We had the opportunity to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, held from 26th of February till 1st of March at the Fira. Record attendance with over 110k attendees, and a large mix of exhibitors across 10+ halls make this conference more than the mobile industry get together, it's also has become a key event for adjacent industries in IoT, connected cars, self-driving cars, startups and regional software company presentation.
MWC endorses the UN sustainability goals – These were front and center, including souvenirs and advertising. Given that for many people in the world these days the smartphone is the access to the internet, news media, applications and learning, the mobile phone industry can be a true change agent for many countries, people and societies.
5G everywhere – I thought I saw a 5G sticker on my Iberic Ham sandwich… 5G was everywhere, slapped on everything… ironically the debut demos were all about… phone calls. And that's what 5G is not about, but about bringing networks to 21st century standard in throughput (high def video), latency (<1 ms) and density (over 100+ devices on a square meter). These are all key specs to enable a more human (visual), a more thing driven (density) and a more AI driven (latency) next generation application for enterprises, all very hard to do on current 4G / 4G LTE standards.
It's an Android show - Apple was MIA – not surprisingly – missing in action. Every handset I touched was Android. Google was out in force to show AR Core, Android Go, Flutter and more. While last year It was the year of Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant was everywhere at MWC. No surprise, the dominant OS makes its assistant ubiquitous. Just bad luck for Google to have a prominent out door spot during the coldest week of Winter in Barcelona.
New Smartphone possibilities – The lower entry points around 60-80$ for a handset have repercussions on enterprises. From a Future of Work perspective, for internal processes, cost is not a factor to give every employee a smartphone (maybe locked down). From a value chain perspective, it means more people in the world will have smartphones, so the ability of an enterprise to build and deliver its next gen Apps for mobile platforms is even more crucial.
|The Global Mobile Market by GSMA
MyPOVA huge conference, the true get together of the communications industry. Finally, the industry has found something to get giddy about, but with revenue only rising from 1.05T in 2107 to 1.1T (US$) in 2025 – the outlook for growth isn't rosy for operators. Considering that GSMA estimates the number of mobile subscribers rising during that timeframe by almost 1B to 5.9B, it means … lower prices for most users. That's good news for enterprises, again for both outside of the enterprise value chain and inside of the enterprise intra-enterprise processes.
On the concern side, it will take some time for 5G to come along, starting with legislative bodies approving the spectrums and auctioning them off. Little concerns of that happening smoothly in Asia – but e.g. the US timeplane is tight to make an auction happen in 2018. I am also not sure if many of the smaller vendors and startups got their ROI from attending the event, but that's what each of the them has to call out.
But overall an impressive event, the smartphone is and remains the enabling platform for next gen Apps.
Want to learn more? On March 2nd I was on Constellation's DisrupTV talking MWC – checkout the recording here.
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.