February 25th, 2014

MWC14 Day 1 Report – mCars, Galaxy S5, Nokia X, Facebook Internet.org and more

Our team of 10 scouts reported from all over the 90.000 sqm Mobile World Congress floor yesterday. Yes, it’s gigantic! Here are a few of the key things we spotted as well as the key announcements from the first day:

Cars and more cars
In Hall 3 where some of the biggest telco companies such as Samsung, Qualcomm, ZTE, Huawei and Ericsson have their enormous stands the key trend of the year was to have cars in their stands. Other than looking pretty cool we question what most of them were doing there. There were however two interesting trends to watch. Firstly more and more of the car manufacturers are replacing the navsat displays with bigger tablet type screens with downloadable apps and better voice control. Secondly several of them are experimenting with providing the driver with various information on the touch and windows displays from the outside world through sensors and big data.

What do we think?
Apps in cars are definitely happening and with access to the cars APIs we are going to see some really cool stuff going forward. Based on the discussions and questions we had they seem unclear about to what extent these new technologies are improving safety. We are also wondering when we will get to see the real innovator in this space, Tesla, at MWC?

 

Samsung Galaxy S5
A lot of people are already saying that Samsung stole the show at MWC with no less than 3 new wearable devices and the Samsung Galaxy S5. A quick recap of the Galaxy S5 specs include harder and more premium feel shell, faster processor, bigger screen, higher resolution, faster and better camera, water resistance, enhanced battery life, faster Wifi and 4G, health tracker and a fingerprint scanner. For more details see a myriad of other sites and reviews.

What do we think?
Just like the iPhone 5S this is an evolution rather than a revolution but the device surpassed most of our expectations. Rather than loading it with lots of new features Samsung has done a great job taking a fantastic device to the next level in every single way. One of the most exciting functions was that the fingerprint scanner also enables payment authentication. The S5 will be a winner in 2014.

Nokia X
Nokia lovers had already given up on Nokia ever launching an Android device but then suddenly it happened and they launched not one but 3 new Android phones. the Nokia X for $122 with a 4-inch screen, Nokia X+ with an SD card at $136 and Nokia XL with a 5-inch screen, 5 megapixel camera and 2-mega pixel front facing camera at $149. They won’t be available in the US, Canada, Korea and Japan in part to avoid competing with Lumia phones.

Nokia also announced two even cheaper phones including the Nokia 220 which comes with Facebook, Twitter and some games is meant as a starter phone for $40 and Asha 230 with more offers for apps at $62.

What do we think?
We are very impressed by the amount of smartphone for money you get with Nokia X for $122 or less than 100 euro. It has a lot of potential to do well in developing country which makes up a huge segment of the global smartphone growth. The question is whether Nokia still has the brand and distribution power to strike back with these devices. Brands targeting emerging markets should definitely plan to support this device.

Facebook Internet.org
Mark Zuckerberg used his keynote to communicate Facebook’s vision to connect the entire planet through the Internet.org initiative. He also talked about some of the potential with Whatsapp to disrupt mobile communication including messaging and voice across the world. Zuckerberg said: “WhatsApp is a great fit for us. Already half a billion people use it for messaging. It’s the most engaging app we’ve ever seen exist on mobile by far. About 70% of people who use WhatsApp, use it every day, which kind of blows away everything else that’s out there.”

What do we think?
Zuckerberg and Facebook have had bold plans in the past and most of them have proven successful. We think that Internet.org will help connect more people, grow Facebook to 2 billion active users over the next year and that Whatsapp will prove to compete with Skype and other VoIP services as well as the mobile operators voice services over time.

Other
There were of course 100s of other announcements and interesting trends and here are a few:

  • Ford said they will drop Microsoft for Blackberry QNX in Sync Systems
  • Samsung Gear Fit focused on the fitness crowd
  • HTC launched to new mid range phones
  • Privacy focused Blackphone announced by Silent circle
  • Sony announced that the SmartBand SWR10 will be available in 60 markets in March

Day to preview
On Tuesday we will focus more on the Internet of Things and Beacons in particular. Stay tuned…

 

Tags: internet of things Mobile world Congress MWC

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