Spain’s “Mundo Internet” Shuns Slowdown Concerns

(Madrid, Spain–February 13) If trades shows are an indication of economic
health, European IT firms may have cause for optimism. Unlike their
stateside New Economy counterparts, picking though the pieces of the
“dot-com crash” and portrayed as flogging an aging tortoise, firms converged
on Mundo Internet 2001 last week under the oft cited conviction that Europe
will replace the U.S. as the economic motor of the coming decade.

While U.S. shows like the recent Macworld Expo cut back on the schwag and
dissimulated the gaping holes where vendors once dwelled, Spain’s top
gathering of the digerati had to erect temporary tents to accommodate the 30
percent attendance growth over last years show.

“We’re in a crucial year for defining the world of applications and
services,” said Miguel Perez Subias, president of the Spanish Internet
Users’ Association (AUI). “These should find backbone in Spain’s emerging
telecommunications infrastructure and in the collective demand of the
growing number of users. This has already reached 23 percent of Spaniards
and is going to see spectacular growth in coming months.”

Speakers from around Europe and the U.S. came to discuss everything from
e-commerce and high-speed mobile telephony to interactive television and
broadband Net access. If some U.S. firms are retreating to lick their
wounds, the Spanish show featured such forward-looking seminars as
“International Expansion: Europe and/or Africa. The Great Strategic
Dilemma.”

Don Felipe de Borbon, Spain’s prince, defended expansion to Latin America
on purely cultural grounds.

“Spain can and must share its projected Knowledge Society with all of those
who share our language,” said the heir to the Spanish throne.

Regardless of the ups and downs of high-tech indices such as the Nasdaq or
Spains Nuevo Mercado, “the real point of inflection is going to be the
expectations of users,” said Francisco Roman, president of Microsoft
Iberica.

“Net use in Spain has doubled. Before it was way behind [the rest of]
Europe and the U.S. Why? Because there was no content,” said Esteban Lam,
commercial division director for Microsoft Online Business. “But now that is
changing. When users were offered soccer, for example, use skyrocketed.”

As is customary, the AUI presented annual awards for the best Spanish work
on the Web.
GeoPlaneta [www.geoplaneta.com ] received the Best Webpage award while the
prize for best company site went to the wire service Efe [www.efe.es]. The
best leisure and entertainment trophy went to Barcelona Virtual for
www.terramiticapark.com. Joan Martm Mas’s personal homepage
[www.mundofree.com/joanmmas] was considered the best of its kind at the
national level.

One award is always reserved for the journalist with the most influential
Web coverage. This year’s recipient was Isabel Duran, known for her
Net-oriented program “Enredate.”

News Around the Web