The shows must go on: why we need a buoyant MWC
25th Feb 2014 | 15:00
Unpacked presence has lifted Barcelona's showcase
From never-ending orchestras to tapas, giant stands to guerrilla pitches, Mobile World Congress is certainly a spectacle, and with the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony's Xperia Z2 it can certainly lay claim to being one of technology's most relevant shows.
Apple's decision to make announcements far from the madding crowd, eschewing shows for tightly controlled events with no chance of noise from anywhere else disrupting their polished showcase, has sparked many copycats.
2013 saw Microsoft launch the Xbox One at a solo event, as did Sony with the PlayStation 4. Samsung's Galaxy S4 was given (controversially) dancing girls and jazz hands and Apple's iEvents were present and accounted for. Even HTC got in on the act with the One.
This year has seen something of a shift - with Samsung bringing its Unpacked event back, if not into the physical halls of MWC, then at least within the Barcelona city limits.
The more cynical may suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S5 and its back-to-basics innovations sat easier in among its peers rather than standing alone to be shot at but that shouldn't take away from the show.
From a journalist's point of view the status of the big shows versus smaller events for big products remains a big discussion point.
In truth, feeding on the hype of those individual events brings big advantages; allowing us to focus on a single brand's wares and that focus allows excitement to build in a way that a big show simply does not allow.
But the shows ARE important as well, allowing us to see the innovations away from the chasing pack and giving the smaller names a chance to shine. But for the shows to flourish, the big boys need to save some of their announcements for these mass-events.
The sheer scale of Mobile World Congress allows for a fantastic view of the world of phones - a snapshot of what's roasting hot and what's indisputably not.
Should the S6 be a little more innovative, Samsung may well feel that Unpacked should be pulled back out of its MWC wrapper in 2015. But the presence of a big, big flagship phone from Samsung has enlivened MWC, especially alongside Sony's impressive-looking Z2 and the talk-of-the-town Nokia X.
A taxi driver on the way to the Congress said he'd been told the show brings in €350 million to this beautiful Catalan city, and although it's not always wise to listen to cabbie facts, it's clear that a show of this magnitude in Europe brings a good deal to the technology world.
- Keep up to date with MWC 2014 here