Two years ago while I was working at dotMobi, I was one of the programmers working on the DeviceAtlas project, which launched at Mobile World Congress 2008. At the time, it was the largest launch I’d been involved in and it was quite a ride towards the end – when you’re launching to 60,000 people at the largest trade show in the world for your industry, the pressure is enormous.
So when Suura undertook to demo at this year’s Mobile World Congress, I knew we were in for a major project with a high workload. Or at least I thought I did, but if anything, I underestimated how much pressure there is for a small startup at this event. I’d like to say everything got done in normal business hours without stress, but I think everyone who’s ever even attended — let alone exhibited at — MWC would call me a liar! Not least of whom would be the me who found himself working away at some exceptionally unsocial hours during the lead-up to the event…
However, as in 2008, we learnt a lot in a short space of time, got an enormous amount done against rather high odds, and managed to get to Barcelona on time (and, as in 2008, we then slept for a week 😀 ).
For anyone who’s not seen MWC in action, it’s rather hard to describe. For a start, it’s big. Big as in sixty thousand people all walking, talking and working in eight halls (most of which are much larger than most aircraft hangers) spread over FIRA, a campus that’s larger than the entire Trinity College campus (FIRA is 250,000 m2 while TCD is only 190,000m2):
It’s absolutely enormous, especially when you’re the first one of the team to arrive to set up and you’ve never been there yourself and you speak less Spanish than you’d hear in The Three Amigos. Plus, when you’re there to work (and you’re shepherding a server packed into a 23kg Peli case on wheels everywhere you go), there’s precious little time to attend the conference talks (which is a shame, I really missed not hearing the appstore announcements in person).
There are, however, compensations. For example, I got there on Sunday night, before the official opening. As much fun as it is to walk around the show when it’s going, you’ve missed out on the magic trick that is the construction of the show. Everyone’s seen the polished looking stands, but how many get to see what they look like the night before, when the entire place resembles a combination of a carpentry shop, a welding competition and a wall painting masterclass all taking place simultaneously during a human stampede. “Chaos” doesn’t do it justice. I only wish my e71 had a better camera – out of a dozen or so photos taken that night as I spent a few minutes wandering around getting my bearings, only this one came out and it’s the calmest of the lot.
Seeing the place transform from that to this in one night, that was something special: