Barcelona: Mobile World Capital

JAN 15,2013 - JAN 31,2013 (17 DAYS)


The world is going mobile, but some cities are responding to the movement better than others!

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Nowadays we all travel with our smartphones, and it’s not uncommon to see a fellow traveller, tourist, or backpacker glancing at their smartphones from time to time as they walk through the busy streets of a foreign land. Of course, some cities haven’t just embraced the mobile movement; others have shifted with the times and become mobile utopias where smartphones aren’t just a tool, but a key to enjoying the city and unlocking its full potential.

There are cities like London, which mobile users can enjoy thanks to the many apps that have been designed for the city, including bus and train schedules, integrated TripAdvisor guides, and community-run city guide apps. Elsewhere in the world, particularly in Asia, people are embracing social technology and uploading information about their lives to social networks at rates never before seen. But some countries and cities continue to stand out.

Barcelona, Spain has been declared the Mobile World Capital by the GSMA for 2012-2018. “Becoming the Mobile World Capital was a strategic bid for Barcelona, and consolidates our leadership as a benchmark city for new technologies,” said Xavier Trias, Mayor of Barcelona. The city competed with others from all over the world for the title, but ultimately it prevailed because of the local administration’s efforts to spread mobile connectivity throughout the city. Three years later, and we still see the effects that winning the title has had on Barcelona. Other than playing host to this year’s Mobile World Congress, everyday life in Barcelona has also been drastically improved.

Winning the title of Mobile World Capital also meant playing host to the Mobile World Centre, a shrine dedicated to the latest mobile technology. Located in downtown Barcelona, the Mobile World Centre houses both permanent and temporary exhibits that showcase the evolution of mobile technology. There are also several different events being hosted in the Centre, all open to the public, free of charge, from Monday to Saturday. The programs held at the Centre range from basic computer classes to app features, with some even teaching others how to make the most of their mobile phones.

The ground floor of the Mobile World Centre features the “Espacio Motivar”, a commercial area that not only presents the latest in services to the public, but also showcases technological advances made by Telefónica, the largest operator in Spain and owners of O2 in Europe. The first floor features various exhibits set up to give visitors a walking tour of the evolution of mobile technology, and what changes have come about thanks to mobile development. Dubbed “mWorld”, this exhibition space is divided into four interactive areas: mHistory, mWorld Speed, mWorld Definition, and mWorld Experience.

Barcelona also plays host to the Mobile World Festival, an annual event that sees thousands come together for sporting events, live musical shows, film awards, and application and technology features. Let’s not forget the Mobile World Congress (MWC) itself, which the largest technological companies from all over the world attend annually. The MWC has, for the past few years, been the event to watch out for, as huge mobile brands come together to launch their latest gadgets and offerings to the public.

Barcelona has continued its quest to become a truly mobile-integrated city. With apps like Pinger, which allow for free domestic and international calls from Spain, now on the market, there’s no denying that Barcelona is deserving of its title as the Mobile World Capital, and other cities need to step up to plate if they wish to steal the title from the city in 2018.

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