I didn’t get to post as much as I had hoped over the course of the week in Barcelona. It was busy, to say the least, and only today have I really caught up on the lost sleep. However, I learned a fair amount and saw some interesting developments.
This year the closest thing there was to a unifying theme for the event was the realities of delivering data services. One company told me that everywhere that operators had turned on High Speed Packet Access services — effectively mobile broadband or 3.5G — they had been left in shock at the amount of data consumed by users. There will be a frantic effort over the next couple of years to ensure the rest of the network can cope with these sexy new services.
The applications that will drive such data usage are just now beginning to appear. The iPhone is the one garnering all the headlines — and its impact is significant — but the reality of what is driving mobile data is a lot more mundane. Take the train in our out of London from any major UK city and you will see a mobile army of workers equipped with Blackberries, laptops, and 3G mobile data cards. I’m willing to bet these people consume vastly more data than the few hundred thousand iPhone owners.
Finally my own little hobby horse — the mobile interface — is widely accepted as being a problem to be addressed. Most of the journalists, analysts and industry players I spoke to concurred that it is a big issue and one that will take time to solve. I’m looking forward to seeing more innovations on this front. I don’t think the trend for context-sensitive mini touch screens is much of a leap forward though.
Overall the event was great and in a time of global financial slowdown, the industry seemed remarkably upbeat (apart from Motorola whose presence was noticeably scaled down from last year — Samsung had taken over much of its ad space from the previous year). If the optimism persists unchecked, we may be heading for another dotcom-style boom in mobile applications.