This monster’s still alive and kicking – every year in Barcelona.

Hola amigos!

From Innsbruck, off we flew (with our top awards in our luggage) to Barcelona. Once there, we headed on over to the vast Fira Barcelona venue (awards in hand!) for a monster of an exhibition-conference. And the monster was of course Mobile World Congress (MWC). As usual, everyone who’s anyone in the mobile communications/IT world was there, and it was rammed, noisy and fun! ->

I call it a monster due to its size: like a monster truck, it’s gigantic. It’s also a survivor. For it’s been around since practically year-dot when it comes to large mobile/IT exhibitions-conferences, and hasn’t fallen by the wayside like some of its former “colleagues” like the once-similarly massive CeBIT or COMDEX. MWC has managed to keep up with the times, modernize and diversify; or, to put it simpler – it just became all the more shiny and super-interesting to appeal to a broader audience. ¡Respeto!

Our romance with MWC goes way back – to when it was still known as 3GSM (it became MWC in 2008). Alas, I don’t have much to show for it today – since I’d never heard of “blogging” in the early 2000s. My earliest published bits and pieces hail back to 2010 and 2011 (just a few pics on Kaspersky Club (Google Translate text only)). Sure, MWC’s had it’s bad patches (like in 2021), but it’s bounced back (and gotten bigger and cooler and flashier every year). ¡Mucho respeto!

And here we were again ->

And in the corner of our stand – drinks awards cabinet, naturally! ->

Regarding this year’s MWC: if the internet is to believed, a full 2400 companies exhibited at it (300 of which were just from China). Tens of thousands worked the stands, while the local press reported that around a hundred thousand visitors (!) attended on each of the three days it ran for. Oh my grandiose!

The scale of the event really was staggering. CeBIT – maybe you called it a day too early?

The stands were made up of those of established brands:

And also some relative-newbies on national stands ->

The national stands reminded me of how we took part in an exhibition early on. I remember waaaay back in 1992 (that’s five years before the Kompany was founded) we were featured on the Russian stand at Germany’s CeBIT.

Meanwhile for small startups there was a good-sized section dedicated to just them. But more on that in a bit…

All-things-mobile is still the main theme at MWC; and when I say all things I mean that literally: there were even robots here designed specially for… shock/impact/scratch/folding testing of mobile phones! ->

Curiously, mobile here at MWC now covers automobiles ) ->

Told you things were shinier! ->

There’s also now all-things-air-mobile ->

Ok. Up to here’s been the intro. Now for some detail…

MWC 2024 was spread across eight pavilions: two – enormous; six – much smaller. We were in the second – here ->

Actually, that’s just half of it. Here’s the other half looking the other way:

…It measures around 400×100 meters! ->

On the second floor of the exhibition complex there’s this here walkway-highway. And it’s a reeaally handy feature, since getting from one end of the building to the other on the ground floor through the thronging crowds takes ages and is a real pain in the trasero. In the pic there’s hardly anyone there, for it was taken on the morning of the first day; even here it got busy later too, but it was still much easier to traverse than the ground floor ->

The biggest stand by far – taking up almost all the first hall was… can you guess?…

Clue: it’s Chinese, and it’s best known for making cellphones…

Answer! ->

It was less of a stand and more of a village – the Huawei village! Incredible. And of course it reminded me of its similarly gigantic head office metropolis in Shenzen last year!

Immense it was. Very popular too ->

Now, since I’m neither a blogger nor a journalist by profession, hereinafter in this post I won’t be giving you detailed descriptions of the stands; I’ll stick simply to my overall impressions. And anyway, I didn’t have time to see everything at the exhibition as I was more than busy on our own stand: over three days I had a two dozen meetings, several press interviews, and assorted other meets-and-greets and chats.

Looking around this year’s MWC, was I sad that it’s not quite the same as it once was? Not at all! Just the opposite. Everything I did manage to see was thoroughly interesting and/or fun, and very often eye-poppingly eye-opening. I was like the proverbial kid in the candy shop, but I was an adult checking out all the very latest pocket-sized mobile tech – made all the more curious given my interminable cybersecurity stance.

First, a bit of rewind-history…

We’ve been coming here since… [consulting my archives]… 2007! I remember that first time being asked repeatedly, “What are you doing here? This is an exhibition of mobile phones and technology.” Gladly, such questions weren’t being asked just two years later when we came here for the third time. The questions had become serious and on-point. And already by the fourth time we were signing contracts on our stand. Exponential development indeed! Details – here (Google Translate only).

A few years later, in 2012, I recall coming here and fortune-telling re the future of mobile operating systems (“Something tells me Android is the future Windows for mobile OS.”) Twelve years later? Ooh! :)

I remember coming here in 2017 and being fairly amazed that MWC had become more than just about all-things-mobile. There’d been added things like the internet of things, smart robots, automated manufacturing and logistics, and assorted other things.

The following two years I was too busy for MWC (!), and then came 2020 when it was cancelled. In 2021 it was back – but only partly: about a third or half of its usual size.

The following two years I passed on MWC again (busy as a bee – that’s me); which brings me, finally, to 2024…

My main impression at this year’s event was the M in MWC is back in a fully meaningful sense: it’s returned to its roots – to all-things-mobile-systems. Mainly – mobile phones, 5G, and assorted other telecoms. IoT bits and pieces were to be found this year (even on our stand), but not so many. There were no entertaining robots, no robotic arms playing the drums or doing a Rubik’s Cube in seconds, and no oddball startups like those putting microchips in marine life. And I only saw two futuristic cars. So, like I say – M by name is now back to being M by nature too.

I couldn’t agree more ->

Curiously, I didn’t see much in the way of the secure by design concept. What can I say? “Safe journey… in cyberspace!”

Aha – there were fun robots here! But it was for physical testing of mobile phones only. Btw – you see the two units to the right and left behind the robot (blue and yellow)? One is set to -20˚ С, and the other +60˚ С. What they do is open and close those fancy foldable mobile phones non-stop to see how long they last at different temperatures. I wonder why they’ve only gone as cold as -20˚С?

Meanwhile the robot fairly tortures the mobiles it’s “testing”: it waterboards them, taps them with knives, and pours sand onto their screens and then has the sand scrape across said screens with a brush. Ouch! ->

Mini-planes and helicopters ->

(Meanwhile in China…)

Suddenly – consulting and auditing companies. Mobile? Clearly so…

A full two floors of the last pavilion (No. 8) were dedicated to startups. And quite right too. I’m sure the costs for their participating were small (if there were any at all), but an event like this would be so helpful to them (I should know since we were once just like them). I remember admiring such a format (a small table and an electricity socket and that’s it for each startup) in Dublin in 2014 at Web Summit. And here we have it now 10 years later in Barcelona! ->

Aha – finally: some competitors of ours. But what’s that there? CTONE? Never heard of that…

Apparently it’s some kind of “5G cybersecurity”. But what 5G has to do with cybersecurity I still haven’t worked out. On the internet all I can find is marketing BS. Or maybe I’ve overlooked something? It reminds me of being asked long ago how Wi-Fi would affect cybersecurity; I answered, “Not at all!” It doesn’t matter if maliciousness comes through cables or through the air: it all still needs stopping in its tracks!

What ESET was exhibiting I didn’t get round to seeing ->

Of course, our stand was all about security for mobile platforms (both home-use and corporate) ->

We were also exhibiting solutions based on our Cyber Immune operating system ->

Distinguished guests from the United Arab Emirates (TDRA) ->

And here’s the K-crew! ->

And that’s all from MWC folks. Back soon, from… Montserrat in Catalonia!

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