Mobile World Congress 2011 Report

Last week I attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It was the first time, but even without anything similar to compare to, I can say that this is the world’s largest mobile technology event. The event span across 4 days (15-17.02.2011) near 1400 exhibitors, almost 60,000 visitors this year and included a leadership conference, an exhibition, an App Planet and an awards programme.

As an Exhibition Visitor Pass holder I only had access to The GSMA Seminars, the exhibitions and the AppPlanet. As a developer the main attraction point is obviously the AppPlanet – a program who aims to foster direct communication between developers and platform owners. Unfortunately, I only managed to secure seats for the Blackberry Developer Day on Tuesday (15th) and the WIPJam on Thursday (17th). This meant that I had the other two other days for visiting exhibitions.

Day 1 – 14.02.20011 – Highlights

Samsung presented the Galaxy S II phone, the Galaxy 10.1 tab and 4 more android devices: Samsung Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Gio, Galaxy Fit and Galaxy mini. Telecom Italia showed Cubevision, an advanced new broadband service that simply combines broadcast and broadband to deliver interactive TV. Basically, it is a product built on an Intel Atom CE4100 processor and delivers WebTV and other Internet content to TVs.  As an operating system it uses the Intel MeeGo Operating System. They also showcased a streaming application for the Samsung Galaxy tablet. Intel was focusing on their Intel Identity Protection Technologies (IPT) , while  Wind River on the Wind River Platform for Android and Wind River Framework for Automated Software Testing (FAST).

The LG stand was always crowded, so I never got the chance to talk to people that much. SK Telecom showcased a full HD 3D image streaming service and real time high definition (SD) video clip transmit service. Basing on these services, they will present this year various possibilities of IPE-based network services in traffic, medical treatment, and advertisement. These services are based on high speed data provided by next generation (4G) network. On the Android side they had an peer to peer live video streaming – turn on camera on one phone broadcast to several phones in the proximity.

Day 2 – 15.02.2011 – Blackberry Developer Day

There were 3 sessions all of them being repeated at least once so that everybody could attend them. BlackBerry PlayBookTM Tablet Bootcamp: BlackBerry WebWorks (Room 1) – started with an overview of the platform and then a simple “Hello World” Application. The WebWorks platform allows developers to write web applications (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and deploy them as native applications on the Blackberry phone or the Playbook. As a side note writing the app is the simple enough part the real hustle is installing/configuring the tools: VMWare, BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK and the Simulator. The second part of the session was focusing on more advanced topics related to WebWorks, however I moved to Room 2 for BlackBerry PlayBookTM Tablet Bootcamp: Adobe AIR. This second session was addressing the same matters translated to the Adobe Air Platform. It also started a general overview of the platform and installing the tools (same as above + FlashBuilder) and then Renaun Erikson showed a more advanced application built especially for the Playbook using the QNX components.

For the second part of the day I moved to the Main Room for BlackBerry Development Platform Roadmap and BlackBerry Messenger Social Platform Integration and App Monetization on BlackBerry. These were general sessions on the BlackBerry development platform with special focus on how to best monetize your apps on BlackBerry App World™ and integrate with the BBM Social Platform.

Day 3 – (16.02.2011) – Highlights

Spent most of the day at the Android market playing with things like the Sonos Controller for Android, Google Shopper for Android, Youtube application for Motorola Xoom tablet, Goggle Googles for Android, WorkSmart Lab’s CardioTrainer, LG Optimus 3d Phone, Sony Eriksson PlayStation Smartphone, etc… Towards the end of the day I did visit the Adobe booth, however they were only showing a couple of droid devices so I did not to stick around that much. I closed the day at the BlackBerry stand messing with the Playbook…

Day 4 – (16.02.2011) – WipJam

To paraphrase, Wireless Industry Partnership Connector Inc (WIP) is an international company building mobile developer communities. The WipJam is a day of networking, storytelling, pitches, discussion groups and interactive demos.

For the first part of the day, there were 4 true dev stories. Each story will talk about different aspects of the developer industry, whether it is panhandling for financing or a horror story of porting. Then in interactive, the audience has a chance to ask questions and learn how to achieve the same goals and avoid the same mistakes. And the official stories were:

#1: The Guardian Anywhere: How a small seaside software company’s skunk-works project took an international newspaper brand onto Android, and shifted a million copies in the process

The Story:
Future Platforms, a small mobile software company in Brighton, England, created an Android app called The Guardian Anywhere as a side project, utilizing the public APIs and RSS feeds from the newspaper of the same name. The app has been a huge success and delivered more than a million copies of the paper to users, and turned into a product for other publishers in its own right. Learn about how Future Platforms conceived and built the project and their experience with the Guardian’s API and feeds — and how they managed the relationship with the paper as their app grew in popularity. And, like all good stories, it might have a happy ending, too…

The Storyteller: Tom Hume, Managing Director, Future Platforms
Facilitators: Carlo Longino, WIP; John Wernecke, NAVTEQ

#2: The Secret Society of Pre-beta programs: How a small development company navigated the maze of pre-beta programs and felt like a guinea pig in the process

The Story:
theChanner created a social TV platform allowing users to enjoy and participate watching Internet television on a mobile phone, but it wasn’t an easy process to develop and launch this app.  As Apps have become THE story of mobile computing over the last few years, the competition has intensified amongst the app stores to showcase the most and best apps.  Many of the large companies are offering bounties for apps, in the forms of competitions and pre-beta programs.  theChanner has tried them all.  This story will give you the inside scoop on how the big companies scramble to launch their platforms and devices with developers along for the wild and crazy ride. Hang on!

The Storyteller: Nacho Sánchez, CTO, theChanner.com
The Facilitator: Caroline Lewko, WIP; James Pearce, Sencha

#3 From Cocoa to Mocha: The journey of cloud computing geeks to overcome the challenges of platform and technology choices

The Story:
There are many approaches to building your app.  Onavo, embarked on a journey to explore how the cloud and HTML5 web technologies compare to native application development. Onavo is now ready to launch a new application that although a web app, look, feels and behaves just like a native app.  Join us to hear the travelogue of this journey, what they achieved and what was learned in the process.

The Storyteller: Guy Rosen, CEO, Onavo
The Facilitator: Thibaut Rouffineau, WIP; Andreas Jakl, Nokia

#4. When Giving Up Easy Money Is The Hard Choice — Short-Term Sacrifices For Long-Term Gains

Startups are often forced to make choices between long-term goals and short-term gains. For Sweden’s ExpertMaker, large companies with deep pockets have always been interested in its artificial-intelligence search technology and wanted to engage it for custom projects. While taking on this work would have made money, it would have required ExpertMaker to shift its entire core team away from working on its long-term goal of providing AI search tools for developers and made it totally dependent on consulting revenues. The company chose to stick with its long-term plan of building tools — and it nearly killed the business in the process. But ExpertMaker is emerging from the startup revenue desert with its vision intact and the potential for greater long-term success on the horizon.

The Storyteller: Lars Hård, CEO and founder of ExpertMaker
The Facilitator: Caroline Lewko, WIP

During lunch there was a Guinness World Record attempt! The Blinkendroid crew from Germany were trying to break the record they set for “Largest animated mobile phone mosaic” at the Google Developer Day in Munich in November. The aim was 100 devices, the former record 73, and the number of gathered devices was only around 60. Not too bad but not enough though.

Second part of the day consisted of Discussion Groups. There are some topics this year like porting to tablets, making web apps more compatible and more ways to market an app.  Format: The room is divided into circlesof chairs. A discussion topic takes place in each circle, led by 2 discussion leaders. When time is up, attendees move to a new circle and topic of choice for a maximum of 2 sessions to attend. The topics: HTML 5, Cross Platforms, Marketing your app, Polishing your Android app, Making Money from Appstores, Integrating Data from API’s and Social Media. I attended the HTML5 and Integrating Data from API’s and Social Media.

The day ended with interactive demos and pitches where one could cram as much as he/she could in three minutes. The speakers alternated between organizers/sponsors and people who signed up from the audience.

Instead of  conclusion I would like to thank Enrique Duvos and Adobe for making this possible by putting out the invitations for grabs.

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