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GSM goes Jerry Springer on us

Includes a fight and a final thought

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The GSM Association and assorted mobile industry top bods congregated in the Four Seasons hotel in London this morning to tell us about its new standard for next-generation mobile phones, M-Services.

It was only after a surprisingly entertaining hour-an-a-half though, walking back through Mayfair, that we realised quite what we had witnessed. Yes this was GSM meets Jerry Springer.

"I'm sick of your crap WAP" it was entitled, and it followed the traditional Jerry formula.

The MC introduced the various protagonists who bigged themselves up saying they were the best. The chairman and the CEO of the GSMA had the talking about nothing in long clever-sounding words thang off pat.

Then there was the straight-talking, arm-waving Italian - the mobile industry equivalent of the mouthy sister who's all that. Then the head of Openwave who filled in the cocky just-so-I-can-get-on-the-tele character. This being Britain though there was no whopping or booing, just some polite applause from the non-journalists in the room.

The stage was set for the denouement and thrashing of teeth. Nerves were tested with some critical questions and a bit of snapping. But it came to an over-zealous reporter who insisted the GSMA was setting up a cartel with Openwave for it to kick off.

"I find that offensive and inexcusable," said the GSMA CEO. The reporter pushed him further. The Openwave CEO chipped in: "I don't want to get into a fight with the gentleman [said snidely] but…" "Outside!" cried one man getting into the swings of things. "We can discuss this outside later," he said, rising to the bait.

Things were hotting up. The Association was late in coming up with this, it is trying to control a market, can it quantify any of its assumptions, billing systems are still ripping people off. The MC tried to deflect some of the strife with a lame gag to one of the journos he knew by name.

Sadly, it came to the end and no punches had been thrown. Those on stage were half-exhilarated, half-scared and wondering why they ever agreed to get up there in the first place though - just like the real thing!

And to top it all off the GSMA chairman gave us a Final Thought. "We know that WAP hasn't been a success and we appreciate we let you down and some of you must be hurting. But this standard will change all that. We have worked together and stood tall as a market - and you can always achieve more as a group than you can on your own. You will see the results in the next few months. We thank you for your healthy scepticism. Thank you for coming."

Sadly there wasn't a camera outside for recording the guests' various pearls of wisdom. We were ready for it: "Hi GSM! We've come all the way from Maddox Street to be here. You're the best! [Break into poor rap] Go GSM, go GSM, you the men, you the men, you know what time it is, yeah, yeah, one time, two time, 3G." ®

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