Flagships lead the way
Although we only have rumours so far, it’s pretty safe to assume that there will be several flagships that will be launched at this year’s event. All the talk currently surrounds Samsung and a suspected Galaxy S6 to be unveiled in Barcelona, but there will undoubtedly be more. The benefits of debuting your number-one device at an event where all your rivals are battling for attention is an interesting topic for debate. Get it right and you catapult your product’s press and marketing onto an even greater stage, stealing the competition’s thunder in the process. Get it wrong, however, and you risk being lost in a sea of other new products and show bravado. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but if it can be achieved at the event there is probably no bigger platform for sending a message to the mobile industry.
Wearable world congress
As smartphone penetration has continued to rise, the search for the next product to really excite the mobile consumer has reached a frantic pace. Wearables have been the product area that people have invested in significantly, and this year’s MWC shows little sign of changing direction. There’s a number of manufacturers who are expected to join the wearables market at this year’s event and launch a product. The wearables space is gathering momentum, particularly as Apple’s rivals try to steal a march on the Apple Watch, which is expected to launch the following month. It’s strange to think of the importance that non-mobile devices now hold at a mobile event, but the trend shows little sign of abating and will surely be a significant part of the show for the future. The wearables pavilion will be the central hub for these products at this year’s events.
Connecting the dots
Another area that has continued to gain significance at the previous few editions of MWC has been connected living. Placing the smartphone as the remote control of the modern living environment is something that has many in the industry excited, and it is likely to continue to be a major area of importance at this year’s show. These devices extend the mobile offering beyond the device in a different way from wearables – they increase the importance of the phone rather than taking away from it. This year’s event features a number of seminars on the topic, and wearables can be expected to play a role on a number of stands from firms whose product lines offer the chance to display a connected living experience.
At this year’s MWC the GSMA Innovation City will attempt to demonstrate how mobile-connected products will continue to transform people’s personal and working lives. This will include experiential demonstrations from AT&T, Jasper, KT Corporation, Oral-B, Sierra Wireless and Vodafone.
Commerce and security
With the amount of mobile commerce that now takes place, it’s little surprise that the area is getting some attention at this year’s MWC. Commerce of course goes hand in hand with security, and both are likely to be major topics in 2015. The discussions are likely to involve both software and hardware – last year there were some major leaks, and mobile security concerns continued to be a hot topic. The pressure is on for the different companies operating the sector to prove themselves as the most secure choice for mobile commerce this year. Mobile World Congress provides the ideal platform to speak to the industry directly and really stand out as the platform of choice in this critical market. Again the presence of Apple looms large in this market, with Apple Pay one of the Californian brand’s key initiatives for 2015 – all of which intensifies the pressure on those already in the market.
It’s what’s inside
2015 looks set to be a year when operating systems and processors come increasingly to the fore. Google has been really pushing its Android platform as alternatives such as Tizen, Mozilla and iOS challenge the internet giant. The processor market is another that becomes fiercer with every passing year – Intel and Qualcomm are just some of the firms with a significant presence at this year’s edition. The connection between technology and mobile working is likely to be another theme, with companies such as IBM demonstrating how their technology can make businesses more mobile – the brand will be conducting MobileFirst seminars on the topic. Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich, meanwhile, will be delivering a keynote on how new products and technologies will power, connect and help secure the growing Internet of Things.
The next generation
Of course at any mobile event, spectrum is likely to be a hot topic of discussion, and this year’s event doesn’t disappoint. With the development of 5G happening across the world, MWC provides an opportunity for the major stakeholders to come together and discuss how things can be worked on collaboratively so they can come up with some of the international standards that will define the new technology going forward. As well as 5G discussions, there’s also a number of other spectrum-related technologies to be discussed by the technical leaders at MWC.
Plans for development
Along with the discussions about the future of networks, the GSMA is also running ‘Mobile for Development’, which brings together the GSMA’s mobile operator members, the wider mobile industry and the development community to drive commercial mobile services for underserved people in emerging markets. As part of the programme, the GSMA’s Innovation City features a ‘Mobile for Development Connected Community’, which the organisation says will ‘showcase the journey from digital, to financial to social inclusion in a rural setting’. The exhibits on show include an energy-efficient, solar-powered rural base station in action, as well as examples of how apps and feature phones can provide life-enhancing services to rural settings. ‘Mobile for Development’ is also hosting a number of seminars open to conference attendees.
Britain brands head to Barcelona
Mobile World Congress has always been a vital part of the UK mobile industry’s calendar, and this year is no different, with a number of UK brands of all sizes heading out to MWC. One organisation that helps smaller companies to get over to MWC and make the most of their time out there is techUK. The organisation has more than 850 members that collectively employ more than 500,000 people; about half of all tech sector jobs in the UK. Its CTO Stuart Revell believes that the smaller companies play a vital role at events such as MWC: ‘While it might be large companies that make the headlines at Mobile World Congress, the majority of the 1,900 companies exhibiting will be small or medium-sized organisations. These companies represent some of the most innovative technologies on show in the hall, demonstrating the latest industry trends in the development of new phones, tablets, devices, back-end solutions, technologies, applications, accessories and more.’
The types of companies attending the show has continued to develop over the years, with companies beyond the ‘traditional’ mobile firms now in regular attendance, Revell continues: ‘The UK has a strong presence at the show, making up 15 per cent of delegates and 10 per cent of exhibitors – evidence of the number of exciting British companies in the mobile space. But MWC has evolved to be about more than just mobile. It’s probably the most important ICT show in the world, covering all sectors, and reflective of the way mobile has become such a core part of our lives and businesses.
‘The quality of attendees; C-Level/VP/directors represented 55% of all attendees and 72% of all conference attendees in 2014, this represents a huge opportunity for these small, UK-based companies to meet potential partners, customers and investors. The new MWC app, launching this year in partnership with LinkedIn, is a great way for exhibitors to connect with the right people on the show floor and share content securely with new contacts.
‘techUK and UK Trade & Investment will once again be present at the show, at stand C40, Hall 7, providing UK mobile companies with the opportunity to bolster their international reputation and promote the UK’s capability in the mobile communications.’