Since I moved to Mountain View a couple of months ago, Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2013 was the first major event that I could attend. Schools have a tendency to keep you busy and Carnegie Mellon is no slouch in this matter. I worked my way around the schedule to attend this event and know more about the latest trends and updates from the mobile industry.
There were a large number of application and game developers at the conference along with some of the giants of the industry. Individually, I could not attend the all the panels and discussions, but from the ones I could, I found a distinct theme across theme all. Go mobile. At a time when mobile platforms are reaching the state of saturation, the mood at the conference was quite upbeat. Read on to know more.
While there were several panel discussions concurrently going on at the venue, I was able to make it to some of the biggest ones. While the topics for discussion ranged from the effect of social mobile on web-based social networks to enterprise mobile, all technology giants are giving primary importance to developing mobile solutions.
The reason? Near saturation levels of smartphone penetration in the developed countries while a huge market of potential users is available in the developing countries. Users who may reach the internet exclusively through mobile, which makes the presence of all companies on mobile platforms crucial.
An executive from several companies like SAP, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Qualcomm were joined by senior executives and founders from several Asian companies like Xiaomi, Maxthon, Line and UCweb. All of them talked about the importance of mobile, especially when it comes to expanding their presence in the developing markets.
The conference boasted several tracks like m-education, m-health and m-next (the next big thing in mobile.) The m-education track that I attended had several high-profile speakers from the education sector talking about the impact of mobile on education in coming years and how the industry needs to adapt to the changes.
The keynote speaker was Andrew Ag, the founder of Coursera, an organization with the aim to offer free online education to all. It was interesting to get a global perspective to the education sector. While Muhammed Chaudhry, President, and CEO of Silicon Valley Education Foundation, gave an insight into the problems right here in the valley, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, CEO of Fora gave an idea about the challenges facing the education sector in African countries.
Several more speakers from various sections of the education sector highlighted the trends and challenges in the sector, making up for a very informative session at the m-education track. I only wish I could have been able to attend m-next and m-marketing tracks as well.
Talking of marketing, the expo had several booths from companies that offered solutions to application developers to market their apps and reach a wider audience. Marketing and analytics were the key focus areas of the services present at the expo. Some other focused on providing user verification and security services, but most of the expo booths were set up by studios or individual developers.
I was slightly surprised by the presence of Amazon and Microsoft at the expo. But it is understandable given the release of Surface 2 just a night ago. I checked out the device at the expo, and it seemed awesome, but a more thorough review is in order here. Amazon was there recruiting as well as marketing the yet-to-be-released Kindle 8.9 HDX, expected next month. Light, fast and with a pixel density of 339 PPI, it would be interesting to see how it fares against the recently announced iPad Air.
The Rise of Chinese Digital Applications Industry
I noticed a distinct presence of several big and upcoming companies from China who are trying to make a foray into the US and European markets. The leading cloud browser Maxthon, which we have reviewed once or twice before, had a prominent presence at the expo. They told me that they are looking to increase their market reach in western markets and putting in ‘significant’ marketing effort for doing so. Their presence at GMIC 2013 was a part of this plan.
UCweb, a browser for mobile which has evolved into a platform that provided services for third-party applications, was one of the main sponsors of GMIC. They also had a presentation the emphasized the rise of a new ecosystem for mobile internet called ‘Super app + Light app,’ demonstrated by their own ecosystem.
Already the No.1 browser in Asia, they are interested in the US as they look for ‘increased market share as well as talented developers to join them as well as improve the UCweb ecosystem.’
A significant factor here was the presence of the representative from some Chinese venture capital firms who wanted to invest in studios and developers. A definite positive for the devs!
The Game and Application Developers
As I mentioned earlier, there were several game and application developers as well as studios at the expo. A lot of these were participants in the competitions held at the GMIC, the results of which are stated under ‘the winners’ section.
As an avid Android user, it pained me (just a teeny-weeny bit) to observe that almost all the applications were either iOS only, or were present on both Android and iOS, or were planning to come to iOS. I did not come across a single application that was Android only and was even developed as Android-first.
Whatever the platform, we would be reviewing these awesome applications over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for that. On a side note – One of the competitors, Fright Fight, have started a Kickstarter campaign to take their game to a whole new level. Check it out, and back them up if you like what you see!
Below are some images from the expo. Take a look.
AppAttack Competition: A stage for developers to showcase their latest and greatest mobile apps, was won over by Locket, an app that rewards you for seeing advertisements on your lock screen! A brilliant concept, if you ask me, and very well appreciated by the judges and audience.
G-startup Competition: Open Garden has an aim to seamlessly share the internet between devices and make it available (almost) everywhere. Winning the G-startup competition is sure to give their ambition a boost.
Global Game Stars Competition: A game with the unexpected name of My Singing Monsters by Big Blue Bubble Inc won this competition. Don’t go by the name. Check out the game or at least its video. That video got the entire audience clapping!
As the first technology conference I attended, I would say my experience was pretty nice. It was a great learning experience to get a global perspective of opportunities and challenges in the tech sector when it comes to mobile. If I can, I would attend the GMIC next year as well.
Meanwhile, there are other big events to check out.