It's easy to start business articles on Barcelona with stereotypes such as "Barcelona is everybody's favorite city for a vacation," "the city of good weather, tasty food, and warm beaches," or even, "Barcelona is more well-known for its night-life and quality of life than for its business."
Let's face it, most of these assumptions are true. Bureaucracy and taxes for new businesses are overkill, there's not enough culture of risk, public administration is slow and still anchored in the old-school mindset, investors rarely ever commit to non-copycat projects, locals are still not confident enough to communicate in English, and the Catalans rarely seek to expand their business outside of the national barriers. But Barcelona definitely does do some things like no other can. One of them being the Mobile World Congress.
[caption id="attachment_75938" align="alignleft" width="300"] Barcelona[/caption]
The GSMA Mobile World Congress was held in Cannes (France), year after year, until 2006. That year, Barcelona hosted it for the first time. In 2011, Barcelona was elected as the Mobile World Capital of the world and signed a collaboration contract that will keep the event in the Catalan capital until 2018. Last year the event peaked in attendance. Mobile World Congress 2014 edition garnered +85,000 attendees from 200 different countries. These numbers mark an all-time high for the congress and confirm that despite the economic crisis, the big players of the mobile sector are still on the move for innovation and the creation of new business strategies.
The event is a turning point in the digital & mobile sectors. Companies release new products, announce acquisitions or changes of strategy, showcase prototypes for future projects, and reveal new trends through the high-quality keynotes provided by the most influential speakers on the scene. As a proof of that, last year Facebook detailed the acquisition of Whatsapp for 19B$ during MWC, where both Mark Zuckerberg and Jan Koum attended as featured speakers. That edition also saw other highlights such as Samsung presenting three new wearable devices along with the long-awaited Samsung S5, Nokia presenting their first Android-powered phones, the Fitbit challenge - that made sure everybody's steps were counted - and other ground-breaking topics such as innovation on IoT and Beacons.
In all truth, Barcelona being elected as Mobile World Capital has a good set of reasons. If previously we listed many a good reason not to bring your business to the city of Gaudi, now it's time to give the credit it deserves.
Barcelona has been an early adopter of best practices in the field of renewable energies and smart cities. Recently, the city has been awarded as the Capital of Innovation by the European Commission, and is doing very well in the global rankings, according to the BCN Smart City project website.
Bicing, a bike-sharing system with 6000 bikes and 420 stations spread across the city, pay-as-you-go apps for street parking backed by the Barcelona City Council, road paint that absorbs contamination, intelligent street lightning systems, highly adapted buildings for seniors, free WIFI on main streets, and tourist attractions (and the beach!), and other ground-breaking technologies are only a few examples of why Barcelona is leading the way for others to become a Smart City.
Moreover, if you're coming to MWC, make sure you join Entrepreneur Host Entrepreneur - organized by AirBnB - to help everyone find accommodation in the middle of this business maelstrom that will see hotels raise their prices.
The ecosystem is more than right to provide an excellent understanding of the current mobile trends and what is to come. In fact, this year's edition will see new devices by Samsung and HTC, and other announcements by Qualcomm, Microsoft, and LG of an undisclosed nature.
However, the best part of Mobile World Congress is the ability to surprise their attendees with the unexpected, so we are better off reporting what is happening rather than trying to predict the unpredictable.
Stay tuned for more updates!