10 Sights To See: Mobile World Congress

Explore the sights from Mobile World Conference 2012, Barcelona, where the Google booth slide is always open and the food and fashion never disappoint.

One of the things I love about the Mobile World Congress show, which just wrapped up in Barcelona, is that it brings together so many of my favorite things. Every continent and nearly every culture is represented. I enjoy listening to all of the accents intermix, watching people naturally and organically figure out how to communicate, and observing cultural norms.

Mobile World Congress also brings together every aspect of the mobile ecosystem, from the component and chip companies to the device manufacturers to the after-market third parties to the mobile operators to the applications and content companies to the infrastructure companies, and probably a few in between. And I met with a bit of the whole spectrum.

While Mobile World Congress serves as a great marketing vehicle for every mobile company in the world, it's also a place where deals get made.

Barcelona was jam-packed during Mobile World Congress. The taxi lines were impossible and the Metro was incredibly crowded. In fact, the city was threatened with a transit strike leading up to the event; luckily it was averted. But we did witness a student protest in the square in front of the Fira (the Mobile World Congress venue) late Wednesday, causing traffic havoc as police, donning riot gear, closed the square.

We sent a big contingent of writers and videographers and photographers, across InformationWeek, BYTE, Light Reading, and EE Times (all part of our parent company UBM). And during our Mobile World Congress journey, we saw it all. There were many new phones announced, most of them Android based, but a few Windows Phone 7 devices and even one big Symbian phone (the 808 PureView from Nokia). The big deal this year: Quad-core phones, almost all using Nvidia's Tegra3 chip set. These came from LG, HTC, ZTE, Fujitsu, and Tianyu (a Chinese company that shipped a quad-core phone under its K-Touch brand). Huawei also announced a quad-core phone, but using its own chips. (For more on the smartphones, see 9 Coolest Smartphones At Mobile World Congress.)

[ Check out our complete Mobile World Congress 2012 coverage, from the mobile industry's hottest event. ]

But sometimes it's what happens behind the scenes that sticks in your mind as you depart Barcelona. The sights inside and outside the Fira were, as always, something to behold, from the protesters to the typical Google booth extravaganza (complete with smoothie bar), and some interesting performance art (including dancers, as you see in the montage photo above).

Next year, Mobile World Congress moves to a new venue in Barcelona--the Gran Via. Some of our team stayed nearby. From the outside it looks like any other convention center. While I'm sure the infrastructure of the Gran Via is better for the team that manages the conference--and this show has certainly grown large enough to challenge the Fira's capabilities--it just won't seem the same. The Fira is a magnificent, sprawling campus of buildings, with beautiful cobblestone walkways, fountains, a palace, and an arena across the street. I fear things won't be quite the same, and I'll miss it greatly. I hope Gran Via can give rise to some of the same memorable moments we had this year.