MWC 2011 and I just figured out yesterday that it's indeed my 10th anniversary at the show. 2002 was the year I first attended when it was freshly and cleverly renamed from GSM World Congress to 3GSM World Congress to include UMTS as a technology as well. Today, it's the Mobile World Congress and it's not only the name that has changed over the years. I still remember quite well that in those earlier years when the fair was still in Cannes the main theme were advances in networks, network equipment and very much voice call centered. Yes, new phones were presented as well but it was not the main thing.
Today, the show has gone with the times, it has gone to Barcelona and the networking guys have moved from the main hall 8 at the beginning up the Fira hill so you have to make a physical effort now to go and see them. What used to be 'mega booths' in hall 8 are now 'mega mega booths' that take up complete exhibition halls. And on the left side in a couple of big halls are those smaller companies that sell everything from embedded processors, to network testers, to specialized software to running networks to antenna casings. That has remained fairly constant over the years in Barcelona.
Hall 8 seems to me like it says it all. While in the past the hall was packed with booths of network vendors and then later with booths of mobile device vendors it now contains a bit of everything. Samsung and LG show their latest Android phones in a big way, Motorola is a bit away and seems to simulate a dark counter spot to the bright Asian stands. And in between you can find a myriad of different companies from SIM card vendors, flash memory companies, Cisco has a wall booth near the entrance, ZTE hasn't yet gone with the times and moved up the hill just like NSN who are tucked away in a far away corner of the booth.
The show is changing and so do I. After 10 years the meeting slots are no longer only 30 minutes, the list of must-do's is notably shorter than in previous years, less is sometimes more and talking to friends working for the different companies exhibiting there is worth more than 10 superficial tech talks. And with that I leave you with the pictures on the left from 2002 and I'm looking forward to the next 10 years in mobile.