Review of Mobile World Congress 2008

Another show passes and we’re all exhausted after 4 days of new product demonstrations, keynote addresses and the all important networking sessions where we met countless developers who shared with us their big ideas – a big thanks to the organizers of Mobile Sunday Barcelona, Swedish Beers and the GoMoNews Blender.

The first day also coincided with a momentous occasion for the Irish as just before 9pm Kerryman “Damien Foxall” arrived in Barcelona making yatching history by becoming the first Irishman to win a non-stop round-the-world race – after an exhausting 93 days at sea! Together with his crewmate Jean Pierre Dick he crossed the finish line in the rather battered Paprec Virbac. Anyone who made it out after the first long day of the conference would surely have met some of us celebrating this heroic achievement in full Irish spirit! Congratulations

The 2008 event was also historic for 3G Doctor as it was the first in which we saw healthcare use moving onto the main agenda. In the exhibition halls Nokia were demonstrating a mobile nurse application and Alcatel Lucent were demonstrating how their remote video technologies are being used to empower health kiosks in rural areas of the developing world. There was also the demonstration of the first commercially available Health Phone (or “Wellness Keitai” in Japanglish) from the Japanese market on the stand of NTT Docomo:

An excellent product and it’s great to see a mobile operator pushing for devices that address underserved consumer needs in Japan – a country with the worlds fastest aging population.

Another first came when Captain John Pringle of the San Diego Fire Department shocked a packed auditorium when he walked past the conference delegates and onto the stage in his full firefighter apparel to present on their “Homegrown Mobile Technology Success Story”. It was fascinating to hear how they’re began to use mobile phones in critical emergency situations to deliver cost & time savings and help frontline staff save even more lives. Congratulations to Palm for having the foresight to support this important mobile innovation.

Captain Pringles talk was a part of the “Mobile Society – Society on the Move” session chaired by Mike Short (O2 & MDA) which touched on some of the many societal and health benefits of mobile. Safaricom’ CEO gave the low down on M-Pesa which I have no doubt will be a catalyst for global change (they’re now about to open an office in London) and the success of AirTel in the Indian market points to a market where entrepreneurs are fuelling rapid innovation despite enormous financial pressures – lessons for everyone. Oh and if that wasn’t inspiring enough – Ken Banks of Kiwanja was also speaking about the innovative ICT use his company has been working to empower individuals in some of the poorest regions of the world. Take a look at their website and I’m sure you’ll also be amazed with the enormous impact that such a little (mostly volunteer) company has been able to achieve.

Another interesting development was from the GSMA who have launched the GSMA Mobile Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content and it was very interesting to attend an afternoon session which brought together those who want to obstruct the misuse of the mobile environment. Very interesting to note the presence of .mobi who are taking very positive steps in this direction which we hope can help to make the mobile web better.

I think it fitting to leave the last word on this year’s event to a formidable speaker and businessman Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone, who talked about how the Mobile industry has reached a critical point and the technology is now ready. “In the end… technology is not what matters: it’s services, it’s applications, it’s experiences”

We agree and look forward to joining you all again next year when we plan to have our first exhibition stand.

9 thoughts on “Review of Mobile World Congress 2008

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