Booze, tablets and paella.
Day three of the MWC has just dawned. Today, tens of thousands of journalists and industry personnel will make their way to Fira Barcelona to check out the next year in gadgets and mobile technology. They'll network, they'll argue and- most of all- they'll drink preposterous amounts of Estrella beer and Sangria.
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Outside of the regional boozes, you'd expect the Mobile World Congress to be just another giant trade show. But it isn't. Unlike your "average" trade show, the MWC is wedged right in the middle of one of Europe's great old cities. On a practical level, this means you'll find palaces and world-famous art sitting next to hideous, tacky pre-fab buildings and stands selling overpriced sandwiches.
For the purpose of illustration (and because it made me feel like a spy) I shot this video of the entrance to MWC.
You may have noticed that there are (roughly) a metric crap-ton of police officers. They cluster in groups of five and ten, all around the convention. They're all very polite, but they don't really seem to do much but stand around and ogle. Can you imagine drawing a better duty?
Upon entering MWC, it's impossible to not notice the national palace. It looms over the entire event, a constant reminder that this is a place with slightly more history than "all the casinos live here".
But this is the tech industry. We appreciate breathtaking architecture and old, classy things. But we appreciate stuffing our faces even more. Which is why there's a giant pre-fab Paella restaurant directly adjacent to the palace.
It is as delicious as it is overpriced.
The GSMA- who organizes this conference every year, is adamant that MWC is a "green" show. The paper and the USB drives all come from recycled materials. All of this makes exhibitors even freer with the brochures and flash drives. I end every day with my laptop bag and pockets packed full of crap. Pieces of paper, little dolls, Android pins, foam models of gadgets...it's enough to make you suspect a bit of "greenwashing".
But hey! Look at how pretty this fountain is:
Like any trade show, everything is hideously expensive. And, also like any trade show, if you have to pay for a meal or drinks on the show floor you're doing it wrong. Every night is filled with parties hosted by major industry players. Usually they involve limited product demos, followed by extensive "networking".
For those of you who have never "networked", I'll walk you through the process.
Step 1: Meet New Colleague at Bar. Pick his brain about whatever product/service this party ostensibly promotes.
Step 2: Branch out to ribald discussion about this year's convention.
Step 3: Exhaust all work-related conversation topics. Switch to stronger beer and start arguing about politics.
Step 4: Either a fist fight, or a life-long friendship. Possibly both.
And now, it's just about time to suit up for another day in the trenches. I'll be back at the end of the show with a wrap-up of all I've seen. Until then, I'll leave you with an image I believe encapsulates this whole weird event:
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