Come February and its time for another mega event for the mobile industry 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. This year saw 55,000 visitors and 1,300 exhibitors. I have compiled together reports from various sources to provide a snapshot of the discussion.
Perhaps the best summary of the learnings from 3GSM comes from Katherine Hannaford. She has put together a list of 30. Here are a few:
1. There was no big theme this year
3GSM 2006 saw immense hype around mobile TV, with companies queuing up to proclaim it the Next Big Thing in mobile entertainment. The fact that it’s since disappointed means that the lack of a single big hype this year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There was lots of buzz, but spread around a bunch of subjects, which is a healthier state of affairs.
2. Mobile social networking is a hot topic
There were lots of companies – many of them startups – promising to create MySpace-like communities for mobile. Meanwhile, the big players – the actual MySpaces, Bebos and so on – were undoubtedly at 3GSM, even if they weren’t talking about their plans…People aren’t sure if mobile-only social networks will succeed, for example, or whether mobile is just an add-on to existing web communities. 2007 should give some clues.
10. The operators need to sort out their data-tariffs
If we’re all going to be downloading music, video and games onto our phones from sources other than the operator’s own portals, we don’t want to be paying through the nose in data charges. Yet although T-Mobile and 3 have launched ‘flat-rate’ tariffs in the shape of Web’n’Walk and X-Series, the other operators are dragging their heels a bit.
13. Mobile TV is still underwhelming
Research firm M:Metrics surveyed 22,000 European mobile users before the show, and found that former mobile TV viewers now outnumber current mobile TV users. 45% of the people who’ve turned off say pricing issues were a factor, while 24% cite concerns over service quality and reliability.
14. Mobile blogging is growing, with photos and videos the focus
The problem with moblogging was always the assumption that people would type posts on their mobile keypad to upload. However ninja your texting skills are, it’s not very appealing.
23. Windows Mobile is gearing up for another big push
Microsoft launched Windows Mobile 6.0 at 3GSM, with all manner of on-stand demos showing off its new features, which we’ll be looking at in more detail in the weeks ahead.
30. Everyone thinks mobile advertising will be big. Nobody knows quite how it’ll work
The advertising industry loves the thought of putting ads on phones. Not least because the young cool hipsters it likes to target aren’t as susceptible to TV and print ads. Along with online advertising, mobile is the new buzz area. Trouble is, nobody’s quite sure what kind of mobile advertising will work well, and what us users will put up with.
Tomorrow: Mobile Web