The first thing I experienced when I got out of the airport in Barcelona was Huawei. They had a booth/stall in the airport, as well as huge participation in the show overall. They even had a remarkable size structure that looked like an airplane hanger, which was completely cordoned off and was accessible only to people who had registered with Huawei. I wonder how many millions they spent this time…
Second was HTC, which made a remarkable announcement around their facebook phones-Salsa and Chacha. They seem to be one of the new entrants sincerely trying to make a dent by truly focusing on innovation and user experience. My belief is that HTC is the key player to watch in the race to outsmart Apple. They have a completely different cost structure, smart design, and I found that they are passionate about what they are delivering to the consumer-Incredible, Desire, Wildfire etc. in smartphones. Their Flyer tablet was pretty cool, and a worthy first attempt in this burgeoning category that is rapidly getting crowded with me-too devices.
The final Asian Tiger trend was the presence of emerging market operators. For example, Bharti Airtel, the leading operator in India, which has recently forayed into Africa through their Zain acquisition, is making remarkable strides. They picked up an award for introducing innovative products in the area of mobile money (another hot topics at this year’s MWC). I heard from others that several ministers and industry dignitaries were making the rounds to meet the leaders of this new age operator who has figured out how to make decent profits on incredibly low ARPU.
In summary, Android has leveled the playing field for handset makers, chipset vendors have made it very easy to put together smart connected devices, equipment manufacturers are innovating rapidly to address the Huawei effect, and operators are hungry to increase revenue and outsmart one other. This year should be especially exciting and innovation seems to be everywhere. No wonder Aricent and frog design’s theme of “Touchpoints of Innovation” was received extremely well at this show.