Monday, March 31, 2008

Mobile World Congress 2008 in Barcelona in February

I’m a little behind on my blogging, it’s just been crazy lately with too much work.

I was in Spain on business in February for a week to attend the Mobile World Congress, a big tradeshow, held at Fira de Barcelona. For all my years in the telecoms & wireless industry I have never been to this show, not even when it was called GSM World Congress and then 3GSM and was held for many years in Cannes. It was interesting to finally get a chance to attend this event, which is huge for all network infrastructure, service and mobile phone providers and carriers / operators to gather and discuss new industry trends and requirements. The event is typically attended by some 50-60,000 key decision-makers in the mobile industry.

A nice panorama photo taken at Fira Barcelona by one of my colleagues

I had meeting after meeting and walking around the tradeshow for four days... I didn't see much of Barcelona other than the conference facilities, restaurants and the inside of a few salsa clubs.

Symbian was there with the theme "Tomorrow's technology - today's phones". We had a booth in Hall 8 with good technology demos, a couple of speaker / panel opportunities, and a Hospitality Suite on the Fira Avenue to nurture and meet with customers, important partners and press. I went to visit my old colleagues in the Sony Ericsson booth and checked out some new phones. Symbian also threw a big party at an off-site venue with about 800 guests with local DJs and a live band called The Pinkertones, one of Barcelona's hottest new acts.

Symbian booth
Panel discussion
Symbian Hospitality Suite
Senior Product Manager, Lars Lindström, demonstrating some new smartphones in Sony Ericsson’s booth

The Fira entrance / exit gates

I found three fairly descent salsa clubs, which I visited on different nights. I managed to get a couple of colleagues to tag along to Antilla Latin Club on a Saturday night. The place was quite busy but unfortunately there were not many good dancers. I spotted one tall guy with long hair (kind of reminding me of the famous Swedish tennis player Björn Borg back in the days when he had long hair) that seemed to be the best there that night and invited him to dance which turned out to be a good move. Funnily enough, he showed up at the other two salsa clubs I tracked down while in Barcelona on other nights.

On Sunday night I went out on my own to Mojito Club. They celebrated their 10th anniversary on the night I was there, served champagne and handed out gifts. They also had a dance performance by some local dancers and a salsa band playing. I saw someone at the bar looking exactly like Ricky Martin but since he and his lady company seemed to enjoy the evening without much extra stir around them I assumed it was just a look-alike.

I met up with a salsa friend from Stockholm, John, who works for IBM and happened to be at the MWC as well this week. On the last night in Barcelona, or Barca, as many people call it, we had a long dinner catching up on life in the fast lane and then went to Agua de Luna, apparently the “place to be” on a Wednesday night in Barca if you’re into salsa.

Sure enough, there you could spot all the famous and good dancers that travel to international salsa congresses around the world, and I had the pleasure of dancing with the world champion of salsa 2007, Adrian (saw him compete with his partner in Puerto Rico last summer – see separate blog post about the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress 2007), and another quite well-known performer, Ramón, who took turns dancing with me to a couple of super fast Mambo songs...! Lots of fun but it resulted in me getting sore ribs and abdomen from dancing like crazy. I am apparently in poor shape these days! ;-)

Very pleased but beat after an activity-filled week in Barca with too little sleep I returned to London with the last night of great salsa fresh in my mind and body, and a big smile on my face.

I am hoping that next time I will have time to actually see more of Barcelona.

No comments: