Mobile World Congress is HUGE, overwhelming and chaotic. If you don’t plan your visit you won’t get much out of it other than a lot of business cards, brochures and tired legs. I’ve been attending it for the last 10 years, so you can call me a pro by now. Here’s how to make the most of the four days.
How to Make the Most out of MWC
First, decide what you want to get out of it whether it’s a report back to your company, new customers or partners, investors for your start-up, learning about new technology or finding a solution for a specific problem.
A couple of years ago, one of our clients was looking for indoor mapping and location technology. We helped them identify 12 companies (using the MWC directory and contacting them) with relevant technology and set up a meeting with the 7 most suitable alternatives. This took almost an entire day, but in the end they had two potential partners to whom they issued an RFP. Job done.
Last year an operator contacted us as they were doing a report on mobile ad tech to their board, identifying partnership and investment opportunities. Together we mapped out the relevant players including ad platforms, ad networks, exchanges, DSPS, programmatic, etc., and organized a target list for meetings. In addition to this we reserved 4 hours to wander around and visit other ad tech players in Hall 8 primarily. The activities took 2.5 days and resulted in a great report.
Another client from a major airport visits MWC every year to find out what’s going on in mobile, meet potential partners and catch up with the senior directors of existing vendors. Last year their focus was on payments, beacon providers, IoT for real estate and transportation, NFC/RFID technologies and to see what suppliers are doing for other airports. Two days packed with meetings and demos resulted in several new initiatives.
Expected Trends at MWC
Here’s a bit more on what you can expect to see and experience from MWC at large:
Expect big announcements from Sony (Xperia Z5), HTC (One M10 or Vive), Lenovo, Huawei, LG, Samsung (Galaxy S7), and Xiaomi (Mi 5).
You definitely shouldn’t miss the Galaxy S7 and Mi 5 as we expect significant updates. It’s the first time Xiaomi has a presence at MWC, but they’ve communicated they have no plans to launch their products in Europe or the US at this time. Finally, we expect wireless charging coming in more devices as the industry is now down to two standards.
Last year had a lot of focus on wearables with every manufacturer launching their smartphone or wristband in anticipation of the Apple Watch launch. As per our trends presentation this year, everyone failed to gain any momentum for their products and therefore we expect less focus on wearables for the consumer market and more for enterprise and healthcare.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
MWC and media are making a big deal about this as it’s exciting and high tech. There will be 51 vendors exhibiting their solutions for VR and AR which are actually not officially combined. Last year there were some nice demos by Samsung, but nothing groundbreaking. This year the discussions will be around product readiness, consumer demand and enterprise use cases.
The best demo is probably the flight simulator in the GSMA Innovation City. We will also be demoing the latest version of Oculus Rift at the Innovation Lab at our Barcelona offices.
5G talks continue but it’s just talk as real networks based on the 3GPP 5G standard probably won’t launch until 2019 or 2020. The main focus around 5G is supporting IoT and a massive increase in network traffic from video. Not really relevant unless you work for an operator, device manufacturer or infrastructure provider.
If you want something cool to share with your colleagues, then this is it. For the first time MWC has a drone zone by Intel which among other things will show a person walking around inside a cage being followed by a UAV Drone.
One theme we are seeing is that operators, network providers and other communication vendors are becoming vertical experts. Whereas they previously all claimed to be in every vertical we now see them hiring specialists within e.g. utilities, transportation and healthcare that can really add value to their customers. Therefore it could be interesting for e.g. a utility company to meet with specialists from the big operators to discuss how they can help.
The Vanishing SIM Card
GSMA, the trade organization behind MWC, is working with mobile operators and SIM card vendors to finalize an e-SIM standard for IoT devices. The purpose is to get rid of the physical SIM card for these devices, making global distribution easier for manufacturers and customers. Technically this is not too difficult, but the real challenge is for the operators to agree as they want to avoid cannibalization on roaming revenues.
Internet of Things
Finally, you can expect IoT to be mentioned pretty much everywhere. To us the most interesting things will be new connected sensor technologies for consumers and enterprise combined with big data that can help improve healthcare predictions, transportation, energy consumption and our homes. We will be demonstrating the Point sensor by Minut at our Innovation Lab which is a fantastic example of this.
For more tips on how plan for MWC, an overview of the venue and more, see our previous post.
Magnus Jern, President DMI International