Wednesday, February 14, 2007

3GSM - day 3 (and last for me :-)

Day 3 is a strange day at 3GSM. The first half is fast and furious, then - after the storm - the calm builds in. At noon, the taxi line outside the show is already long. By 2 pm, they are all gone. Therefore, your Wednesday morning agenda becomes absolutely crazy, with ten meetings per hour, since everybody is trying to squeeze in one last meeting. Past lunch time, the wind is gone.

Left alone, in the afternoon I spent some time visiting Hall 8. The hall where the money is. Where the exhibitors are the device manufacturers, who plunk unbelievable amounts of money to look bigger and more successful than the others.

Nokia announced a good amount of devices. Huge booth, an enormous amount of phones, each with a Finnish person ready to help you, if you had any question. A strong angle on music, which is not surprising looking at the competition. Some device updates, but mainly lots of boring phones that give you the impression they are not going in the right direction... Still, I found one that I liked. The E65. The first Nokia E series device in slider format. Nice format, appealing to the Italian eye, also powered with email and "business" features like conference calling and mute/unmute (a business feature? since when?). It supports 3G and wi-fi, but it also sports a 2 megapixel camera, and 50MB built-in memory expandable with microSD cards. A mix of features that should appeal the prosumers, that want advanced features (such as VOIP on wifi in the office) but also a compact format and a good look. I bet it is going to be a winning device for Nokia. At least, it shows something innovative and thought for a precise segment, which is growing fast.

Motorola had a smaller booth and really claustrophobic. Again, a million phones with the feeling they also lost their touch (it is hard to compete in this market...). The MOTORIZR Z8 was supposed to be the star of the show. But with that yellow line, I did not even bother opening it. It is just ugly. Some updates on the Q were pretty cool, but I can't say I felt innovation was there.

The Sony Ericsson booth was full of cool music phones. Still, it wasn't crowded. Although as a company they might not be considered trendy, they are in a fun hip trend and I feel they are creating devices that people want to buy. There is a clear segment for a music - phone convergence and they are hitting it big. Kudos to them, I believe they will keep doing great.

The LG booth was very sophisticated, with the Chocolate everywhere. Classy, almost upscale, it gave you a feeling of wanting in. As in a party where you do not know if you will have to stay outside for an hour to wait or if you will be chosen to join the lucky ones. The superstar was the one LG Prada phone (a.k.a. the iPhone killer or KE850), in the hands of a nice lady who was cleaning it after each use. Sleek, cool, it was screaming "buy me because I will make you look rich and famous". Rich for sure, since it is going to cost north of 600 euros... But I have to say it had a very nice interface, easy to use and attractive. Not having a keyboard or buttons does not prevent a call, but still makes selecting a contact a bit of a challenge. Typing a message is hard, and they offer only a simulated phone keyboard with just numbers (imagine how hard it will be with a full simulated keyboard as in the iPhone). The fact that the lady was cleaning the screen every 5 minutes makes my point on this kind of input interface... If they invent a way for humans not to sweat (Prada could), then it will be perfect. Once again, a niche device like the iPhone but quite innovative. Too bad they were copied by Apple who jumped the gun and make it all look exactly the opposite. Man, I love Steve Jobs!

That's it. I did not visit Samsung and others because I was tired. And I had to catch a flight to leave Barcelona. Tomorrow, the show is only for the exhibitors, who will visit each other since there are no visitors anymore. Enjoy the rest of the show, I am out of here :-)