Nokia Goes Solo in Barcelona
Rather than shell out for its slice of real estate on the massive MWC show floor, as it has done in years past, the handset maker is setting up its stall around the corner from Fira de Barcelona-Montjüic, the massive showground off Barcelona's Plaça Espanya, where the Congress has been held since it migrated from the French Riviera (Cannes, for those of you who can't recall those days) several years ago.
Nokia says it's hosting visitors "a short walk from the Mobile World Congress at Once -- home of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind." There, "as an alternative to the noise and crowds at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, invited guests" -- so no gatecrashers -- "can relax on comfy sofas, enjoy delicious food and drinks as they discuss the industry and network with their peers -- all courtesy of Nokia."
[Ed note: Noise and crowds? Aren't they synonymous with successful events?]
Nokia's offer of comfy sofas only lasts 48 hours: While the Congress runs Monday through Thursday, February 15-18, Nokia is luring folk off-site for just the first two days.
The Finns aren't the only members of the handset brigade who don't want to rub shoulders with the great unwashed this year: LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) has also abandoned the MWC show floor, though it's not clear whether the Korean company intends to locate itself elsewhere in Barcelona during the Congress.
The GSM Association (GSMA) , which runs the Congress, noted that LG is "redefining its presence at Mobile World Congress and will be taking a new event strategy. This strategy is not specific to Mobile World Congress, but represents a shift in their marketing initiatives overall. As part of this new approach, LG will not have a stand on the exhibition floor; however, they will have a presence at Mobile World Congress in terms of meetings, hospitality and speaking in conference sessions."
The GSMA declined to comment specifically on Nokia's efforts to lure visitors away from the show floor, but noted that (and you may spot some similarities here) "for 2010, Nokia is redefining its presence at Mobile World Congress. Nokia remains committed to Mobile World Congress..." and so on.
The GSMA also points out that Nokia will be represented at the event, and on the show floor, by its infrastructure joint venture, Nokia Networks , which hosted Light Reading's cameraman for a whirlwind tour at last year's jamboree. (See MWC 2009: Nokia Siemens Booth Tour.)
While LG and Nokia are big names that will be missing from the exhibition this year, there's no shortage of other companies seeking to benefit from the greater chance of attracting booth traffic: The Congress has more than 1,300 exhibitors, and the GSMA is believed to be expecting about the same number of attendees as last year -- 47,000.
The Light Reading team will be part of the noise and crowds in Barcelona, and addressing the most important mobile industry issues with a number of pre-show articles and video interviews in the coming weeks. Comfy sofas, though, may be in short supply.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading