Archive for the ‘Mobility’ Category

Mobile World Congress Survival Guide (for North Americans): Part II

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Over the next 5 days, Barcelona will transform itself into Mobile World City as 75,000 attendees, some bringing family and friends along, make their way to Mobile World Congress. Are you going to Mobile World Congress for the first time? If you are, the following tips may prove useful. Please read Part I of this series to learn how to prepare and protect your phone.


PART II: TRAVEL & MWC TOURISM

Traveling to Barcelona in winter can cause some snafus. If you have a non-stop flight to Barcelona, this next section won’t impact you as much. But in terms of best practices, it’s probably worth a read. This winter a record number of flights have been delayed or cancelled. If your trip to Barcelona includes a connection, better be prepared.

Bring a Spare

Pack at least one spare outfit in your carry-on bag. The vast majority of Mobile World Congress attendees are checking bags. When winter weather creates travel chaos, the likelihood your bags get lost in the shuffle increases. If your bags don’t arrive when you do, it can take up to 2 days for you to get them back. Some airlines will give you a lost luggage emergency kit that includes toothpaste, a toothbrush, a disposable razor and, if you’re lucky, a t-shirt. It’s better if you have your own clean clothes with you in case you’re waiting 2 days for your suitcase.

Travel Insurance

Traveling to Barcelona through a connection in winter makes travel insurance a good investment. Most policies are going to be less than $50 and you can get it through your airline or possibly your credit card. Some of the online travel agencies also offer travel insurance. If your bags get lost or you’re forced to spend the night at an airport, travel insurance will cover a lot, if not all of your costs.

Shopping

If you your bags are lost, there are two important things to know about shopping for clothes in Barcelona. First, Spanish people seem to be a lot smaller than Americans. If you need L, XL or larger sized clothes, your best bet is a department store. El Corte Inglés in Plaza de Cataluña is a great option.

Second, don’t plan to do any shopping on Sunday. The majority of stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays. McDonald’s is closed on Sundays. You’ll find souvenir shops and some stores in the very touristy areas open, but very little else. Don’t plan to shop on Sunday.

Getting Around

The best way to get around Barcelona is using its fantastic Metro de Barcelona subway system. It is truly the best way to get quickly around the city, and probably the easiest way for you to get from where you’re staying to Mobile World Congress and back. For 10,30€ you can get a T-10 ticket which gives you 10 rides on the Metro. That’s a better option than the 7,60€ one (calendar) day ticket . Every map of Barcelona will indicate the Metro stations with a red diamond symbol.

For point to point transportation, taxis are as available in Barcelona as they are in New York City. Whereas most people in Barcelona who interface with tourists and visitors speak English, it’s a rarer convenience from taxi drivers. It’s best to know the name and address of your destination in Spanish or Catalan, or have it written down to show the driver.

Dining Out

The food in Barcelona is spectacular. Be prepared to see, if not eat, a lot of ham. Spanish cured ham, Jamón ibérico, is omnipresent throughout Barcelona. And so is, of all things, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Early in the morning you can find delivery trucks dropping off sacks of oranges to restaurants, and every restaurant from fine dining to fast food serve fresh-squeezed orange juice, and you’ll see Zumex orange juicers.

Going to Barcelona and not having a ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette is like going to New York City and not having pizza. It’s just something you do. Paella is also a local favorite.

Be aware of the different dining hours. Lunch is typically eaten after 1 p.m. and dinner usually 10 p.m. or later. Many restaurants don’t open for dinner before 9 p.m. Don’t despair if this is too late in the evening for you. There are plenty of tapas bars all around where you can have a light pre-dinner meal. The bottom line, you won’t go hungry. While you’re at Mobile World Congress there are concessions for food, coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine all around the convention center.

The Parties

Networking events (aka parties) are a big part of the Mobile World Congress experience. Many parties start late, but not so late that they’re outside the norm for Barcelona. Some parties will go well past 2 a.m. Some nights out may last to 6 a.m. That happens in Barcelona. But here’s the secret: while Barcelonans may stay out at night to 6 a.m., even for a business gathering, they won’t do that every single night. They also have a secret weapon that is not available to Mobile World Congress attendees: the siesta. Invisible to the people working and walking the floor of Mobile World Congress, from 1:30 to 4:00 Barcelona grinds to a halt. Stores close and people go to a long relaxing lunch. Some may even go home for a nap. Unlike the native Barcelonan, Mobile World Congress attendees feel it is their obligation to party until the wee hours of the morning every single night of the show, and many of these people will find themselves on the show floor by 7:30 a.m. that very same morning. Just watch how the energy level of the show drops precipitously after the first night.

Guard Your Health

You are probably going to parties and late-night gatherings most of the nights you’re at the show, and you should. Just be sure to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated. Find time to rest. Bring some multivitamins along with you, and eat healthy when you can.

TIPS

  • Take an extra outfit with you in your carry-on bag
  • Get travel insurance
  • Know you won’t be shopping on Sunday
  • Use the Metro (subway)
  • Dinner is eaten after 10 p.m.
  • Prepare to have little sleep
  • Guard your health

Mobile World Congress Survival Guide (for North Americans): Part I

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Over the next 5 days, Barcelona will transform itself into Mobile World City as 75,000 attendees, some bringing family and friends along, make their way to Mobile World Congress. Are you going to Mobile World Congress for the first time? If you are, the following tips may prove useful.


With 1700 exhibiting companies from every sector of the mobile and wireless industry from every corner of the globe set atop more than 1 million square feet of exhibition space, Mobile World Congress brings to Barcelona, Spain one the world’s largest collections of pickpockets, scam artists and petty thieves. After all, 75,000 attendees are expected to pour a half-billion dollars into the local economy. With their many dinners out, late-night networking parties and business-oriented pub crawls, tens of thousands of non-Spanish speakers visiting Barcelona the last week of February are very enticing marks.

If you’re a MWC noob, this is but one of the challenges you might have to confront that people like me learned to address the hard way. For fellow mobile industry colleagues making their first trip to Mobile World Congress, this series of tips should help make your first trip to Mobile World Congress not only successful, but easy and fun.

PART I: YOUR PHONE

Before You Go

Sign up for an international roaming plan for voice, messaging and data. Plans are typically sold by the month, and you can buy one just to cover the time you’re in Europe with prepaid minutes, messages and data, and discounted rates for overages.

Install and setup a mobile security app like Lookout, Where’s My Droid or Find My iPhone that lets you track, remotely lock and erase all your personal data.

Before You Turn on Airplane Mode

You’re settled into your seat for the flight to Europe. Before you switch on airplane mode, go into your settings and switch off international roaming. It probably is already off, but just make sure. Once you take your phone back online from airplane mode, if roaming is active your phone may start using data in the background, and you don’t want to incur unnecessary roaming charges.

Get a Local SIM Card

If you can get your hands on an unlocked phone, you can use a local SIM card which will let you have local rates for voice, messaging and data. Maybe you have an older, out of contract smartphone sitting in a drawer somewhere, or you know someone who does. Your carrier should unlock your phone if it’s no longer in-contract. There are also many guides online and services that can help you unlock your phone yourself. Once unlocked, the phone will accept a SIM card from other carriers. Note: your phone has to accept a SIM card, so phones from Verizon and Sprint, unless they are “world phones” probably won’t do you any good.

There are several places around Barcelona where you can buy a prepaid SIM card. I’ve heard you can pick one up inside the Barcelona airport after you land at Crystal Media, a Spanish electronics retailer. Yoigo, Movistar and Vodafone have retail stores located all around the city that all sell prepaid SIM cards, and you can get them at other locations as well. Wherever you go, and this is important, YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT WITH YOU. No other form of identification will be accepted, and ID is required to get a SIM card. Bring your passport.

Of course, now you’ll have a phone number that is local to Barcelona. Remember it, and socialize it with colleagues and friends.

Use VoIP

If you have a premium Skype account, you can place free calls over Wi-Fi to mobile and landlines back in the U.S. and Canada. You can use other VoIP apps, but most require the person you’re calling to also have the app. So plan ahead.

Keep it in Your Pocket

There will be scores, if not hundreds, of brand new, top of the line smartphones on display at Mobile World Congress; yours doesn’t have to be one of them. Never, ever, ever leave your phone out in the open, such as putting it on a table at a restaurant. You may be in the middle of a texting conversation where texts are coming every 10 seconds. The temptation will be to just leave the phone in front of you to be able to quickly respond to each text. DO NOT DO IT! Never, ever, ever put your phone on the table at a restaurant. If you finish this article and only learn one thing, let this be it this: NEVER, EVER, EVER put your phone on the table at a restaurant.

Let’s pretend this is a hypothetical scenario I made up to illustrate my point: Say you’re at a tapas bar waiting for a friend who is at this very moment on her way to meet you at said tapas bar. While texting back and forth, you leave the phone on top of the table. But it’s cool, it’s in your hand, so what could go wrong. Suddenly two “deaf” men walk into the restaurant begging customers for money. Because “they can’t hear” you, and even if they could, they probably don’t speak English, they have signs that explain why they need your money. They come to you in pairs. One stands and makes a fuss while the other comes over to you and puts the grungy sign down on your plate. ON THE VERY PLATE YOU’RE USING FOR YOUR FOOD.

It’s horrible and you’re disgusted. You know these people are just scamming you for money, and you won’t give them any. Soon the waiter comes and shoos them out the door. The problem is, they were not scamming you for money. They wanted that phone you just had a second ago on the table. In all the commotion, you didn’t realize the phone was no longer in your hand. Where did it go? Under that grungy sign. And when the waiter came to shoo them away, the man with the sign grabbed it off the table, skillfully grabbing your phone along with it.

Never, ever, ever put the phone on a table in a restaurant.

But let’s say you forgot this important rule, and your phone was stolen. What do you do next? The first thing you do, and do it as quickly as you can, is contact your home carrier and cancel the phone. Kill that phone as quickly as possible. If you got one of the mobile security apps I mentioned earlier, you can remote wipe it from your PC, so get to your PC and remote wipe it as soon as possible. Every second you delay is another second your phone is calling North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the International Space Station, any place where it’s expensive to call. And who knows what will happen to your pictures and private data.

TIPS

  • Get an international roaming plan
  • Make sure the international roaming setting is turned off before you land in Europe to avoid unnecessary data charges
  • Find an unlocked phone and get a local SIM card
  • Use VoIP for free calls to back home
  • Keep your phone in your pocket

CTIA 2013 Wrap-up – MoPR Edition

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

This year marked the last “Spring CTIA” show; after the “Fall CTIA” Mobilecon event in San Jose, next year CTIA will join forces with IFA, 4G World and other showcases for a brand new megashow called Super Mobility Week.  MoPR’s Jessi McKain, Ayan Jama and John Sidline flew down to be a part of the mobility excitement in Sin City and attend the last-ever CTIA Mobile Marketplace event .  Keep reading for personal opinions on the show, a recap of some news at CTIA and some priceless photos!

The scorching heat, free key chains and bottle openers, tired feet, dinners with old and new colleagues and friends and of course lots of mobile – another successful CTIA in Vegas just ended. In the ever-evolving industry of mobile the last CTIA marked the dawn of a new era.

Jessi McKain and Ayan Jama weighed in on what they thought of the final spring CTIA.  The show was much more accessory centric than expected with various iPhone cases and audio attachments around almost every corner. As with past CTIAs, this show floor was laid out with purpose.  Sectioned off into four main categories, Retail Zone, E-Tech Zone, Wireless Innovations from Around the Globe and Featured Technology Innovations, the main sections of the show floor housed a total of 32 specific zones or pavilions. From talking robots, to people playing corn hole to live snakes in cages, CTIA had it all. The clear categorization allowed for easy navigating through the exhibit floor, which easily allowed you to see booths you were interested in.

“My favorite thing I saw at CTIA was mobile devices mounted to talking robots. While the design was very simplistic and the robots clearly could not comprehend everything you were saying, the technology was very exciting and showed me that personal robotics might be closer than we think,” says Jessi when reflecting on her time at CTIA.

John Sidline, CEO of Mobility PR, noted new carrier business models taking shape at CTIA, “With talk of 5G now gaining momentum, and an explosion in connected devices and associated apps, we all need the carriers to make a profit large enough to continue evolving their networks. Network operators are now looking at monetizing all the new devices that will connect to a network, and chief among these devices will be your car.”

John thought the M2M and “Internet of Things” exhibits were among the most exciting he saw. “While there wasn’t as much buzz coming out of this CTIA as from shows in years past, what’s clear is that there’s another wave of mobile coming, and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.  But what we can see of this emerging Internet of Things category today is already very exciting,” commented John.

Along with MoPR team members’ highlights and insights, we were sure to follow some of our favorite publications while they kept us up to date at CTIA. The 8th annual Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Award winners were announced in Las Vegas, hosted by CNBC Technology Correspondent Jon Fortt.  The E-Tech Awards celebrate and promote some of the most innovate wireless products and services in the consumer market. The products and services were judged based on innovation, functionality, technological importance, implementation and overall “wow” factor. Redline Communications, was a finalist in the E-Tech Awards Network Infrastructure- Wide Area Network category for its Universal Wireless Transport. Redline Communications shared this distinction with other finalists including Nokia Siemens Networks and Tektronix.

A big winner of this year’s E-Tech awards was Samsung for its consumer mobile devices, while Verizon received “Best in Show” for Verizon Messages. Samsung also won first place for the Connected Lifestyle category for the Galaxy Camera.

There were a total of 15 categories including enterprise solutions, mobile apps, mobile hardware, and network infrastructure. We have listed three of our favorite categories along with the first, second and third place winners. Click here to view the complete list of award-winners.

Mobile Apps– Content, Social, Media & Entertainment

  1. NTT DOCOMO, INC., Hanashite Hon’yaku (World’s first automatic voice translation service); 2. Harman International, Aha by Harman; 3. AT&T, Inc., AT&T U-verse Easy Remote

Mobile CE– Connected Lifestyle

  1. Samsung Telecommunications America, Samsung Galaxy Camera; 2. AT&T, AT&T Digital Life; 3. BodyMedia, BodyMedia CORE 2

Enterprise Solution – Mobile Cloud

  1. LogMeIn, Cubby; 2. Canvas, Inc., MyCanvas; 3. Averail, Averail Access

Along with the E-Tech Awards at CTIA, there were tons of new and innovative eye-catching technologies unveiled this year and new start-ups that made an appearance at the conference! New products included connected devices, problem solutions and fun accessories for your devices.

MoPR client Kimera Systems unveiled its innovative new technology at CTIA this year, Nigel, the first human-like intelligence service for mobile. Unlike traditional context-aware services, Nigel’s intelligence increases dramatically with user interaction. Kimera envisions a world where all your devices could think like you and act on your behalf, with Kimera’s human-like artificial intelligence technology, they can. With the increased use of Nigel on your smartphone, your connected device will soon enough automatically display a personalized restaurant menu when you walk into a restaurant, wake you up earlier because of a freeway closure and will learn and understand its user’s personal needs and deliver value. Kimera Systems was selected from hundreds of early start-up companies to speak at the Innovation Showcase which was held during CTIA.  CEO Mounir Shita spoke at CTIA in the Innovation Showcase which stirred up quite a buzz and brought a consistent rush of visitors to the Kimera booth in the Telecom Council’s

Other companies we found of interest at CTIA included, but were certainly not limited to:

Kevo presented its electronic door lock, which replaces your regular key with a Bluetooth enabled smartphone and an app. This allows the user to press their finger against the door lock rather than insert a key to gain entry into their home. There is a lot of buzz going around on the internet but CTIA was the first time anyone had seen the gadget in the flesh! Don’t believe us? Check out the demonstration video.

Ericsson demonstrated its smart windows concept. One demonstration involved an embedded cellular antenna inside a glass window to increase cell phone reception inside buildings, homes or trains. In another demonstration, Ericsson had was a window set up with built-in sensors so a user could tap and swipe the glass just as they would the screen of a connected device; this enabled the glass to turn into a remote control unit for the connected home- turning on lights, increasing the air conditioning and turning down the volume of music.

Damson presented its concert-like experience Bluetooth speakers at CTIA. Damson Audio Pearl speakers may be small in stature, but these wireless rubber speakers might make you think you’re at a concert. The Pearl uses unique down-firing woofers in order to echo sound off of tables or other surfaces to produce a loud and clear volume for its small size. The Pearl consists of two separate units, one handles left channels and the other right channels, for wireless stereo, the product can also be used as a speakerphone when it is connected to mobile devices.

TechRadar provided its readers with their top five moments while at CTIA.  Just like many others who attended CTIA this year, TechRadar mentioned the lack of new tech unveiled at the conference, but like any good tech conference there are always a few products or shocking moments that stick out among the rest. Check out TechRadar’s highlights from CTIA:

1.       HTC comes clean on microSD issue

Pictures of the Japanese and Chinese versions of the HTC one surfaced, both of which were sporting a removable back and microSD slot.  A representation from the Taiwanese manufacturer explained why the U.S. version of HTC is lacking the microSD; essentially it came down to extra space available in Japan and China’s version of the smartphone.

Why no HTC one on Verizon, microSD for U.S. and UK? HTC explains.

2.       Ashton Kutcher gives a surprisingly good fireside chat

The presence of Ashton Kutcher added a little something to the conference that CTIA needed. With the lack of new product announcements with fireside chat with the tech investment mogul provided some much needed entertainment.

Ashton Kutcher on the trouble with Twitter, Facebook as the ‘new religion’

3.       Hands on with the Lumia 928

TechRadar was able to get some much needed hands-on time with the latest Windows Phone 8 device from Nokia, the Lumia 928. Only available on Verizon, the Lumia 928 is only available in black and white. This is quite a change for Nokia, who usually sells its Lumia devices in every color of the rainbow.

Hands on: Lumia 928 review

4.       Viva Movil: too niche or totally needed?

Another star set to the stage at this year’s CTIA, Jennifer Lopez made an appearance as a keynote speaker announcing that the she was partnering up with carrier, Verizon Wireless with Viva Movil. Viva Movil is a mobile retail chain aimed specifically at Latinos, catering to the specific needs of first, second and third generations Latinos.

Read more about Jennifer Lopez at CTIA and Viva Movil

5.       Rugged and cheap phones rule the showRugged phones that can endear a face dive to concrete or a water submersion seemed to be a popular theme at CTIA.  TechRadar first saw the Cat B15, not a top of the line device but can handle a rough day and survive even the worst face plant to the sidewalk. Also introduced at CTIA were the Kyocero Hydro Edge and Hydro XTRM, shock absorbent and water proof handsets.

Hands on: Cat B15 review

CTIA has come a long way. To compare “then” to “now,” check out this post from a MoPR trip to CTIA in 2006! We would love to hear your stories from Sin City about the last-ever spring CTIA. What innovative technologies stood out to you?  What industry trends did you notice? Did you go to the Ice-Bar to escape the scorching Las Vegas sun?  Tell us about your CTIA experience