Mobile World Congress 2013 Musings

Mobile World Congress 2013 was held at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona in late February. It’s the biggest mobile conference with about 72,000 attendees. VMware had a booth at the conference where attendees had the opportunity to see VMware Horizon Mobile on a range of new partner devices including Sony Experia, along with a demo of VMware Horizon Workspace. For a quick view on how we view the evolving end user landscape, check out the videos here.

Outside of VMware activities, I spent three full days at the conference visiting other booths, talking to partners, customers and listening to sessions. Since there was so much to take in at the show, I’ve highlighted the top three observations that stood out the most to me during my time there. One was to be expected, the second was refreshing and the third was truly innovative.

Observation #1 – Enterprise Focus

In all the years I’ve been going to MWC, I’ve never seen as much focus on the enterprise opportunity as I have this year. The conference started off with the big attention-grabbing news that AirWatch raised a $200m funding round. Whoa, $200m?!!? That announcement and AirWatch’s booth were definitely “the talk of the town” amongst the enterprise mobility vendors at the show.

The other big enterprise-centric news was from Samsung with their Knox announcement. Knox is Samsung’s dual persona solution, similar to our Horizon Mobile solution, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the months ahead. If you are a Samsung shop, this solution promises all the benefits of our Horizon Mobile solution.

I also noticed there were more enterprise mobility vendors with booths at MWC this year than before. Air Watch, Soti, Fiberlink, Citrix and Red Bend were all well represented in the halls – and many other vendors chose to just get meeting rooms for customer discussions and demonstrations.

It certainly felt like the year of enterprise mobility at MWC 2013.

Observation #2 – Third OS ecosystem

iOS and Android are currently the premier mobile operating systems which leaves a lot of others vying for the third spot, including Microsoft, BlackBerry and numerous others. In the “others” category, the two that I was eager to see were Firefox and Ubuntu. The Firefox guys seem to be a bit ahead with about 18 committed carriers and LG, ZTE, Alcatel and Huawei as committed OEMs in their corner. However, the Ubuntu demos were solid. Their touch UI was very well thought through, and you can watch Mark Shuttleworth demo it here. I was especially impressed with their design aesthetics.

As many of us in the industry know, it’s a huge effort to create an ecosystem so I wish all these guys the best! I’m glad to see competition because at the end of the day, more competition means more innovation, which is always better for consumers.

Observation #3 – Yota phone

The device that really caught my attention was from Yota. It has two screens – one is your normal phone screen with Android apps and on the back they have a low-power electronic paper display that is ideal for reading websites, etc. without draining the battery. It’s super innovative compared to much of the competition, and I think this will get a lot of pickup. Very cool stuff!

In all, I really enjoyed checking out the latest phones and technologies at MWC and watching the mobile space grow. Our industry has come a long way and 2013 will be another fun ride. If you were at MWC, what were some of your favorite highlights and what do you hope to see change in the mobile space this year?

Side note: Probably the best experience of the visit – I was able to get tickets to see FC Barcelona play Real Madrid on the Tuesday of the show. I encourage you all to watch a soccer game in Barcelona if you have the opportunity. It was an unbelievable experience with 100,000 fans!

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