If you were hoping to find a hotel room in Barcelona last week, then tough luck. Barcelona was full, period. It was the week of the Mobile World Congress, you see, the annual convention of what is, for the moment at least, the most dynamic industry on the planet. Everybody and his dog was there, except of course Apple, which sees no need to play second fiddle even to a global conference when it can attract more media attention with its own events.
Leave aside the fact that it was Apple that triggered the most recent explosion in the mobile industry — the smartphone revolution — and ponder what was actually on show in Barcelona. The answer, in the words of one astute and unsentimental observer, professor Barry Avery, was: "Many phones, little innovation." (Shades of Yeats' pithy description of his — and my — native land: "Great hatred, little room.")
"The message coming out of this year's event," wrote Avery, "is that while there are lots of new phones coming, we shouldn't expect a great technological leap from any of them. Most of the phones are incremental updates, running the latest version of Android's mobile phone operating system KitKat."