The Elephants in the Room at MWC 2012

Recently Fast Company ran a lengthy piece on the four companies that will dominate the tech economy in the next ten years: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google.

All four are tremendously powerful companies that each started in one category (book selling, search engine, etc.) and are branching out to disrupt adjacent categories. Because of this, they are all coming into conflict with one another. And they are all strong forces in mobile.

So it is strange being at Mobile World Congress where these brands have minimal, if any, presence. Apple has no official presence, but its products are everywhere either in reality (almost all attendees have iPhones) or by proxy (the iPhone is what triggered the smartphone revolution that is driving most of the business here). Amazon seems completely absent, and Facebook was involved in a talk and has a nondescript booth in one of the less trafficked halls.

The last of the four is Google. Google is here via Motorola and Android of course, though the Google name appears nowhere on their Motorola booth or the massive (and very fun and crowded) Android booth. Android is everywhere - in many ways I see this show as Android World, analogous to Macworld but on a massively larger scale. Last year at MWC I asked "Will Android rule the world?" A year later, that hasn't come to pass fully, but the expansion of Android's footprint even in the last 12 months is astonishing.

All the major announcements save for one (Nokia/Windows) here have revolved around Android: HTC, Asus, Sony, LG, Huawei, Panasonic, Samsung. Android has become almost a separate brand, and is easily Google's best branding success since, well, Google. Android chief Andy Rubin boasted that 850,000 new Android devices are being activated daily, up from 700,000 last December, and 500,000 in November. They'll hit the magic one million a day very soon I'm sure. (But it does beg the question: if everyone I see at the show, and almost everyone I see in the San Francisco bay area has iPhones - who's buying Android devices?)

But Google itself is ironically next to Facebook with an even smaller "booth":

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