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SUMMARY: The 2006 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 19.02.06 - 17:09:25 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 13940x
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So the '06 3GSM Congress is already history but I don't want to leave it without having a short summary of what I've seen in Barcelona. First of all, Barcelona was a great host and the change from Cannes to Barcelona was worth. During the past 10+ years, Cannes was the right place for the 3GSM Congress but over the time, the focus changed from a pure congress to an exhibition and while - in the past - I've joined several congress sessions, this year I haven't joined a single session at all but was running around through the exhibition all the time. Also, this year's 3GSM had as much participants as never before in terms of exhibitors, visitors and press members and it seriously established itself as the most important wireless exhibition in the world; even if it got too much show (sometimes it felt too much like CES or CeBIT with all the attractions) around the stands. I still prefer the more silent but focused way, as it was before in Cannes but well - time is changing and therefore such a focus. However, since the 3GSM isn't a public exhibition at all, neither for consumers, nor for retailers but a pure B2B, it's not necessary at all to attract visitors with such shows. But ok, that's my very own humble opinion here.

Talking about services and announcements. When you walked through this years exhibition you mainly saw two buzzwords: HSDPA (also known as 3.5G which will provide - in phase one - download speed up to 1.8 Mbit/s) and mobile TV (aka DMB and DVB-H). While personally I will appreciate and use both trends, both were the typical GSM industry buzz's. Neither UMTS nor it's forerunner GPRS are widely established in the consumer world today (ask a non-geek if he knows or is using GPRS or UMTS), the industry is already talking about the next wave instead of establishing today's technologies in the market first.
Same for mobile TV. Surveys are talking about a big mobile TV business in 2010 but is mobile TV something the consumer really wants? Sure, if you just ask the single question "would you use mobile TV on your mobile phone" most will say "sure, why not". But between "sure, why not" and "sure, I do" is a gap and I wonder if mobile TV will comes close to SMS which is the only real non-voice service, in terms of revenues.
All together I was a kind of bored to see HSDPA and mobile TV on every stand where the crew members tried to fish hard to get attention. First we need the network upgrades, then we need tariffs which makes the use of both payable and then we need the devices. Not the service announcement first, then the devices, then the network upgrades and we forget to provide payable tariffs (a typical GSM industry fault since the introduction of WAP back in 1999).

But now to the good news: Windows Mobile. Was it hard to cover Windows Mobile during the past 3GSM Congresses because there were simply not enough news to talk about, I was happy about every single service announcement which also covered Windows Mobile in the one or the other way, this year's 3GSM was "Windows Mobile heaven". We have never seen so many Windows Mobile announcements within three days only as we have seen in Barcelona. From the Samsung SGH-i320 to the HTC Trilogy/Virgin Mobile TV announcement to the HTC Star Trek and many more impressive announcements. So personally I was more than satisfied with the 3GSM Congress and it was worth every single Euro I spent for the flight and hotel.

Next to come is the CeBIT next month, where I hope to follow-up with some of the early announcements we heard about in Barcelona. I mean announcing/revealing a device is one thing, but then I want to see it coming to the market and this 3GSM/CeBIT combination is the right one to expect it: announcing the product at 3GSM followed by the commercial announcement at CeBIT.

Cheers ~ Arne


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