BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — This year I decided to cover the Mobile World Congress without a computer. Or at least, without my MacBook. I live in Barcelona, so I knocked out a couple of posts on my iMac when I was at home, but on the show floor and in the press lounge I relied solely on my iPad. And amazingly, it was up to the task. There are some annoyances, but with a combination of perseverance (or just stubbornness) and the right apps, I got a pretty easy system going.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — When we shuffle from meeting to product demo to boozy party it’s easy to forget what a weird place the yearly Mobile World Congress is. Tens of thousands of attendees flood Barcelona’s hotels and commandeer its taxis, while companies from tiny to huge spend a fortune to sell and promote their wares.
As Ferris Bueller might say, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. Here’s a quick look at the best, worst and weirdest of this year’s show.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — During his keynote speech on Tuesday, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said, seemingly with all seriousness, that someday, “there will be Android in every pocket.”
For someone who has been prowling around Mobile World Congress for the past four days, it’s a statement that’s hard to react to without spraying crumbs. Schmidt couldn’t sound any more delusional if he were sealed up in a hermetic chamber with a scale-model of the Spruce Goose. The iPhone dominates Mobile World Congress. Google can’t even get an Android in every pocket at its own tradeshow.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 –When Asus first announced the PadFone at Computex 2011, they did so with a level of gleefully cheesy showmanship that set Apple fans sarcastically hailing chairman Jonney Shih as South Korea’s next Steve Jobs. To many Apple fans, the PadFone — a laptop with a tablet inside with a phone inside the tablet — represented the worst of the rest of the industry’s “kitchen sink” approach to beating Cupertino. If we can’t build a phone to beat the iPhone, a tablet to beat the iPad, or an ultraportable to beat the MacBook Air, why not beat one device to beat all three at the same time?
But it’s wrong to dismiss the PadFone just because of cheesy showmanship, or because it’s not likely to topple Apple’s three pillars in one go. We had a hands-on with one, and it’s far from a cheesy device. In fact, it’s actually a little marvel.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Snapily is an app that lets you snap 3-D photographs with your iPad or iPhone, and then view them with 3-D specs. You can even order 3-D lenticular postcards from the app and have them sent to your home. It would be amazing: if it worked.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — On the surface of things, Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer Prime is just a wonderfully swell idea. Why have both an ultrabook and tablet when you can have one that is both? What if you could take your iPad, snap it onto a keyboard + trackpad, and have a MacBook Air?
It’s a nice dream, and, in actuality, the Transformer Prime is a beautiful piece of hardware. But the challenges aren’t hardware: they lie in software. And in software, neither Android nor iOS is yet up to the challenge of driving both a mobile and laptop OS. But after Windows 8 sets the bar higher, they both could be.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — If you thought that Adobe’s new Photoshop Touch was just a cut down, iPad-sized version of the desktop app, think again. I just watched a hands-on demo here at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and this deceptively simple little app is pretty amazing.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Fujitsu’s made the first Android phone that I, as an iPhone lover, found myself drooling over… which makes it a doubly good thing that the phone in question is waterproof. And not just waterproof! As thin and light and as perfect in the hand as a dream.
The only problems? Because of Fujitsu’s bizarre way of selling their devices, this phone, which has been on sale in Japan for months, doesn’t even have a set name. And forget about getting one Stateside. How does a company make a phone this beautiful and then have no idea how to market it?
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Samsung is serious about its Galaxy Note hardware, and has had a rare fit of intense product focus. The Notes are being pushed as artists’ devices. This much is obvious from the artists painting people’s portraits in the Samsung booth, and the caricatures covering every surface like a kid’s pre-school scrawlings plastered on a proud parent’s fridge door. But Samsung has also got some great developers on board.
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — One of the big stories at this year’s Mobile World Congress is Android tablets. If last year saw the things popping out like maggots from a rotting wound, this year they are skittering across the floor like a carpet of startled cockroaches. And like cockroaches, they all look pretty much the same. So let’s take a look at a couple of them: ZTE’s PF100 and T98.