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Another Mobile World Congress Wraps

Musings and mutterings from the just-completed Mobile World Congress 2012 . . .

  • Darned if this still isn’t the only place in the universe where there are waiting lines leading into the men’s rooms but not the ladies’ rooms . . . Obviously, the planners did not heed my carefully crafted suggestion for improvement made in the wake of the 2011 event.
  • Barcelona did get the weather right this year, though – Each day was darned sunny and fairly warm . . . a decided contrast to the last two Februarys.
  • The show was held two weeks later this year than in previous years, so no one had an excuse for being away on Valentine’s Day.  “Sorry, honey, but I ‘have’ to go to Barcelona this week . . .” didn’t work this time.
  • All that aside, MWC continues to enhance its position as the largest, most important service provider-focused show of the year. 
  • The projected attendance was 65,000, about 12% more than in 2011.  It will be a few days before the official figure is posted, but, judging from the traffic inside and outside the Fira de Barcelona all four days, the estimate seems reasonable.
  • The most prominent theme this year was SP Wi-Fi/small cells . . . which just happened to align perfectly with Cisco’s key messaging and announcement.  Not to mention numerous customer-focused mentions this week and last.   Cisco focused “not only on what we make, but what we make possible.”
  • Other consistent themes included monetization, optimization, reducing capex and opex, and cloud applications. 
  • ARPU continues to stagnate . . . a real problem for operators.
  • Another theme often heard is that service providers are more and more looking for advice from vendors.   There was a time when that was not true.  “They’re looking at the situation and saying, ‘We need some help figuring out what to do with all this stuff,” one analyst remarked.     Another added, “It’s VERY important for a vendor to be considered a trusted advisor.”  Hmmm – Does Cisco’s consulting arm – the Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) – ring a bell?
  • Mobile World Congress has evolved – as it must – in its approximately 15 years of existence.   Real old-timers remember when it was small and very clubby.    Particularly in the last few years, it has changed and broadened as the concept of mobility has become more ubiquitous.  “Three years ago, it was more of a pure infrastructure show with the Huaweis, Ericssons of the world holding forth,” said one.  “Last year, companies like Samsung and Google got much of the attention.  This year, it’s WiFi and small cells.”
  • “Four years ago here, a Hotspot was an oddity,” one analyst said.  “Now, it’s the norm.” 
  • In a Cisco analyst/media event about small cells, Telstra CTO Dr. Hugh Bradlaw said, “It’s the network, stupid.  That’s what makes the cloud possible.”
  • Machine-to-machine continues to grow in importance.   One analyst firm characterized it this way: “M2M = M3 . . . Make More Money”.
  • Overheard while standing in line at the men’s room: “Operators are chasing the consumer too much and not realizing that a lot of SMBs and mid-market companies are dying for solutions that are right in their [the operators’] sweet spot.”

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