3GSM Diary: Loose lips at LHR, mobile TV, mobile IM and more

Day 1
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

Day 1

There is always a buzz as the top brass from the mobile industry head to Cannes each year for the sector's biggest conference. And the buzz appears undiluted as this February they leave for Barcelona, the new hosting city for 3GSM.

silicon.com's correspondents both travelled to the city from London and, as usual, it's interesting what can be seen and heard along the way. There are the obvious marketing messages, with all sorts of companies trying to steal a march before the show even begins but then there are the snippets of conversation you hear, the last-minute shouts into a mobile phone before the plane doors close. Do none of these people think there are competitors and even - shock - journalists within earshot?

One favourite this time involved two gentlemen from a network operator. (Which one, we couldn't say.) They looked down at an invite, to a fancy dinner by all accounts, and one laughed at the other: "Well that's about the best thing [insert name of a leading vendor] is going to do for us all year."

This writer resisted the temptation to follow that one up but recalled last year where one of the most interesting places to hang out was the Microsoft 'press café' at a hotel in Cannes. Now given that you'd expect a fair few journalists to be waiting around in such a place (for briefings, rather than the quality of the Java), was it not indiscreet for executives to be standing nearby rehearsing their 'This is what we say when people mention BlackBerry...' mantra?

But back to the journey over. Apparently, before any bombardment of the senses at a busy Barcelona airport, where half the world seemed to be arriving, LHR saw Motorola 'babes' - you know what we mean - but not only were they airside on this drab Sunday afternoon but sporting TVs seemingly glued to their tummies.

What to do - ogle or look away? Looking back down at a Sunday newspaper one couldn't help but notice a story claiming all the Big Five European operators will this week announce a cross-network IM standard. What that would mean for SMS revenues, we can only guess.

Attention-grabbing as one exited the airport at the other end were huge billboards for Samsung and ads for the likes of TI, LG and I think Nokia. If I can't remember the other dozen or so efforts what does that say?

But to the serious business... last year the big - and frankly rather unwieldy - word on everyone's lips was HSDPA, 3.5G if you like. This year that technology is happening - inside laptops (Dell are here in force this year) and even phones, cue that big Samsung ad.

Which means at this 3GSM we'll be seeing a lot of hype for something that isn't yet happening. And that thing is... mobile TV.

Arguably of less interest to readers of this publication - unless you happen to be involved in the future of TV or are a network operator eager for more revenue - mobile TV is in its early stages, which of course means several different standards competing for mindshare and trying to win the war of technical excellence.

The standards will also, we hope, be saying more about their various trials. It may not be a core business application but it's a mighty interesting one - one which could affect millions of people in the UK alone, where there are several trials ongoing. Though we emphasise the word 'could'.

Companies such as Endemol (of Big Brother fame) and MTV will be giving mobile TV presentations and there will be a live mobile TV network at the event - DVB-H, the standard favoured by Nokia for the two examples just mentioned, DMB TV used by BT, and we dare say Qualcomm's MediaFLO will get some airtime. (Airtime - geddit?)

Will have a better idea of where this is all going in four days' time.

In the meantime, look out for our daily diary Monday to Thursday this week and check out the latest breaking developments from Barcelona via the silicon.com Newsdesk Blog, which you can fire up from any page on the site, by clicking on the link right under our search box.

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