Trip Report – Around the Mobile World in 31 days

As many of you know, June was a heavier than usual business travel schedule for me as it included 10 airflights, 4 train rides, 6 countries, 3 continents (Asia, Europe and North America), 1 boat ride, 3 speaking engagements, 2 WIP receptions and 2 mini WIPJAM sessions. Whew!

I want to share with you the activities and observations I had along the way - warning this is a long blog.

I started traveling at an early age, so am well aware of how countries and cultures can be different that you expect; and that you certainly can’t paint countries or even cities in a region with the same brush stroke of ‘this is the way they are’. This trip once again confirmed that, and in particular the the developer/mobile industry nuances in different places.  And as always, I’m ruled by my belly, so I also shared some ‘personal’ impressions too!

San Francisco – June 1-4 – Java One
June started off at JavaOne in San Francisco (15,ooo attendees)  for our WIPJAM Session with the Java Verified team at JavaOne. We reported on this is on last newsletter so I won’t repeat. The talk at the show and what continues after are questions of what Oracle will make of SUN and in particular JAVA ME.

ASIA – Shanghai, Singapore
Shanghai - June 8-13
I’ve been lucky enough to participate in Canada’s Investment Champion program, where I am invited to speak about the strength of Canada’s wireless industry at various international events. So that is what brought me to Shanghai. I hadn’t been to China is almost 9 years so was eagerly anticipated the trip (I used to market industrial park space in Fujian province). I spoke at a Canadian Chamber event and had meetings with many of China’s leading companies including China Telecom, Huawei, LeadCore (DaTang), Hanyin (China UnionPay), and others.

Business Impressions: China is promoting 3G in a huge way, now that the licenses have been set, TD-SCDMA the home grown network is ready to go, and the handsets ready; and with the anticipated September launch of China Mobile’s  new developer program and Mobile Market app store based on what’s called OMS (Open Mobile System that is built on Android). It’s a prepaid market, with higher fees than normal, so no surprise that there is a bit of complaining going on from consumers; but I think no different from the Western markets when the smarthphones with high device and plan fees were introduced.  China mobile already claims 1 million 3G subs, adding 100 k every week (400 million total).

So that of course leads to apps, which are in hot demand now to meet the needs of this new network. There is a steady growth of local developers, many with a lot of expertise and arrogance to work this market (reminds me of the US somewhat - ‘it’s so big we don’t need to pay attention to what is happening anywhere else’.) And of course always room in markets for the big brands. Is there room for other smaller developers (language/localization issues aside)? We think so, and are working on a beta project to determine some helpful gateways – stay tuned. If you have some knowledge – please share with the rest of us!

Personal Impressions: The pollution is really sad, as a constant haze is over the city, so the great cityscape is just not as impressive as it used to be, and there are more buildings that my last visit! But China is great for clothes (I had a nice jacket made to measure, see in photo in Cologne below), and of course the food is always so diverse and fantastic (I twittered about an especially interesting meal while there).

Singapore – June 13- 18 – Communicasia and WIP Reception

Mark Nadall (NAVTEQ) and Device winners courtesy of NAVTEQ at the WIP JAM reception in Sinagpore during Communicasia with Caroline

Marc Nadall (NAVTEQ) and Device winners courtesy of NAVTEQ at the WIP JAM reception in Singapore during Communicasia with Caroline

The Singapore leg centered on Communicasia, a place and event I also haven’t been to in over 9 years. I spoke at the Canada Partnering Day, had many meetings, and hosted a WIP reception for mobile developers that was sponsored by NAVTEQ (thanks!). We had over 100 people out, made some great contacts and had a great time. We are gearing up for a full WIP JAM session next year!

Business Impressions: Communicasia was always the event I measured the other big events against; the size; international nature and really cool cool products and especially devices. I was disappointed, in part because CTIA and MWC have really made great strides the last few years; but also the event was trying to be a few too many things to too many people – lots of infrastructure, broadcast as well and a little bit in between. I didn’t feel wowed this time. That being said, it is still an event that stands at the confluence of Asian activities, so a great place to get a flavor for the region and meet lots of great people. I will attend again.

I was pleased to see a new organization announced – the Mobile Alliance of Singapore. As my readers know, I’m a big fan of regional organizations having founded and supported several. They are valuable in that they take both a big picture perspective on their regions (ecosystem and economic development) as well as provide the promotion and events/networking that the local companies need. We look forward to working with them and including them as a WIP partner.

Not just in Singapore, but in the Asian region as a whole, a noticed a much stronger entrepreneurial footing that I recall from 9 years ago. There are more SMEs with real products (lots of eagerness but mostly brochureware previously), and a good understanding of how to build a business – I guess time and experience were needed.

Markets to watch in this area from my impressions and several other ‘expert’ opinions I spoke to are: China and India of course; then Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. Sri Lanka also had good very good reviews, especially in light of the government stabilization.

My prediction: The West has better watch out for the next 18-24 months is going to see a influx of strong competition in the mobile development space coming out of Asia.

We are hosting a WIP JAM Day for Developers (September 16) at the upcoming OSiM event in Amsterdam (15/16). We will make this the biggest open source event for mobile developers – oh yeah! So we undertook a European tour to find the best developers, look for great topic ideas and really good speakers. And by we I mean myself and Thibaut Rouffineau (formerly Symbian), who is taking the lead on this event.

Business Impressions: In general we initially found it hard to nail down where the developer crowds were in these parts of Europe. Then we found some great connectors that led us to many great people and companies. I would encourage these regions to look into the regional clusters/associations to provide some cohesion to these groups.

Amsterdam – June 19-23
We held a pub night and met some great folks . We were really impressed with the creativity and innovation of the crowd here, especially on the media/content side. I anticipate great success for many of these companies. And thanks to Sandra Brandenburg who helped us connect to many others!

Personal Impressions: Nice to be back to cool fresh air after being in Asia. I made a mistake of booking into a lovely apartment right beside a canal AND a fantastic fromagerie (my ultimate weakness). I also enjoyed a lovely concert in a dom in Utrecht with my brother’s inlaws. Amsterdam has got to be one of the easiest cities to get around. Looking forward to being back there in September (yes same apartment booked).

Cologne/Bonn – June 23/24

Caroline Tweeting at the  Medien Forum - photo by Andrew Grill

Caroline Tweeting at the Medien Forum - photo by Andrew Grill

I took a quick train ride to Bonn for a meeting with T Mobile International. The main focus of this leg of the trip was speaking at the Medien Forum, that Mark Wächter so graciously request I speak on APP Stores. It was a lively event, but only 2 hands popped up in the crowd of almost 200 when I asked who was a mobile developer. I think my presentation may have been a bit greek to the crowd. It also nice to finally meet so many fellow Twitters including @jmacdonald @andrewgrill @sarik @ossiu @paulbmma @cellity and @MobileZeitgeist

Here is a copy of my slides from Medien Forum presentation in Cologne on “It’s Raining App Stores – Hallelujah?”

Berlin – June 25-27 – LinuxTag
LinuxTag is without question the geekiest event I have ever attended (JavaOne a far second!). We held a mini WIPJAM there with folks from Open Moko, Mozilla, Enough (J2ME Polish) and others participating. Thanks so much to the Symbian Foundation for sponsoring our participation there. You can read more on this event from Thibaut impressions here.

Personal Impressions: The best Italian food I’ve ever had, both times, has been in Berlin.

Marseille 27-30
Now that was fun! The PACA Mobile Center held their annual Nuit du Mobile, which has grown into the Day and Night of Mobile; with developer events during the day and a reception in the evening. We held a WIP JAM session with about 100 developers in the afternoon on the topics NFC led by Stephane Lebas from SFR, App developments on SIM cards led by Frederic Martinent from Gemalto, revenue generation by Steve Haney of Mobile Distillery and Thibaut and I leading platform choices and App Stores respectively. Check out the WIPwiki forum for all the notes. We also instigated a new Jam format we called the WIPJAM Buzz – a series of 15 minute rapid topics on recent events. Here we raced through JavaOne and asked topics like is Oracle the end of J2ME; the Apple event (iphone 3.0 and Iphone 3GS?) and Google I/O (HTML 5 or Native SDK? And Donuts anyone?)

Business Impressions: A tres vibrant mobile development community in Southern France, and a great cluster of support from the government, centers like PACA, and big companies like Gemalto. Still getting their entrepreneurial feet wet though and still some language barriers – thank goodness there were enough translators for me!

Personal Impressions: Vincent Berge and his team at Mobile Distillery, along with the Provence government are the best hosts. We were treated so well – thanks so much. Of course, the highlight was the boat ride out to Porquerolles for some swimming and sunning, with Captain Berge.

Dinner at Lunch at the Calanque

Dinner at Lunch at the Calanque

Salut to a successful Nuit de Mobile and great friends. R-L  Caroline, Steve Haney, Eric Chan, Vincent Berge, Thibaut Rouffineau

Salut to a successful Nuit de Mobile and great friends. R-L Tim Baker, Caroline, Steve Haney, Eric Chan, Vincent Berge, Thibaut Rouffineau

Eric Chan (Mobile Slate) and Caroline, Tweeting on the Med.

Eric Chan (Mobile Slate) and Caroline, Tweeting on the Med.

It was then off to Paris for a quick dinner with a friend from Alcatel Lucent and a flight back home to Vancouver (still the best place on earth!).  I know I’ve missed alot - but if thank you for sticking it out this far!

Let me know!  I definitely think I should do one of these a year. With the right pace, they actually aren’t as tiring as a week at CTIA or MWC; but the emails sure pile up.

So now its summer! You think it’s time to slow down? Nuh uh – not when we are still having so much fun!

Our BIG announcement is the mini WIPJAM session at the Verizon Developer Community Conference, taking place July 28 in San Jose. Watch this space for more updates, and if you haven’t yet – register now, as it’s filling up fast.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

2 Response to “Trip Report – Around the Mobile World in 31 days”

  1. 1 ARJWright

    This was a hard story to pen into the Carnival this week; but then it kind of worked out when I realized the idea of mobile experiences and memories go along with each other really well. Thanks for submitting this piece, I really enjoyed reading it.

  1. 1 Carnival of Mobilists #182 at WIP Jam Sessions - Connecting Developers

Leave a Reply

Twitter links powered by Tweet This v1.6.1, a WordPress plugin for Twitter.