MWC 2013: Tim Green: "The new Fira - the heart of blandness" | Mobile Industry | Mobile Entertainment

MWC 2013: Tim Green: "The new Fira - the heart of blandness"

MWC 2013: Tim Green:
Tim Green


Industry / February 28th 2013 at 2:00PM

New venue is more CostCo than Miro. But at least there are putting facilities.

With pant-wetting anticipation, 70,000 headed off to Barcelona to see how the MWC would transfer from the weird but eccentrically charming Fira de Montjuic to the new Fira de Barcelona.

Would it be the great sterile barn of popular myth?

Oh God, yes.

First off, the new Fira was miles outside the city, safely away from the muggers, the shops, the beautiful buildings and pulsing heart of one of the world's great cities.

That meant getting on a train.

The only upside of this was the fear on the faces of the American delegates as they got a taste of the misery millions of Europeans encounter every working day.

Many just opted out and queued for taxis. A brave few got on the train, and tried to disguise their naked terror by closing their eyes and pretending they were in their Chevrolets listening to REO Speedwagon.

On emerging from the station, we were faced with twin towers at the entrance. This was a little visual joke by the organisers to thank Montjuic for its years of service. It was the kind of joke that fitted a convention full of end to end providers of leading solutions with mottos like 'Unleashing the power of tomorrow" (that's genuine, by the way).

i.e. not funny.

The two towers appeared to have been built by Catalan children with lego. They did their best, and just about deserved the crisps and sweets they were paid with.

And so we continued our journey into the heart of blandness, up the escalators to join the great drift of humanity walking the seven miles between hall 1 and hall 8.1.

I say humanity, but of course I really mean middle aged white men. After all, MWC is a show where these besuited heroes go to meet other middle aged white men for chat and good times and – who knows? – maybe something more (I'm thinking biz dev, rather than casual sex, but I'm not judging).

The show is so ludicrously mono-demographical it's almost funny.

If you're a middle aged white male reader, just do a thought experiment here: imagine that 67,000 of the 70,000 participants were black women, 2,000 more were black men, and 990 were white women.

That's 10 delegates left, of which you are one.

Hey, I know we're all the same under the skin, and that colour is ultimately irrelevant. But black female visitors to MWC, I salute you. It must be very very weird.

As a show for white guys, it was perfectly understandable that MWC should feature two golf courses for the first time. A fine innovation, and one I've long campaigned for. Frankly, it's outrageous that delegates have had to wait 24 years for a telco show that can help them with their putting.

Mike Short, hang your head in shame.

Another very welcome innovation was speedy NFC entry, which was only a little bit slower than passport and badge (more on my NFC experience next week) and men's toilets that no longer smell of men's excrement.

But the new venue did retain some of the charms of the old one. Like before, there was nowhere to sit and the restaurant queues were immense unless you did lunch at 4.30pm.

The press office, as ever, was packed with epsilons who found a desk at 8am and stayed there all day. No meetings or (God forbid) story hunting for them. Just press releases and disgusting biscuits.

The stand numbering also remained unchanged from the old days. While halls went logically from 1 to 8, once you were inside them it was a logic puzzle inside a quadratic equation: Stand 5B10? Between 5Z35 and 5T27, of course. Just turn left at π.

You needed a maths degree to work it out – and only 73 per cent of MWC visitors have got one of those.

I'm also delighted to report that, as before, the exciting App Planet was a reassuring distance from the main action. Only the genuinely committed made the trip to hall 8.1. I believe some never came back, choosing to settle down and have children there.

Overall, I suppose it's hard to argue that MWC had outgrown the old Fira and that the new one is better suited to the awesome scale of the event.

It's now like shopping at Walmart, where you get everything you need in one convenient location, but you feel like killing yourself at the end of it because it reminds you we're living in a mostly empty universe and that life has no meaning.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

* This week's MWC coverage is kindly sponsored by dotMobi. dotMobi is an expert provider of mobile web technology helping companies reach their customers, no matter what the device, the content, or the context. Visit for more on the DeviceAtlas device detection solution, the goMobi mobile website publishing solution and the .MOBI domain. Visit dotMobi at MWC, stand C14, App Planet Hall 8.1.