MWC 2011 kicks off — with no WiFi

Mobile World Congress, a conference being held this week in Barcelona, is the Davos of the wireless world: CEOs of all the major players turn out to talk up their strategies, preview upcoming gizmos, and schmooze. Now, if there’s one thing a wireless conference should be able to do well, it’s wi-fi, right? 

Ha ha ha. The show’s Cisco system took a look around at the thousands of attendees, declared itself overloaded, and packed it in. 

MWC opened Monday with an keynote from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer — who found himself thwarted at every turn by the lack of connectivity. (That one wasn’t Cisco’s fault — the separate system Microsoft used was also overloaded.) The running theme of the presentation has become “We have no connection, but you can imagine how great that would be.”

Fortunately, there’s not a lot of actual breaking news in Ballmer’s presentation. An updated version of Windows Phone 7 (coming soon to actual phones near you, thanks to last week’s Nokia deal) due out later this year will have multitasking and cloud integration.

UPDATE: Actual news! Steve Ballmer just pulled an Apple-esque “one more thing,” and it’s a pretty awesome thing: Kinect will soon work with Windows Phone 7. The planned integration with Microsoft’s motion-control Xbox 360 system will turn mobile phones into quasi-controllers for the gaming system. For example: If one user is playing virtual Dodgeball and another player whips out a Windows Phone 7 device, the phone can recognize the Kinect and let the owner start lobbing balls using the phone. -Stacy, via Dave's “I have no wifi and am banging out news updates on my BlackBerry” dispatches.