At last: When mobile giants pull out of the Mobile World Congress

Back in the late 1990s, the Mobile World Congress was called 3GSM and was held in the lovely Cannes, South of France. Some ten thousand, then fifteen thousand mobile pioneers attended, not the fifty-five thousand mobile warlords that clog Barcelona each February. In the early days of it all, the organisers were happy to put on the stage a mixture of big industry kahunas, CEOs of mobile carriers, and young CEOs of cool mobile startups like mine. At the 2000 3GSM I was even chairman of the Mobile Personalisation sessions, which took a whole afternoon and offered the audience great panels of experts on the early data services. Me, a young thing from London who just had closed funding for her mobile startup in the middle of a bomb. A girl in a world of mobile dudes. But, it was all right, Ma, everybody was just loving being part of the most innovative technology in the world. The vibe was incredible. Then the move to Barcelona and the supersize-me turn of the congress, which became a massive monstruosity where the old camaraderie and the bumping into each other with ease at La Croisette got killed by the size of it all.

You can tell me that it got bigger because the whole mobile industry exploded, because it became the big business. Yes, you are probably right. It’s not you, it’s me. I am an old skool gal: I like to get into things when they are grassroots. I like to go to gigs where semi-known bands play in small venues. I like to be able to approach a big mover and shaker and give him my colourful startup business card. I like that he would chat to me sharing that brief moment in time when the big people in suits that work in my industry and the young zero-budgets for nothing entrepreneurs kick it off enjoying their mutual love for the same thing: cool mobile stuff. THAT is magical. The late Mobile World Congress was not the bearer of the same feeling. It was the typical huge tech conference in a place as huge as it could possibly be to host it. Probably Las Vegas. Probably a gi-normous American congress.

The industry got bigger. The U.S. mobile industry mobilised. The big bucks began to rule.

Yes. That’s why I didn’t like it. I loved it when it was a European/Asian story. It was my little sweet revenge against the chip on the shoulder we all got here in the Old World when the US startups began to go IPO like there is no tomorrow and we Europeans felt like the web was out of our creative reach.

Today NOKIA – yes, the might blue Queen of the North, the beacon of mobile world domination, pulled out of throwing the big money into the big G8 hangar of the Mobile World Congress.

[gobsmacked, eyes wide open]

Yup, and it’s not just them. Apple never bothered with it and neither did Google in the past. They both preferred to host their own events wherever and whenever they pleased.

My prayers have been heard – thank-you-Lord. Let the mobile industry go back to its true people. Let the smaller events carry the know-how. Let the big names do their own shows. Take this whole thing to a new level where new emerging stuff finds its place into what mobile is becoming today: content, applications, platforms, a medium, not a hardware trade show.

See you at Mobilize in San Francisco next week, everybody. I look forward to it.

One Response to “At last: When mobile giants pull out of the Mobile World Congress”
  1. David Levine says:

    Ah yes. Them were the days. Journeys of over an hour from your hotel to the conference (if you were lucky). And Inma with short hair 😉

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