Talk of higher bit rate was rare at Mobile World Congress. Instead, the focus was on the user experience. It's about time.
The Mobile World Congress is typically dominated by talk of next generation air interfaces. But this year air interfaces have taken a back seat. Instead, chip vendors, handset manufacturers, and software makers all seem to be obsessing over the "user experience"
A major catalyst for this shift is the iPhone. The iPhone's success clearly has nothing to do with its air interface—it isn't even 3G (at least not yet). Instead, its success is due to its user interface and clever apps—or so concluded members of the bluntly titled panel discussion, It's the User Experience, Stupid.
Of course, the iPhone isn't the only game in town. MWC saw a flurry of announcements surrounding Google's open source Android OS. There were even a few Android powered phones, such as TI's phone running Android on a 500 MHz OMAP 3430 chipset. If Google can get Android into enough phones, it will spur much needed innovation in the mobile application space and improve the user experience across a wide range phones.
Personally, I think the focus on user experience is long overdue. Even when phones were simpler the user experience left something to be desired. My Razr comes to mind. Its user interface is terrible—checking my inbox takes five button pushed, for example. As phones absorb all the functionality of PCs, problems like will only get more difficult. By focusing on the user experience now hopefully the future will see more iPhones and fewer Razrs.