Apple’s ‘Coolness’ Haunts Mobile World Congress

The more than 50,000 communications equipment and software industry professionals who attended this year's Mobile World Congress headed home knowing a few things they didn't a week ago.

It rained all week at the conference, which was not a bad metaphor for the industry. Though sales are through the roof for mobile devices, and tablet growth could quadruple, there was a sense all week of an industry not quite sure whether it can handle the wave it is riding. Besides the disquiet over whether suppliers can meet supply for touch screens there was the notable absence of {complink 379|Apple Inc.} — whose iPad was the elephant in the room.

Or not in the room, as it happened since the company did not participate but still remained the story of the week. In its place, the {complink 2294|Google} android lapel pin was the piece of convention memento everyone wanted, and MeeGo, the partnership between {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} and {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.}, continued to seek relevance. But it's not clear anyone knew whether this was the real center of the world this week for mobile, or just the sort of party where, as one executive put it, the coolest company — Apple — proves its importance, snottily, by not even dropping by.

Here's a roundup of clips from the conference:

The biggest surprise for MWC convention-goers was the appearance, quite suddenly, of a protest at the entrance gates by employees of {complink 12707|Movistar (Spain)}, the mobile wing of {complink 7974|Telefónica de España}, the largest telecommunication service provider and mobile carrier in the convention's host country, Spain. Two Movistar employees had been fired, without reason from the protesters' point of view, and a department on strike over the matter had decided to come by the massive mobile event and make some noise in the rain.

It was a fitting way to end a very odd week: mobile industry staff slipping out of the gate as fast as they could, racing from the echo chamber of the conference into the real world, where it was storming, into the arms of a crowd that was not thanking them for putting technologies into their hands (even if they wanted one: an iPad requires as much as a four-month wait in Barcelona) but instead, was screaming at them.

Even the crowds that had gathered once an hour at the booth of Russia's Convergent Business Operations Support Systems (CBOSS) — which, like every year, won the award for sleaziest sales strategy, bringing more bikini models than actual communications equipment — had thinned.

I can't wait for the 2012 conference. Thanks for being along for the ride.

11 comments on “Apple’s ‘Coolness’ Haunts Mobile World Congress

  1. SunitaT
    February 21, 2011


      Surprising to see APPLE skipping this years Mobile world congress. Any particular reason its skipped the MWC ? Also surprising is the relevance MeeGo. People still belive MeeGo will survive inspite of Nokia adopting Windows as its OS ?


  2. Marc Herman
    February 21, 2011

    Apparently they don't go to trade shows much at all anymore. No need? As for Meego, they were piggybacking on an Intel press conference and had a table about 50cm wide, but were quite game about their little patch of real estate. The general feeling was that the field is so wide open at this point that if you can stick around, you do.


  3. Himanshugupta
    February 21, 2011

    I am quite surprized that people are still looking for Meego's relevance. If i believe and interpret what Paul Ottellini said about Nokia's choice to go with Windows OS, i think he himself believes in Android more than MeeGo. Although he also said that Intel will look for another parter to go ahead with MeeGo but i highly doubt that MeeGo will have any impact in the mobile OS domain.

  4. DataCrunch
    February 21, 2011

    Apple seems to have a policy of not attending trade shows, but rather when it has a new product to introduce or announcement to make, the company holds its own event.  The same elephant in the room happened at the previous Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, in which Apple was noticeably not present, but still managed to be one of the most talked about companies.  Looks like the company manages to be the talk of these events even when the company is not present.    Not bad.

  5. Adeniji Kayode
    February 22, 2011

    Is it not amazing that Apple often skips trading shows and yet maintain a strong status in the market place,I feel Apple has been able to do that through quality services and amazing inventions in the electronics world.

  6. Marc Herman
    February 22, 2011

    Re: MeeGo, the short answer is that Intel's on board, so that keeps them relevant for at least awhile:

  7. elctrnx_lyf
    February 22, 2011

    Apple, no wonder that they are not present at the MWC. They always distinguish from all, not just in the products but also they reach the people. They will just design outstanding products with a creative engineers and a leader with a vision of future. Probably Apple will show us something new in this year. Any guesses what apple would be upto in the next couple of years?

  8. Tim Votapka
    February 22, 2011

    I don't think Apple loses any traction when it doesn't attend a trade show. As I'm reading this post, my son's watching “Marmaduke” on DVD and there's a great scene showing a Powerbook getting dropped kicked into a swimming pool. The infamous Apple logo is well placed in the next scene where the owner is working on the machine as if nothing went wrong with the system. It's the second Apple laptop placement I've seen in just one night. The other one was on the hit sit-com “The Office.”

    Apple's not starving for visibility!

  9. Mydesign
    February 23, 2011

         It is NOT amazing that Apple often skips trading shows and it seems that they have a policy of not attending trade shows and such events. They always distinguish from other players and they well know how to reach the people by a well design product. They made it possible by a group of creative engineers and leader with visions about future trends. One way we can say that Apple is a trend maker and trend setter, by releasing distinguished products at regular intervals to the market. But mean time when it has a new product to launch or announcement to make, the company holds its own events and press conferences. They maintain a strong status in the market place through quality of services, post sale feedbacks and requirement gathering for amazing inventions.

  10. Ashu001
    February 27, 2011


    The more important question is the Rest of the industry ready and willing to steal significance/visibility from Apple.

    Apple is a massive colossus in the mobile space,No Doubt about it.But what about the rest of the players?? Are they just going to sit around and watch Apple steal all the thunder(as well as Customers).

    Frankly I expected more from the rest of the industry.They need to do much-much more to challenge Apples dominance(both from a Technology as well as Advertising point  of view),



  11. Tim Votapka
    March 7, 2011

    In case anyone's interested, I found this list of Twitter people who follow Apple. Free data as far as I'm concerned, so don't hold me to its worth.

    • Jacqui Cheng (@eJacqui) Apple editor for Ars Technica
    • Jim Dalrymple (@jdalrymple) Editor of The Loop, veteran Apple columnist
    • Philip Elmer-DeWitt (@philiped) Apple reporter for Fortune Magazine
    • John Gruber (@gruber) Author of Daring Fireball
    • Andy Ihnatko (@ihnatko) Apple pundit
    • Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) Venture capitalist, former Apple employee, former Mac columnist
    • Steven Levy (@stevenjayl) Author and columnist on Apple topics
    • Tim Robertson (@mymac) Podcaster; founder of
    • John Siracusa (@siracusa) Apple writer for Ars Technica
    • Jason Snell (@jsnell) Editorial Director of Macworld
    • Brian Tong (@brian_tong) CNET TV host of AppleByte and Prizefight
    • Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) Columnist covering Google and Apple

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