As I walked through Barcelona airport this morning, my mind was jostled by sights and sounds remembered from my previous visits here. I’m in town to attend the annual Mobile World Congress trade show. (The show used to be called “3GSM”, and before that, “GSM World”.)
I’ve been attending this show every year since 2002. From 2002-05 it was held at Cannes, in France, in increasingly cramped circumstances – as the mobile industry grew and grew and grew. Since 2006 it has taken place 300 miles south west along the Mediterranean coast in Barcelona. So today marks my fourth annual visit to Barcelona airport.
As I walked through the airport, I found myself remembering:
- that was the place where on my first visit, I had walked out of the wrong exit, and needed to go back in through a lengthy security screening process again before I could pick up my luggage;
- that was the place where, another year, I had queued up to report that my luggage was missing (happily, it was delivered to my hotel by first thing the following morning);
- that was the coffee shop where I had relaxed with some colleagues before going to the gate on the way home one year;
- that was the restaurant where I had eaten a meal with a slightly different set of colleagues a different year, while awaiting news of delayed departure times; and so on.
The place is full of memories. But there’s a big difference this year. The remembrances of similarity mask underlying transitions.
For example, I’ll be spending a lot of my time over the next few days at the same hospitality suite as in previous years – AV91 on the main Fira avenue – but the suite has a very different feel this year. Here’s a picture of the outside of the suite, taken earlier today:
As you can see, the suite was still under construction – but some elements of the emerging Symbian Foundation branding are visible. The “friendly spaceman” has a side panel all to himself:
Other Symbian Foundation doodle characters are also visible: the inspired toaster, and so on. (No, these names aren’t official…)
Again, I’ll also be spending time at the same stand location as before – 8A77, in Hall 8 – but, again, the feel has changed:
What’s more, many of the colleagues who came with me to previous Mobile World Congress events, aren’t attending this year. The other members of the Symbian Leadership Team are primarily engaged these days in important internal integration projects inside Nokia, and have no reason to travel to Barcelona this year. So I’ll be sharing my duties – meeting press, analysts, bloggers, partners, and potential new members of the Symbian Foundation community – with a new set of Leadership Team colleagues – the members of the emerging Symbian Foundation Leadership Team.
Finally, the emphasis of these meetings will be less on the number of phones shipped, and more on the growing vibrancy and productivity of the Symbian Foundation community. After all, we can only aspire to provide the most widely used software on the planet if, along the way, we grow the most productive and valuable software movement on the planet.
Footnote: Another visible difference, from last year, is that the number of large advertising hoardings scattered all over the city seems significantly less this year.