Day 41: Mobile World Congress Android Laugh Factory

by Eli Hodapp

I spent the day today at Mobile World Congress, which is the world’s largest mobile phone oriented convention. Everything except the iPhone is here. If you want to talk to some dude from Israel with an up and coming startup miniaturizing the rack equipment that attenuates signals at an actual cell tower, chances are not only do they have a booth at MWC, but their competitors do too. Everyone who makes everything from this ecosystem is here. Everyone from the Samsungs of the world that make the completed devices to people you’ve never heard of that might license a chip design that has to do with power management.

The problem with Mobile World Congress is an issue that no one still seems to really know how to deal with. Five years ago the cellular landscape was completely different. Carriers were king, and were the gatekeepers of everything from what phones are going to be offered, what content will be available, and a zillion other things that sucked so much about feature phones last decade.

Then in 2007 the iPhone happened. If you recall, most of these OEMs didn’t even believe that the iPhone could have existed as Steve Jobs demonstrated it that January. Just how cocky the RIM CEOs were about not acknowledging the iPhone is an incredible story. Here you have a company that were the unrivaled kings of email-capable mobile devices that didn’t react to the iPhone and instead spent their time bidding to buy hockey teams while they lost market share. RIM stock is hardly worth the price of the paper it’s printed on now.

Mobile World Congress is completely overrun by Android. There’s a zillion different Android phones, tablets, and “phablets,” which I guess is the horrible word they’re coining for these ridiculously large screened phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note. Samsung was demonstrating these phones by having artists draw caricatures of people on them. While what they were trying to show was how great and versatile the device is, all they were really showing is that for a non-tech savvy artist, drawing on a phone is just a massive hassle.

Anyway, the success of the iPhone and iPad seems to have forced the Android world into this position of needing to release increasingly wacky products to try to have some kind of differentiating feature that draws people in. It’s insane to see that the response this year is “Well the iPad is too big and the iPhone is too small so here’s a device that’s not quite a phone and not quite a tablet that will only fit in the pocket of your custom cargo jorts.”

This video specifically has to do with MacBooks, but it fits great in this context:

So many other products that we’re surrounded by, they want you to be very aware of just how clever the solution was.

That sums up all of Android so well, and Mobile World Congress, really. It’s sort of amazing how no one seems to actually get this except Apple.

After Mobile World Congress, I headed over to the Pocket Gamer party where things got very crazy very quickly. Like most industry parties, I made a ton of great contacts. I think the highlight of the party was talking to some English dude from ngmoco that works in their marketing department who didn’t know what TouchArcade was. I was either being trolled, or that just goes to show just how far out of touch ngmoco as a company is these days.

By the end of the party we had assembled a crew of dudes who were still thirsty, so we hopped in cabs to find another party to go to. The cab driver dropped us off at the wrong place, but being a gang of stupid English speakers, we didn’t have any idea. What we thought was the venue to this party was actually this ultra-seedy Spanish casino. We walk in, being loud and drunk, and everyone just stops and looks at us. If there would’ve been a record player, it would have made that awkward record scratch sound.

So, we did one of these and headed off to even more bars. I can’t really provide that accurate of an account of what happened next, by judging by photos on my phone, it eventually involved a bar that had a really cool bathroom.

And that’s all I have to say about that.