Curiosities and other facts about the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

18 November, 2022 Fairs
Mobile World Congress en Barcelona

It is in its 15th edition in the city of Barcelona and in spite of the tug of war and the constant threats to leave the Catalan capital, the love story between the greatest mobile and technology event and the city, famous for its modernity and design, looks like it’s going to last at least until 2030, the date on the latest contract.

Past editions, and those years yet to come, have produced many interesting facts. Fair experts Contemporanea Eventi have gathered some anecdotes and facts you should know if you are interested in showing off your stand at the MWC 2023. Here we go!

 

5 curiosities about the Mobile World Congress

 

#1 Barcelona was not the first MWC host city

When we talk about the Mobile World Congress, the first thing that comes to mind is Barcelona and its Fira, brought about by celebrating the largest mobile communication event in the world since 2006. However, this is neither the date when the MWC first appeared, nor Barcelona was its first host city.

This honor has officially been bestowed on Rome. The Italian capital was the first city to organize the mobile phone event back in 1990, when this technology was a thing of science-fiction movies and rather than in the pocket, it was carried about in the briefcases of prestigious executives.

Since then, GSM, the company that owns the event, has changed the host city every year, taking the fair to other European cities such as Berlin, Lisbon, Athens, or Madrid in 1995. The following year, Cannes was chosen to host it permanently until 2006, when a lack of agreement between the owner and the Convention Center in Cannes (Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes) caused the move to Barcelona, where it has gained its greatest prestige and fame with the help of smartphones.

 

“Even Madrid was first MWC host city before Barcelona, when it was still called GSM World Congress, for a memorable edition that served to publicly present a groundbreaking innovation known as SMS…”

 

#2… nor is the only one

 

Thanks to the successful occasion of this event on mobile technology in Barcelona, – regarded as the most important congress in the world due to its repercussion -, other host cities have emerged around the world, all of them aimed at bringing the event closer to different markets beyond the European, as in the case of MWC Shanghai, focused on the Asia-Pacific area and held in late June. In September, the MWC Las Vegas is focused on the North American region, to finally have the MWC Africa in late October in Rwanda, whose main central axis is the evolution of technology in the continent.

These three fairs have as their main mission to bring together their different markets and all the presentations emerging from the Barcelona Mobile World Congress in a way that amplifies the exposure of what today is the most important event in the industry. They are all organized by the GSMA, which before becoming a conglomerate of mobile carriers and industry companies, was a standard in mobile technology (today 2G technology) promoted by the European Union in 1982 (then EEC), which was behind the Groupe Special Mobile (GSM) and the need to compete against the then taking-off American mobile technology.

With the addition of the USA to the use of GSM as top technology for calls and text messaging through mobile line in 1995, GSM became GSMA or Global Systems for Mobile Communications Association.

#3 The figures of the Barcelona Mobile World Congress

 

The interest behind the decision to hold the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona came about because of two reasons: the lack of space offered by Cannes for a fast-growing event, and the touristic attractions offered by the coastal city and its central European and Mediterranean nature, all in one.

The city of Barcelona welcomes 12 million tourists every year and therefore, was ready to meet the second requirement. For the first one, Barcelona offered none other than 30,000 hotel beds and 94,000 square meters of exhibition space where to find 2,200 spectacular design stands, 3,800 accredited journalists from around the world to cover the event and more than 300 exhibitors from 208 countries.

With this, the MWC – Barcelona tandem generates around 15,000 jobs, more than 100,000 visitors and a direct impact on the city estimated in more than €500 million in just 4 days. These four days bring the city to a standstill but are in a way responsible for an exhibition complex, a subway line, and the transformation of Plaça d’Europa in l’Hospitalet into a powerful business hub.

Despite the Asian, North American, and African replicas mentioned above, the MWC in Barcelona attracts visitors beyond European borders. We may find an average of 65% of all visitors from Europe, 15% from Asia, 10% from North America and the other 10% is people from Africa and the Middle East.

 

#4 A fair that is not within everyone’s reach 

 

In spite of the interest this fair generally arouses (this is a sector with a 100% of market penetration: 7,200 million mobile phones for a world population of 7,200 million), access to MWC is not within everyone’s reach.

The most affordable ticket to the Mobile World Congress is around €800 and only grants access to the two venues (Barcelona Fira Monjuïc and Barcelona Fira Gran Via); it does not cover access to conferences and the awards ceremony.

For €2,200, the Silver Pass offers the opportunity to attend the different presentations given by celebrities and CEOs, lectures and the GLOMO Awards (Global Mobile Awards) where year after year, the most significant and remarkable developments in the market receive and award, becoming the best guide for what is to come next in the market.

A must in the sector, the Golden Pass offers much more, as you will be able to rub elbows with the most prestigious executives in the mobile communication world, access to VIP areas, business lunches and other events meant to procure networking at its highest level. All this for €2,700.

The MWC organizers have come up with an even more exclusive pass: the Platinum Pass. For €5,000, you can have an all-inclusive ticket at the highest level, with commodities such as airport pick-up, VIP parking, seat reservation at all the most important events and all kinds of amenities while visiting the fair as far as attention is concern.

These prices might seem somehow excessive, but good organization and a perfect planning can be easily paid off with access to important executives and technological souvenirs that sometimes are the latest models exhibited at the fair.

 

#5 The Mobile World Congress had its own “Razzie Awards” 

 

With an impact similar to the movie awards per excellence and considered a parody award show, the Razzies honor the worst in film with the best sense of humor. The awards given annually at the MWC, like the best in mobile technology (the above mentioned GLOMO), had a counter award known as “the worst of the year” and called the Fiasco Awards; these were celebrated from 2009 to 2013.

So, while the GLOMO Awards commemorate the best of the year in several categories (best smartphone, best mobile innovation, best mobile operator, best security solution, best infrastructure, etc.), the Fiasco Awards celebrated those technologies that promised more than they could deliver.

This was the case of Blackberry, which couldn’t adapt its messaging system to new operational systems, or 2013 Apple maps, whose mistakes forced its creators to recommend the use of Google Maps. Or Second Life, which promised to become the most important social network mimicking Sims and ended up being a meeting place for snobs. Google Buzz was also the first, and also a failure, attempt to gain quota in social media.

These technology Razzie Awards took place almost in secrecy (no support from official agencies, specially the GMSA) in 5 editions in different locations around Barcelona like Aliança del Poble Nou or Sala Elephant. Organized by a group of engineers through a website that no longer exists, people could nominate and vote their favorite technological fiasco.

15 editions that have left a mark in Barcelona, as much as in the rest of the technology world. 15 editions in which we have seen from the rise of Samsung – Apple, to the fall of colossuses such as Nokia and Blackberry. Unforgettable presentations such as the iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy and Samsung S, Android system, Internet of Things, flat and flexible screens, smartwatches and many more developments in a sector, the mobile communication, that seems to never reach its highest point.

Would you like to be part of this world? We, Contemporanea Eventi, can help you with everything relevant to having a stand at the MWC; and all thanks to our extensive experience designing fair stands around the world and our participation in the greatest mobile communication event since the beginning of its journey in Barcelona.

 

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