Mobile World Congress (MWC), previously held in Cannes but more recently making its home in Barcelona, is widely regarded as the biggest event in the mobile calendar. Sure, Las Vegas’ annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) generally has some big mobile stuff, but MWC is the big daddy. The main event. The real deal.
Having said that, there are signs that MWC is becoming less relevant in the current climate, with this year’s conference in particular threatening to induce major shruggage.
While Apple has little interest in playing with others, MWC typically – okay, usually – plays host to (most of) the other big names in mobile: Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, RIM, Nokia…
In recent years we’ve seen numerous flagships launch at MWC, including the Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC Desire, HTC One X, and, er, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.
However, times are a-changin’, and several manufacturers are taking a page out of Apple’s book, opting instead to have their own high profile launch events, rather than share – or fight for – the limelight in Barcelona.
Looking back, the cracks have been evident for a few years. While the conference generally runs from Monday to Thursday, some of the bigger players (Samsung and Sony spring to mind) would launch their new junk on the Sunday prior to the show. What the…?
And last year, at MWC 2012, there was a major snub from Samsung, with the South Koreans deciding not to showcase the Galaxy S III. Those sons of…
There was plenty of speculation as to why that was the case, with the most logical assumption being that Samsung wanted to close the gap between launch and release; actually sell the Galaxy S III while the post-launch buzz was still in effect. Makes sense, I guess.
The Samsung Galaxy S II, on the other hand, was unveiled at MWC 2011 in February, and didn’t go on sale till May that year. Pretty silly.
Anyway! Fast-forward to MWC 2013, and we’ve already had two fairly major dollops of bad news.
Sticking with Samsung, we’re told that the South Koreans mightn’t bother with a press event at all, instead simply showing off its wares on some sort of stand, presumably with a few token booth babes dotted around.
As for everyone’s favourite Taiwanese manufacturer (no offense Acer and Asus), the HTC M7 is almost certainly set to launch on February 19, with events in London and New York.
We’ve heard mention of a couple more HTC smartphones, but they’re expected to arrive after MWC 2013. Heck, they’re significantly more modest than the flagship, so we can’t say we’re hugely excited anyway.
So, with Samsung and HTC seemingly set to keep a low profile, and Sony already launching the Xperia Z at CES last month, that leaves, uhm, Huawei and ZTE to possibly launch a bunch of Chinese stuff that mightn’t make it to the UK.
Oh, and not forgetting Nokia (ahem), and LG, which may or may not unveil the Optimus G2. The latest rumours suggest it’ll arrive in fall (or “autumn”, to you and me), so don’t get your hopes up.
To be fair, with literally hundreds of companies attending, there’s a whole bunch of other networking and businessy behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on, but for the smartphone fan, there’s simply less and less to get excited about as the years roll on.