After four action-packed days, the 2012 Mobile World Congress has come to an end. As CNET puts Barcelona, Spain, and a couple dozen new smartphone announcements in the rearview mirror, we bring you the sights of the wireless and mobile industry's most important mobile trade show.
Barcelona's Fira Montjuic has been the home of Mobile World Congress since it moved from Cannes, France, in 2006. The complex of exhibition halls and courtyards sits between Placa d'Espanya and Montjuic, a large hill with some of the Barcelona's most important sights, including the Joan Miro Museum and the 1992 Olympic stadium. The white telecommunications tower on the right side of Montjuic in the distance was designed by prominent Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Mobile World Congress is so big that it takes over an entire street with temporary pavilions and huge monitors that broadcast keynote addresses from one of the halls. The show is so massive, in fact, that beginning in 2013 it will move to the Fira Gran Via, a new exhibition center closer to the airport that opened late last year. Though the modern facilities will have their appeal, you can't beat the Montjiuc location for character. The Venetian Towers in the distance serve as the show's main entrance from Placa d'Espanya.
A tech reporter's dream come true: a wired Ethernet connection at every seat. Wireless networks at most big speeches and press conferences are crushed by interference and heavy traffic, and that ticks off reporters while messing up Wi-Fi-based demos. HTC's press conference was a breath of fresh air. Next up: power strips, please.
A horde of reporters attended HTC's press conference announcing the HTC One line of Android phones. The event took place in the Arenas de Barcelona, a former bull ring built in 1900 that now houses a shopping center, restaurants, and an auditorium.
Google's Android booth was party central in Hall 8. Always crowded, it had a slide, an Android robot that made smartphone cases, and a bar serving Android-shaped ice cream sandwiches. Above it all, the expressionless eyes of Google's Android mascot had all the warmth of HAL 9000's red oculus.
Mobile World Congress isn't properly called the Android show, but given Google's outsize presence even outside its booth (not to mention Apple's absence), it might as well be. Indeed, Android is everywhere.
An Intel-outfitted Android guy eagerly awaits a bus for the Intel press conference. Intel has been trying to make the point that it's serious about mobile, and, accordingly, about supporting Android. But mobile phones today use ARM-based processors, and a lot of Android apps have components that run natively on those chips, so there's a lot of work to be done moving to Intel.