Inside the app bubble at SXSW 2011.

Last month I was the lucky recipient of a free ride to and from the legendary South By Southwest Interactive festival and conference, courtesy of 1000heads. What follows is in no way meant to disrespect their efforts there — but Nokia fanboys and girls be warned: Some criticism of that company lies ahead…

It wouldn’t be fair to single out Nokia for their extravagant/wasteful parties when everybody else was guilty of the same thing. Maybe it took the abundance of free liquor to keep the house packed at a venue that was a bit off the beaten SXSW path. In terms of entertainment Nokia definitely delivered, with an exclusive unplugged appearance of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell.

Nokia also demoed their Find & Connect software, with the invited bloggers as willing test subjects. Much more than indoor GPS, Find & Connect allows users to exchange contact information automatically as they “encounter” each other.

Yup, sounds like a dating technology to me too.

It didn’t help that Find & Connect was deployed via a web browser — specifically the craptacular Symbian one — or that the WiFi in the building where the software was being demoed often didn’t work.

Elsewhere at SXSWi offerings ranged from the esoteric keynote on the game layer at the top of the world to an almost insulting presentation on NFC, which lasted all of fifteen minutes and was less informative than the Wikipedia entry on the same subject.

One couldn’t deny the commanding presence of mobile technology, though — and not just from the many startups hyping their location and/or social-based wares. The lasting image from SXSW for me happened at the premiere screening of Source Code — I was sitting in the balcony near the back, and when the credits started rolling at the end of the film literally hundreds of small screens lit up the theatre. And near as I could tell, none of them were being used for voice calls. 😎