Who am I to judge? Mobile World Congress cancelled

Mobile World Congress Barcelona has been cancelled and this is sad, I like the cut of some of the gibs of people complaining that it shouldn’t have been cancelled though. Can you imagine the pearl-clutching-sanctimonious- shrieking if they’d gone ahead and a technology journalist caught a cold? However, as with all clouds there is a silver lining, it has provided me with a perfect opportunity to link a current event with something I did years ago and, as they say, repurpose it.

Believe it or not, I was a judge for the GSMA Global Mobile Awards Most Innovative Mobile App at Mobile World Congress a few years back. Which is easier done than said. The panel was made up of some incredible names, Cherie Blair, yes that one – some other famous people, very high-profile technology journalists and, err, me – they CC’d everyone into the first email so I got some good contacts too.

For the small price of judging apps and mobile related stuff across a small number of entries, about 20,000 if I recall correctly, I got a pass to the show and access to the executive lounge.

There was free Wi-Fi in the lounge and free soft drinks – though I spent most of my time in the press lounge where there were no free drinks, I did have the Wi-Fi password though, so was basically treated as a demi-god. This being one of the world’s premier digital shows they’d put the Wi-Fi access code on the back of the Presss Room sign and then on realising they’d put an extra ‘s’ in Press, taken the sign down and along with it the code. I may be misremembering the fact, but the gist is there.

I attended launches by Huawei, Polycom, China Unicorn Unicom, Rovi, Otterbox, Sandisk and Nokia – lolz remember them? The Sandisk PR man had a nightmare as I nonchalantly asked the spokesperson they’d proffered up as a flash-based hard drive expert what he thought of Apple’s flash storage solutions, it was as if I had uncovered the scabby wound of a chip on his shoulder and dabbed it with a salt solution. Sufficed to say, he wasn’t happy I’d asked what their product was like compared to someone else’s. I’d put the shrug emoji in here if I knew how. PR guy winced when I asked and then again at the answer, joke was on them though as I had zero chance of writing anything about flash-based hard drive storage with any of the magazines I was writing for. Well, that’s not strictly true in that it’s not true at all, but it makes me feel better to think that.

Best launch of all though was the Nokia one – I can’t remember exactly why, but they launched a phone not intended for the European market and then got flustered by the first question from the assembled journalists which was something along the lines of “why are you showing us this?” Then they launched something I feel sure with the Symbian OS. I think there was whooping from the crowd at that point, I may have been hallucinating because of the Symbian bit, but feel sure there was. I also got invited to Nokia-World or whatever it was called, that took place in Finland so I was excited about that at least. Sadly, this was just about the same time they discovered the platform fire and they never did quite put it out so Finland got filleted.

Anyway, the award for which I was a judge went to SwiftKey one of those Swyping keyboard things that were all the rage on smartphones before they all got Sherlocked (look it up kids). There was a lavish awards ceremony followed by a party, but I got lost, ended up at the wrong event and never did get to celebrate with Cherie Blair or Tim Minchin. However, this personal mishap did lead me to partake in what I can only describe as one of my finest culinary achievements as a freelance journalist.

The glitz and glamour of a press trip can never be adequated illustrated, but here is my evening meal of crisps, warm beer and a tin of olives.

Hopefully, MWC will return, I mean, I don’t really mind either way now that I’m not likely to return to the hard life of fulltime tech journalism, but it was a fun one in a beautiful city where tins of olives and warm beer are readily available and pickpockets and price gouging taxi drivers do it with a smile on their face.