The 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC) and its surrounding events held in Barcelona last week not only assembled the big players of the mobile tech scene, it also gave startups a chance to present their work to an international audience.
With about 72.000 attendees of the mobile industry, including 4.300 CEOs, and 1.700 exhibitors originating from 200 countries the annual event is the world’s largest mobile technology fair. Besides Google’s annual legendary party, it featured a series of conferences, seminars and hackathons organised by leading mobile operators and software companies.
Although TechCrunch and some local startups hosted after-hours events which brought up-and-comping mobile companies into one room, startups were not a priority to the organisers of MWC. Mike Borras co-founder of Austrian startup Tupalo, who attended the congress, told inventures.eu that he would have enjoyed a more organised startup focus, perhaps even a startup village. However, his impressions of the event were overall positive; if not overwhelming.
Austrian startups represent
Over fifty Austrian companies including local heroes such as Runtastic, Finderly (see our story on this cool Vienne startup) and Wikitude attended the exhibition as a part of the Advantage Austria program sponsored by the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO). Meanwhile, Finderly’s Shpock and Romanian Appscend distinguished themselves at TechCrunch’s Mobile Meetup event. Indeed, many startups traveled to Barcelona for two reasons that week. In parallel to the MWC, the city hosted TechCrunch’s Mobile Meetup on February 27, an important event in the startup sphere. Besides networking opportunities, it offered eight companies a chance to meet a panel of experts and potential investors.
Finderly’s Katharina Klausberger on stage with Mike Butcher from TechCrunch. Photo credit: Finderly
Shpock and Appscend (check out our recent story on this Romanian startup wunderkind) were proudly among the happy few that made it to the list of nominees for the Mobile Meetup’s competition this year, with Shpock eventually winning it over other startups from the UK, Greece, Spain, Germany, Finland and USA. “This and the many lovely people we met during the week make the Mobile World Congress 2013 to an unforgettable event for us and our whole team,” Finderly co-founder Katharina Klausberger told inventures.eu.
2013: a year for connected living
So, what are the mobile trends for this year? In addition to big data, mobile payment, mobile cloud and NFC, the hottest topics at the 2013 MWC included open source operating systems -with Firebox OS, Tizen and Ubuntu racing to join iOS and Android as top-3 leaders – as well as smart-car applications. Aimed at improving the everyday day urban life by addressing issues such as finding parking spots and avoiding traffic jam, these apps are growing in popularity with Waze and Streetline respectively winning MWC 2013’s awards for Best Overall Mobile App and Best Mobile Innovation for Smart-Cities.
On the gadget side, leading mobile manufacturers such as Motorola, ZTE or Huawei, introduced numerous flatter, lighter and smaller cells, ultra-smart phablets as well as waterproof and submersible devices for humid climates and clumsy users. Wearable tech was also on everyone’s mind as Google were present with their Glasses, in addition to a few Asian startups competing against Google in this space.
“I think next year MWC will have a heavy wearable tech presence, and with smart glasses leading the way, we’ll finally start seeing solid augmented reality integrations in a more natural application than holding a smartphone in front of your face,” Mike Borras shared his prognosis.
The next Mobile World Congress will be held 24-27 February 2014 at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona.