Final countdown to the world’s main mobile phone and technology congress

This year's edition Mobile World Congress will be the first after Barcelona was officially declared the Mobile World Capital, and the organising city of this annual event until at least 2018. The MWC will start on February 27th with the motto “Redefining mobile”. More than 1,400 companies will be present and organisers expect to break last year’s records. There will also be three times more Catalan companies.

CNA / Jordi Pueyo i Busquets

January 26, 2012 11:54 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The world’s largest and most important meeting of the mobile phone industry is going to take place next month in Barcelona. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) will kick start on February 27th with more than 1,400 companies present. It will run until March 1st. The motto for 2012 will be “Redefining mobile”, as the MWC wants to debate about the mobility concept and to reflect the broad use of cell phones and mobile technology in a wide range of fields such as healthcare or finance. It will be the first MWC organised after Barcelona was declared the Mobile World Capital last summer and was confirmed to be the host city every year until at least 2018, with parallel events taking place throughout the year. However, the Catalan capital has already hosted this top international event for the last five years. On Thursday, the GSMA –which organises the congress– launched the 2012 MWC. John Hoffman, GSMA’s CEO, said that this year they are expecting to break last year’s records, when more than 60,000 professionals from the mobile phone industry and related technology attended the event. Last year the MWC had an economic impact of €270 million for the Catalan capital. In 2012 it is expected it could reach €275 million, said Hoffman. Besides, he also confirmed that in the next edition there will be 52 Catalan companies, which represent 50% of all the Spanish companies present. Hoffman believes that it is important to have a dynamic mobile phone and high technology industry rooted in Barcelona, in conjunction with the declaration of the Catalan capital as the Mobile World Capital.

One month to go until the start of the world’s most important trade fair related to the mobile phone industry, which takes place in Barcelona at the end of February every year. It will be the sixth time that the Catalan capital will host the Mobile World Congress and the first since Barcelona was declared the Mobile World Capital. Hoffman insisted on Thursday that confirming Barcelona as the organising city until at least 2018 and naming the city the Mobile World Capital “was the right decision”. “Since we moved to Barcelona, the MWC has continued to grow and grow”, he stated. Furthermore he said that it has been “absolutely proven by past experiences and the support of the Catalan and Spanish governments”. “Barcelona is the world capital of the mobile phone industry, and it will still be it in the future”, Hoffman stated. Capital not only from a business point of view, concentrating for some days the most important people and companies of the sector worldwide, but from a knowledge and institutional perspective as well. Ministerial delegations from some 135 countries will attend the conference, which is the largest meeting of world governments after the United Nations, underlined Hoffman.

A task force to consolidate Barcelona as the true gravity point for the world mobile industry

Referring to the capital status of the mobile industry, Agustí Cordón, General Director of Fira de Barcelona (Barcelona’s Trade Fair), explained that despite the project being officially launched in 2013, a task force of some 30 people is already working to build the technical bodies that will face the challenge to consolidate Barcelona as the true gravity point of the world mobile industry. The task force is formed by representatives from the City Council, the Catalan Government, and Barcelona Tourism Board as well as by consultants, technology companies, and phone operators. The plan will be unveiled on the first day of the MWC.

A congress not only for telecom companies

Hoffman explained that the congress will mainly focus on the executives of companies working not only in the telecommunications sector, but also in fields that might benefit from mobile technology, such as healthcare or finance. In total, 1,400 companies will be present at the 2012 MWC, 106 of which being Spanish and 52 Catalan.

“Good news” to have more Catalan companies every year

Hoffman was pleased to announce that the presence of Catalan companies is growing year on year. It is “good news”, as the mobile industry and the MWC needs to have companies based in Barcelona and its surroundings. The Catalan Government’s General Director for Industry, Joan Sureda, pointed out that in 2007 there were only 11 Catalan companies present. In 2012 they will be 52, almost five times more.

“Redefining mobile”, the 2012 motto

“Redefining mobile” is going to be the MWC motto this year. Hoffman explained that beyond the phone terminals, the congress will also reflect on the mobility concept and the related technology and services. GSMA CEO stressed the broad use of smart phones for communication and entertainment, but he insisted that the mobility concept has to go beyond that. Mobile technology has a long run, and is here to stay, in a wide range of sectors, such as finance and healthcare. For instance, Hoffman put the example of using mobile phones to increase access to medical information in developing countries. Furthermore, mobile technology can also strengthen energy efficiency, he said.

“Visionary conferences”

As in past editions, CEOs of the main companies working in the mobile technology sector and technology gurus will come to deliver master classes or to offer “visionary conferences”. Some of the top speakers are the CEOs of Google, Eric Schmidt; Nokia, Stephen Elop; and HTC, Peter Chou.

Besides these top conferences there will be many others, grouped in themes such as ‘applications’, ‘cloud computing’, ‘mobiles and health’, among many others. Two of the themes that will be given more room are that of using mobile devices to make payments and or their use related to marketing and advertising, grouped under the name ‘mPowered brands’. Other issues dealt with in 2012 through conferences, forums, debates, and workshops are the use of the radio frequency spectrum, increased reality, security, corporate strategy, market development, media, entertainment, local topics, and social networks.

In 2013, the MWC will move to another venue in Barcelona

Hoffman explained that the 2012 edition will be the last one organised in the Montjuïc pavilions of Fira de Barcelona, next to Plaça Espanya (Espanya Square) and the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). In order to grow even further, the Mobile World Congress will move to the other side of the Montjuïc hill, to the Gran Via facilities of Fira de Barcelona, which are larger. However, Hoffman said that some venues of Montjuïc could still be used, perhaps for parallel events.