Every year in February, Barcelona hosts the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC), considerd the world’s largest exhibition of the mobile industry. The event which usually attracts some 70,000+ participants has this year welcomed a record-breaking 100,000+ visitors from over 200 countries at their new cutting edge Fira Gran Via facility. The congress showcased 1,500 of the most influential mobile operators, device manufacturers and software builders, but also acted as a conference with numerous key speakers discussing the latest issues and opportunity within the Mobile space.
MWC top trends
The following are some of the mobile trends discussed during the congress:
- We will be connecting the Next Billion of users to the Mobile Internet in the next couple of years. Many of the device manufacturers agreed to provide a $30 price points for standard smartphones (similar to the concept of the $100 computer). Most of those newcomers will be very young and ambitious and will certainly want to learn more about themselves (and why not through an image quiz?)
- Marketing and brands will increasingly move to the Mobile space. Many businesses should have a much large mobile budget (representing the user’s device share) and target more efficiently smartphone and tablet users.
- Although Android and iOS will be leading the way, some newcomers such as Mozilla, Ubuntu and Jolla might take centre stage.
- Enriching the User Experience (also known as Quality of Experience – QoE) will be a very hot topic in 2013 and the best way for mobile operators to maintain their share of the market.
- The Mobile industry is currently worth an astonishing $1.8 trillion and this figure will only get bigger, especially due to the rise of high quality content such as video on demand and mass adoption of cutting edge technology such as LTE 4G.
- The move from laptop to mobile is much faster than expected. In the last 7 months alone the market share of mobile vs. desktop moved from 16% to 37%. Some predicts that smartphone will account for 2/3 of all data traffic by 2017.
- Global operators data revenue will surpass voice in the next years (2015) mostly due to the surge in demand for connected devices and Machine to Machine (MtoM).
- Globally mHeath, mAutomobile and mEducation will revolutionise user’s lives, by saving them money, time, reducing carbon emission and also saving lives (especially in sub-Saharan markets).
- 4G LTE will become more and more popular, especially in developing countries such as India where it will skip 3G. In the UK EE estimates that about a quarter of its subscribers will switch to their 4G network which already covers about half of the country’s population.
- The Cloud Market is worth an astonishing $31 Billion annually and expending at the incredible speed of 25% annually. Most of the revenue is generated from online-advertising, ecommerce and online media on the consumer side, and from software-as-a-service on the business side.
- Mobile Operators Networks should lead the cloud services revolution, as they are already one of the world’s biggest clouds. They have the power to drive economy of scales and accelerate time to market.
- Mobile numbers in China are going through the roof both in terms of subscriptions and devices. Huawei is leading the way, with their flagship 4G phone, considered the fastest smartphone ever, supporting download speed of up to 150MB much faster than the iPhone or Galaxy S3.
- Small Cell technology (low-powered radio access nodes with a range of up to 200 meters) will play a fundamental role to cope with the expanding surge of data. Already all the major LTE carriers have a small cell programme to get ready for an eventual deployment.
- One of the hottest topics of the conference was around Connected Living where various industries including automotive, home utilities, consumer electronics and education will be connected to the cloud. This will lead to safer cars, more customized homes, better schools, more efficient hospitals and smarter cities.
- The Mobile Automotive will become a popular trend with car manufactures integrating their vehicles into the mobile space. Their goal is to have about half of all their cars connected to the cloud in the next couple of years, reproducing the same interactive experience that the customer might have at home or at the office.
- Many companies such as AT&T with their Digital Life will be leading the way for home automation incorporating a variety of mobile services such as smart security, 24/7 video, energy monitoring, door package monitoring, water detection and control.
- There will be new Business Models emerging surrounding the expansion of connected wireless devices in homes, schools, and cars. Many predict that the number of wireless devices will exceed the number of mobile handsets over the coming decade, which will represent significant new business opportunities for mobile operators, vendors and industry partners such as Visual DNA.
- Mobile technologies can transform the effectiveness and efficiency of education and training delivery. Some of the key concepts in mEducation include flip classroom, Samsung tablet classroom (learn with only a device), special data plans for school, augmented reality and Singapore 3G experiment where all 3rd grader were offered a smartphone as a learning tool.
- With a global youth population now exceeding 2 billion, the mobile generation are driving demand for connectivity, services and applications. The digital natives are a huge and expanding market offering massive opportunities for the mobile industry.
- There should be a huge concern for European governments about our current educational system, which doesn’t prepare kids for the digital economy. There will be an estimated 700K ICT related unfilled jobs by 2015.
- Digital literacy should become a key part of states educational curriculum along with English, math, science, and art. Research reveals that 67% of UK kids are interested in coding but only 3% know how to do so.
- The 2012 Global Mobile Youth study involving 5 big countries (Japan, India, Indonesia, Egypt and Chile) showed that the average age for getting a mobile device is 12, that 65% of kids own a mobile phone (and up to 91% in Egypt) , 27% own a smartphone, 20% are online for over an hour per day, 60% download or use mobile apps including entertainment apps, 60% use education apps, 50% use SNS, 70% make new friends with an average of 300 friends (and over 580 in Indonesia – way more than their parents), 80% say that having a mobile phone boost their confidence and up to 90% say that it improves their existing relationships.
- There should be more tech events such as the Campus party, known as the worlds’ biggest youth hack, attracting some 7k participant and over 200K visitors. Just as we do during the Hackathon, it is important to give youngster a place where they can hack and share ideas, so we may build a more entrepreneurial young Europe.
- HTML5 OS like Firefox OS will be a game changer for the mobile industry especially in emerging markets such as Brazil. Alcatel One Touch, ZTE and LG will all launch a Firefox OS device this year.
- HTML5 will provide a “third way” for building apps discarding the proposed 70/30 business model of Android & iOS.
- Mobile has become a significant source of revenue for Facebook representing almost a fourth of their income in the last quarter. Over 600 million users currently access it on the go and an astonishing 70% of those accessing it every day.
- The mobile browser will remain very important and many sites and businesses should think of responsive design to improve the user quality of experience both on smartphone and tablet devices.
- Many data businesses face multi-platform challenges (laptop, smartphone, tablet) such as trying to track unduplicated audience.
- Mobile devices will have disrupting effect at home with more users owning a variety of devices (already over 6 million Brits own a tablet & smartphone), many of them multi-tasking (phone and TV) and using them in a variety of places including bedroom, family room, home office and kitchen.
- Mobile Commerce is gaining momentum, with already 1 in 5 smartphone users buying on device.
- The GSMA OneAPI exchange, a new flexible tech platform aiming to easily deliver network capability such as ID and payment, will facilitate the build of more advanced apps by third party developers leveraging network specific functions.
- Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is gathering momentum, already launched in various markets including the US, Canada, France, UK and Turkey.
- To become a game changer, NFC should not only be presented as a fast payment method but also provide the consumer with a much richer and integrated experience in the form of digital discount, coupons and loyalty programs.
- Apple wasn’t part of the convention and many believe that doing things independently isn’t the best approach in our very connected world (Flash Player, Google Map… and now not accepting NFC…is that the way to go?)
The following is a selection of some of photographs from the MWC in Barcelona.
The following is an HD Film created by Mat Siems about the best of the MWC in Barcelona.