Top Gadgets

29 February 2012

Touring Google's Crazy MWC Booth

Touring Google's Crazy MWC BoothOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just like last year at Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona, Google’s booth is a playground. The search behemoth behind the Android mobile operating system is using its share of expensive tradeshow floor square footage as a place for OS and app developers along with enthusiasts to hang out, do business, get nourished, and have fun. More importantly, the company is showing off its dominance as the unquestionable number-one smartphone operating system provider. (For now, at least, of course.)

Google is all over the place here at MWC. There have been dozens of Android phones released in the last two days alone including handsets from HTC, LG, Samsung, and ZTE. Our Mobile World Congress Page has even more, along with scores of Android tablets, and we're not even halfway through MWC, which wraps on Thursday. Here at the show, the company's senior vice president of mobile, Andy Rubin tweeted that Android activations have topped 850,000 per day. To say that Google is dominant at MWC is an understatement.
All by itself at the end of Hall 8 in the Fira de Barcelona convention center, Google’s booth has dozens of stands where Android app developers show their wares, but there are some other non-traditional trade show booth elements including bedazzling robots, an Ice Cream Sandwich-centric snack bar, a conveyor belt rotating an endless supply of Android phones, fun claw machines stuffed with cuddly Androids, and a whimsical two-story slide, for instance. Check out our slideshow to take a visual tour of Google’s wacky, but impressive, MWC booth.

1: Greetings From the Android SlideOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bow to the Android. The Android welcomes you, with a free slide down from the second story of the Google booth. Just like at a carnival, you can collect a photo of you looking silly as you go down the slide, at the end.

2: Android Bedazzling Robot

One of the showpieces of the booth is an industrial robot, who slowly bedazzles cases for Galaxy Nexus phones. The wait list for a custom case was long enough that the robot will be working 24/7, Google rep said. And, yes, the robot runs on Android.

3: Android Bedazzled CasesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Want a custom Galaxy Nexus back made by an Android-powered robot? These are your choices. It’s just one day’s wait!

4: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Android Robot Lays It Down
The Android bedazzling robot, hard at work: I discovered that some of the British staffers at the Android booth don’t know the word “bedazzling,” which is clearly American English.

5: Android Snacks and SmoothiesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hungry? Google has you covered, but I feel like the smoothies have been better. Last year, Google had smoothies flavored like Eclairs, Gingerbread and Honeycomb–all versions of Android. This year, the predominance of Ice Cream Sandwich at the Android booth has led to other flavors, which aren’t necessarily tie-ins.

This fellow was serving up the Android smoothies at the Google booth. He told me all the actual ice cream sandwiches were melted, so I had to go away hungry.

7: Android Conveyor BeltOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Back for the second year, the rolling conveyor belt holds an endless march of Android phones, while text on the wall behind it chronicles the rise of Android since 2008. The conveyor belt even includes some more obscure Android phones, models that were only released in China or Japan.

8: Android Demo StationsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Several Android phone vendors had demo stations in the booth, including Huawei, Sony, ZTE, LG, and Samsung. Some phones, such as ZTE’s flagship quad-core device, were available to play with in Google’s booth when they couldn’t power on at their manufacturer’s booth!

9: Android Graffiti AreaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This niche was devoted to the idea of using Android tablets as music players. Can you feel the beat, DJ? Can you feel it?

10: Android Claw MachineOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Deep within the nightclub-like music playing area, there’s this claw machine where you can try your luck at getting a cuddly stuffed Android! There’s another claw machine at the other end of the booth space. It doesn’t look like it, but there’s a long line for these claw machines.

Up on the second floor of the booth, there are comfy couches where Android developers and their friends can have meetings. Each table has a phone clipped to it.

12: Second Floor Overview OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looking down from the second floor you see some of the app developer areas. Those Androids with hats each signify a different app category, which is being demoed in that space.

This one baffled me; it’s a wall of strangely textured objects, some rough, some furry, some bouncy. The theme seemed to have to do with the materials Android phones are made of. That guy is touching the screen, but nothing in this part of the booth seemed to be a touch screen.
 By Sascha Segan