First Impressions Are Everything
Last week the GSMA’s Mobile Asia Congress was held in Hong Kong, and I was lucky enough to attend. I was not attending the conference on behalf of mobiSights, so we didn’t do any massive news coverage of the event (which explains the lack of articles last week). This was my first time attending the congress, so for those that have not attended one before, I’ll reflect briefly on my impressions.
The 2-day conference was held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center which rests directly on Hong Kong’s waterfront. The conference was rather classy and well-run, overall. Ticket prices were $4000 USD though, so this was to be expected. Check-in was quick and efficient if you had the proper papers, and the staff was pleasant and helpful. If you plan to attend and want to look the part, I suggest packing your standard issue charcoal grey suit. Sporting a blazer and pair of slacks, I was under-dressed.
The exhibition area was rather small. Having heard stories of GSMA’s main conference, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, I had expected the conference to take up a much larger portion than it did. The conference took place on the 3rd and 4th floors, while another technology expo took place on the main floor. The only negative I had was that it was difficult to figure out the layout at first, but once you had your bearings, it was rather simple.
I was pleasantly surprised at the insight that each of the keynotes and panels provided. What I mean by this was that the speakers talked about the industry and refrained from marketing their companies heavily. This is a great relief to someone that is accustomed to being bored to death at traditional Chinese conferences where speakers drone on endlessly about how awesome their company is doing. I’m not saying company propaganda didn’t seep through the cracks, but in whole it was an educational conference. Unfortunately, it was not very well attended. Judging by the seat vacant, I believe GSMA only got half the audience it was hoping for initially. One of the pictures I’ve included below was of the main hall during the first set of speakers on the first day – when the place should have been as full as it was ever going to be during the conference. That said it was a decent crowd, so I don’t think any of the keynote speakers would have been disappointed. The main thing anyway is the press coverage.
The only disappointing thing, from a presenters perspective, was appPlanet, GSMA’s version of a developer focused side-event. The event was meant to be small given the size of the room assigned to the event, but it was only three quarters full at best – maybe 70 people. The presentations were adequate, but I’m sure the presenters wished they were speaking to a larger crowd given the purpose of the event.
Industry News “Take Aways”
Okay, now lets look at some of the bigger news that came out of the event. I’ve linked to GSMA’s news blog if you want further details beyond the talking points.
- Global Mobile Connections will reach 6 Billion by Q1 2012, 3 billion in Asia Pacific.
- Asia is a prime target for mobile-health applications due to the large rural population.
- Mobile health could be a $7 billion industry in Asia-Pacific.
- VISA will launch a SMS banking service targeting emerging markets.
- Facebook expect its next billion users to come from mobile users rather than regular internet.
- China Mobile Expects to have 100 cities covered by their “Wireless City” plan before the end of the year.
- By 2020, Asia Pacific will be the world’s largest market for connected devices with more than 11 billion devices, 5.6 billion of which will be mobile devices.