Things I didn't see at 3GSM


There's been tons of reports of all the new gadgets and announcements at the 3GSM conference, I figured I'd make a quick list of the things I didn't see. :-)

Women: Wow, there was nothing but a sea of dark-suited grey-haired guys - we're talking 95% men. There weren't even really booth babes present. It was just testosterone city. I wonder if these mobile companies get the idea that 51% of their market is of the opposite sex?

Treos or Blackberries: Nokia 9300 Communicators were everywhere, and though I'd see the odd American with those silly belt-hooks for their Palms and Blackberry phones, they were pretty much non-existant.

Mobile Video: Outside the booths demoning DMB or DVB-H and other new mobile video tech, you'd expect at least a person or two to be using their phones to watch video, no? While eating or relaxing or something... nope. Nothing. No video calls either - despite the fact that Nokia 6630s, 6680s and N70s with multiple cameras were everywhere and Spain has UMTS in full effect. You have to wonder about that... You have to eat your own dog-food and I didn't see anyone with any Purina.

Mobile Business Cards: This may be sort of a practical thing - as browsing for Bluetooth devices in a conference of mobile heads is an effort in futility, and most phones don't really do a good job of separating personal from business contacts in the address book. However, you'd think that passing around cardboard business cards would be a thing of the past by now, no? It's not like a single person at the conference had a non-Bluetooth enabled phone. There's a business idea for someone like Plaxo - make a java client and get people to start passing Plaxo IDs or something instead of the damn business cards (I've got a pocket full of them myself and it's silly).

Elmos: There was ONE booth I saw with cameras on live mobile screens - that was Movistar from Spain. Every other mobile demo was slideware or maybe emulators on an LCD Monitor. Because Y! Go is a S60 app, we use Remote S60 which is like a VNC for your phone. But you know, people watching the demos didn't really believe they were seeing stuff on the real phone - the image that comes from the phone using that app is so clear, it's almost too nice. I think we need to invest in some smaller Elmo cams in the future for demos so it's OBVIOUS that what's being demoed is on the phone.

Sessions: I spent all my time on the floor! I'm not even sure if my badge would've let me into any of the keynotes or sessions anyways, but that's okay, I can read the news highlights. Also, some of the keynotes are online as well like Nokia's.

AOL: Did they have a booth or a stand? I didn't see it... Don't they own T9 with a new version and all that? I didn't see a Tegic booth either. Looking up in the directory I don't see Time/Warner either, you'd figure they'd want to sell Bugs Bunny wallpaper everywhere, no? I wonder what the deal is. Well, I guess Microsoft had a booth, but MSN didn't, right? So It kinda makes sense. But it seems odd to me. Like Google they may have had just a hospitality suite and nothing else, but a quick scan of all the exhibitors doesn't show anything.

Mobile Flash: There was a nice Adobe stand with some neat demos and announcements that another couple manufacturers are signed up to support it, but other than that? Nothing. I didn't see any demos where I thought, "wow, how did you do that?" and the answer came back, "oh, this is written in Flash." It's like this myth floating out there... Some day there'll be Flash. It's coming. Really, promise. No kidding. It's big in Japan. No seriously, it is.

Mentions of the term "Web 2.0": Thank fucking god. It's so nice to get out of the Valley for a bit. No "Mobile 2.0" either - what an abomination that term is.

American Carriers: I guess they do their thing at CTIA? Because there was no Cingular, Verizon, etc. I had this thought there'd be like "carrier row" or something where you'd see reps from around the world. But except for the biggies like Voda, Orange, T-Mo, DoCoMo, etc. there was an obvious lack of operator presence. (Did you know that only us Americans call them "carriers"? I didn't know that until just this week. Huh. I 'll have to start using the word "operators" more.) Anyways, considering that just about everyone at the conference is in one way or another trying to sell to the carriers, work with them or around them, to me their absense in a formal way (I'm sure there were attendees there from lots of places) was quite odd.

Surprises: Yep, this year seemed to be devoid of anything that I just lost my mind about. Well, maybe Nokia's 6136 UMA handset was pretty cool, but I knew they were doing more stuff like that, so not a big surprise (when I can actually buy it, THAT will be a surprise). There were some nice handsets, some interesting announcements, but nothing that really made the whole industry re-evaluate what they were doing. Most of the booths dedicated to mobile video weren't really that exciting either - honestly, if you've seen a new iPod playing an episode of Lost, you've seen what Mobile Video looks like, only it'll be live and streaming over the air - which is neat, but not demonstrably so. You know what I mean? I've been playing video on my phone since I got my first 7650 back in 2003, so really, the video stuff was not particularly compelling.

I think the conference itself is an odd mix. You've got server vendors next to chip makers next to handset makers next to operating system vendors next to operators next to content providers next to platform plays. Only 1/8th of that was particularly interesting to me specifically in my role in mobile data products. Yeah, the Biz Dev team was running around like crazy talking to lots of companies, but even then those guys could care less about the new chipset guys or what not. It's almost as if there's too much combined under one roof - the Venn diagram of businesses doesn't overlap enough.

What I DID see: There is SO much in the pipeline it's amazing. The handsets from the Asian companies were astounding in particular, bigger screens and better UIs all around and more powerful, faster, thinner handsets are going to continue to drive adoption of mobile phones for the next few years. So many cool new services are coming - it's mind blowing. So much opportunity is out there. Going to a conference like this gives you a glimpse of the next year or so in the industry, which is really energizing, I'll tell you. It's going to be an exciting next few years.


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