds by growing attendance at the Mobile World Congress by 2,000 delegates to 49,000 year-on-year.
The modest growth was achieved despite the fact big names like Nokia and Apple chose not to attend in an official capacity. It also put paid to theories that numbers would be down as budget decisions taken a year ago – when the global financial outlook was poorer - would see many firms skip this year’s show.
Although the figure is down from the 55,000 delegates at the 2008 event, there was a real sense of progress at the show. Rather than discussing what could be done, most talks were about what’s happening, as evidenced by the fact 20,000 people visited the GSMA’s App Planet section, which featured some 6,000 developers.
Adding to buzz was the fact firms including Google, Motorola, RIM, Sony Ericsson and Vodafone, each held developer events during the Congress, while Nokia Siemens Networks and Telefonica carried out live demonstrations of LTE.
Despite the progress, many journalists and analysts TE Daily spoke with questioned how sustainable the event is in the long run in its current format, with some suggesting that the services and applications side of things might eventually be separated from the networking and infrastructure element.
Post-show comments by GSMA CEO John Hoffman suggest no immediate changes in the next two years. “The GSMA is committed to holding the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona through 2012,” he said.