It's been two weeks since I returned from the GSMA World Congress, but memories of the event are still fresh in my mind. As the largest cell phone trade show in the world, GSMA had enough to keep Bonnie and I occupied. But like this year's CES, the show wasn't quite as insane as it was in 2009.
Though the exhibits were just as elaborate, and the show grounds were just as massive, both shows were quieter on a couple of levels. First off, there were noticeably fewer people in attendance. At CES, for example, it was possible to walk out of the Las Vegas Convention Center and get a taxi without waiting (a miracle, believe me). What's more, you could almost go bowling down some aisles on the convention floor and not have to worry about hitting any attendees.
At GSMA, the change was visible in more subtle ways. There were still plenty of people milling about the Fira de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, but lines at food stands were shorter, and you could get hotel rooms for a decent price just a couple of weeks before the show started., I tried to book five months before the show began and could not find an available hotel room.
But more importantly, there were simply less news to cover at both shows. Instead of unveiling a gallery of new phones, manufacturers introduced just a few. For instance, while at last year's GSMA, Sony Ericsson showed
The economy, of course, is big factor behind the changes. But I have to wonder again if trade shows are fundamentally changing. Instead of using them as platforms to launch new products, companies are instead just showing up to make connections, drum up new business, and show their existing wares. Over the last few years, I've watched the number of new products at CES, GSMA, and CTIA drop slowly but steadily. We still end up writing just as much copy, but single products, rather than a family of products, are starting to dominate the events. The 2009 CES, of course, saw the unveiling of the Palm Pre, and GSMA gave us the .
As we head back to Las Vegas for CTIA in three short weeks, I'm a bit apprehensive how it while play out.