A Newbie’s Guide to Mobile World Congress, From a Barcelona Newbie

Published on February 13, 2011
by Ina Fried

Heading to Barcelona for my first Mobile World Congress, I wanted to know what I was in for, so I decided to email a few Barcelona veterans to get their advice.

In Google terms, I cheated by copying off more established rivals. However, as Bing might put it, I just added a few new inputs to my coverage algorithm.

In any case, here’s what I learned overall. Barcelona is filled with pickpockets. I’ll need comfortable shoes to navigate the vast trade show and chase after said pickpockets. There’s way too much going on, so I should give up now. The food is amazing, but I will be too busy to eat any of it and should pick up some candy bars now.

On the news front, expect a lot of stuff on tablets, as well as interesting new gear from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, LG and China’s ZTE.

Here are some other specific tips I pulled out of the many awesome emails, for which I am deeply grateful. To reward those who shared their knowledge so generously, I have pulled the following out of context to present the more humorous ones and saved the most useful ones for myself.

From Mobile Industry Review’s Ewan MacLeod:

“Whatever you have actually planned, cut that in half and you might end up completing it. On my first year I booked about 40 interviews all over the place in different halls. By 11 am on Monday I was screwed.”


“Phone signal is typically rubbish. It’s a real pain when people are trying to demonstrate things. Expect 2G/GPRS and if you get 3G, it’s a bonus. With thousands of people on-site, each with 2-3 devices, it’s no surprise the networks can’t handle it.”

From TechnoBuffalo’s Noah Kravitz:

“Pickpockets are no joke. Listen to what your Mom told you the first time you were in a big city as a kid, and stuff your wallet way the heck down your front pants pocket when you walk on the streets. Seriously. And avoid big crowds of swarming people suddenly hell-bent on getting cozy with you. No joke.”

From CrunchGear’s Greg Kumparak:

“Eat everything you can find. The food is rarely disappointing.”

From Eric Zeman of Phone Scoop:

“The Fira (where the event takes place) is a whacked-out maze, and is confusing. Study a floorplan ahead of time, or find an official map/floorplan that you can download to your phone. It takes longer to get from place to place than you might think, because there is never a direct path. Give yourself enough travel time in between meetings.”

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