In Conferences, Nokia World, Travelogue

I’m at the biggest ever event that Nokia has conducted. Over 2700 delegates representing over 100 countries are here at Nokia World 2007 taking place at the RAI Convention centre in the heart of Amsterdam.

A quick disclaimer before I start with the reporting. I’m here on invitation from Nokia in my capacity as podcast host at The Kiruba Show, as the Editor of blognation India and as a longtime blogger. I’d like to play an unbiased role in reporting about the event here. I can see you go “Yeah, right” with a synical smile and that’s totally understandable. Yet, I’m going to try not to suck up and report things as best as I can.

Alright, now on with the show. The first thing that stuck me with the event was that it is billed as “the premier global conference for the mobility and internet industries”. Mobility, I can understand. But Internet? Nokia is absolutely serious about its handsets being the primary access point to the Internet.

It’s already happening here in Europe. A good sampler can be the delegates at this conference. I saw more people using their mobile phone to access the Internet than for making phone calls or sending SMSes. Agreed the Interent access infrastructure is far better here in Europe, but its definitely the way forward. And I definitely see this happening in India.

The classic example are the cameras in mobile phones. They started off as premium attachment but now they have become a standard feature in most mobile phones. So much so that, Nokia is now the biggest manufacturer of digital cameras in the World.

I only hope that the mobile service providers (and there was solid representation of Bharti, Idea..and almost all major players at the event) start ramping up the infrastructure. Infact, I strongly believe that it should be our Government that should take this up as its agenda in earnest. It’s a laughing farce that the Ministry of IT and communications announce 2006 as the Year of Broadband and woefully fall short of their estimated projects. Looking ahead, they have done a downward revision of the target with a modest 20 Million connections by 2010. Bloody hell, we add up around 8 Million new mobile connections per month. Yes, PER MONTH. and we’re well on our way to achieve the 600 million connections on the same year. If the govt officials took their head out of unmentional place, they’d realize that Internet thru mobile is a fantastic opportunity and THE way to go.

Shiv (the Nokia India head) tells me that we have even overtaken China in terms of Nett additions per month. Beating China!! Can you imagine? That’s some serious s#%t.

I guess this is how they say ‘Hello’ in Dutch. The main entrance to the massive rai congrescentrum, the venue for the event. It may look unimpressive here but its a bloody large convention centre.

Here’s Nokia’s VP Anssi Vanjoki, speaking during the first day’s keynote. The photo doesn’t do justice to the massiveness of the hall but its one helluva large hall. Imagine 2700 folks in one hall and more space available for few more.

Anyways, when Nokia’s CEO gave the main keynote, I can’t help but compare it with Apple’s CEO, Steve Job’s keynote. The audience were very uptight and stiff and I could hardly see the kind of passion from the crowd that’d you’d expect from such a landmark event. I expected prolonged 5 minute long standing ovation, crowd growing crazily beserk from some really important announcements. Something that you’d seen either in a Steve Job’s keynote or heck, Steve Ballmer’s speech. Instead, it was a tipid simple clapping.

And boy, those suits. I felt under-dressed in my tshirts and jeans. I probably must be the only guy in causals. Everyone were in suits, even members of the Indian media contingent. The European crowd is so unlike what I’d seen both in India and the US.

A big indication from Nokia is their environemnt responsibility progam that came out as big in the keynote. Nokia is researching on using bio-degradable plastic in mobile phones. They are using the 3110 Evolve as the guine pig. It uses 30 percent recycled materials. Judging by the response, it may be applied to all the phones manufactured by Nokia. Might not sound like a big deal, but they make over 500 million phones and you can imagine how much of plastic gets eventually dumped.

I’m a pro-green guy and this came in as a good move. Hopefully, Nokia will take it more than just a one off measure to show they care about environemnt and really get serious with this initiative.

Nokia will also cut the size of the packaging. Almost by 60%. Apparently, this simple move will save Nokia 100 Million Euros every year in transportation cost alone.

Lots more interesting announcements from Nokia’s biggest event. Will report them later tonight. Now, heading out to my hotel to get ready for a get-together. It’s bone chilling out here with scales dipping to 7 degrees. I’m going to brave the rain and the cold, skip the bus and instead take a long walk to the hotel. More fun roughing it out.