The History of the AAS Pub Meet

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Ewan takes a beer-tinted glance over the history of the Symbian world's most infamous annual gathering.....
The ChiefWith the Symbian Smartphone Show approaching, the All About Symbian team is swinging into action to organise another of our (in)famous Pub Meetings. But pull back the fog of time and you find that the last three years have seen adventures, premieres, exclusive chat, lots of beer… oh, and the legendary mystery star prize in the raffles.

The 7650 - Small For It's TimeIt all started back in 2003. The Symbian Expo (which has gone through a huge number of name changes, but remains, essentially, the same event) was set for a return to London. 18 months ago the Symbian Developer Expo in Barcelona, 2001 – now it was coming back - to the ExCeL centre in London, and with All About Symbian rapidly gaining readers, the team decided to find a room, open the doors and see who turned up.

And turn up you did. With the promise of catching sight of a pre-production SX-1, and a talk from Siemens, our room filled up, held a few more, and spilled out onto the street. The Dover Castle was always a fun venue with one complaint. It was a bit small. And that was one reason to choose it, because you could spill easily into the main bar if it was full, and it would be relatively cosy if the numbers were low. Till the doors opened on that April evening, we weren't sure it it would be a success or not.

Mystery Star Prize Number OneBy the end of the night, the poor barmaid run off her feet, with throngs of people on the street, it would be fair to say that it was a success. Maybe it was the company, maybe it was the candidness of Siemens… or maybe the free raffle and the super sweet (ahem) Mystery Star Prize that got everyone over the threshold. No matter, the pub meet was a success and it was scheduled for a fast return.

With no Expo planned for another 18 months (Symbian wanted to get away from being at the end of a treadmill of mobile conferences), it was left to AAS to carry the pub meet flag (alongside Mobitopia – another organisation no longer with us).  A few months later, in August, we met up again, with more raffles and a lot of discussion – this time around Nokia’s N-Gage platform. A much more sedate time, the crowd was naturally more London based, although everyone was still as enthusiastic.

Let Us In!Three in one year. That’s when the November 2003 meet gave us our first look at the Sendo X. Another company no longer with us. Looking back at it now, we seemed to have a bit of a Kiss of Death on new products. Maybe the next pub meet, opposite the 2004 Symbian Expo, would break that routine?

What it didn’t break was the number of attendees. It was painfully obvious that the star attraction was not only the talk from Nokia on the 9500 Communicator, but also the chance to win one of the first Series 80 v2 smartphones in the UK. It was so new that we had to hand out a voucher and then send out the phone when it got off the freighter a few weeks later. Luckily, the Kiss of Death seems to have been averted at this point – and another Mystery Star Prize winner went home with a huge smile on their face.

Remember Side TalkingBy now, none of the main AAS staff were living in London (although we’re all just about within commuting distance, so the next meeting was a year away, again pairing up with the Symbian Smartphone Show (which is the current name). And a radical change was afoot. It was time to leave The Dover Castle for a venue that was more convenient location-wise (given most people were staying close to ExCeL in the Docklands) and one that would be able to have everyone in the same room. So to the Cross Keyes in the City of London it was, in 2005.

Putting together all the rumours and tit bits, we were pretty sure the P990 was going to be announced a few hours before the Pub Meet. So we put on the Trilby’s and did our best. Honestly we really tried, but Sony Ericsson were not letting anything slip. Mind you, it gave everyone something to talk about. Not that we were short of topics, with our main speaker being John Holloway, providing a timely reminder of the potential dangers (in terms of freedom of development) of the new security models in Symbian OS. A err..... robust discussion followed, one that continued long into the night(!)

Steve and JodySo what now? Well, the 2006 meet is the Monday night before the Expo, as usual, and a number of other meetings are seeing this timeslot as a natural place to get their teams together – and who can blame them. But we’ll have some good speakers this year, lots of cutting edge hardware to give away (just you wait till you see the list), the mystery star prize, and of course, the writers, readers, forum members and general fans of All About Symbian. You make us who we are, so come on down and say thank you to yourselves over a pint, with some great chat.

See you there!

Ewan Spence, 5th October 2006