Next year at Mobile World Congress, skip the press conference and send us an e-mail instead.
Kent GermanFormer senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
As at many a convention, press conferences are a staple of Mobile World Congress (MWC). Tens of companies have them, but Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft and Sony Ericsson tend to make the biggest push. And now that I've been to three shows in Barcelona, I have to lodge a couple of complaints. I don't think I'm being overly fussy here--really, I'm actually pretty easy to please (see last paragraph)--but I do have some advice for my friends in Korea, Finland, and London.
I may be in the minority here, but I'm at a press event to work. I'm there to get in, get the news and get out because I have a story to file. A bar is nice and food is welcome, but I don't need either. Skip the chitchat and the fluff and let's get on with the program. Samsung, for instance, had quite the shebang to open its event for the Samsung Wave. Yes, it was entertaining, but we're there to hear an announcement and not to see dancing bears, flying females, or whatever you throw at us. As Bonnie Cha said, we don't even want to know how much Sammy dropped on that event, given that it could have just issued a press release and called it a day.
Still, I understand that some companies like the spotlight. So if you do hold a press release event, there are a few things to remember--and I know that I'm not alone with these sentiments. First off, your product, and not the location in which you show it, is the star of the show. A location can be an accessory of sorts, but when it becomes inconvenient or ill-suited to the event then I don't care how fashionable or posh it is.
Sony Ericsson in particular likes to hold its MWC event at a "trendy" locale far from the Fira de Barcelona where MWC takes place. This year it was a nightclub on the beach; last year it was at another nightclub in the far end of the city's Eixample neighborhood; and two years ago it was a bizarre art studio that I'm convinced was somewhere in France. Microsoft gets it right when it holds its press events across the street from the Fira. Please don't make us take two metro lines, a taxi, and then a 20-minute walk through a questionable neighborhood to get there.
On a similar note, though I'm sure that Sony Ericsson's chosen locations are perfectly fine as nightclubs and studios, they don't work as places to make a press announcement. They're cramped, strangely laid out (that 2008 studio was a maze of rooms off a central corridor) and the lighting is terrible. Remember that we'll want to take photos of the phones that you unveil, so please give us the light we need to do so. On the upside, at least we got chairs this year. It's really hard to stand, blog on your laptop, and take photos of the event speakers.
Seriously, folks, you could hold your event in a tent and I would be there. It's my job to attend, so if the tent has enough room, the Internet works, we have a place to sit, and press check-in isn't complete chaos (I'm talking to you, Nokia) then I'll be a happy camper. But even better, just do what Moto did and send us an e-mail with your announcements. You know we'll cover your news anyway, so let's just save each other time.