Our thoughts on the Mobile World Congress 2013

posted by Magnus Engvall16 Mar 2013

The Mobile World Congress 2013 is over and some 72.000 visitors and 1.700 exhibiting companies have gone home. Our own Head of Mobile, Nordics Magnus Engvall was among this year’s attendees and he takes us through some of this year’s highlights.

A new venue

The Mobile World Congress got a new venue in 2013, the Fira Gran Via, and this was a well received improvement. Overall, the venue felt more “professional” and the organization definitely raised the standards in terms of space, logistics and food.  On the other hand, the new location was further away from downtown Barcelona, which made people spend much more time in the traffic. Also, the old venue had more of a traditional charm with small gardens surrounding the venue, while the Fira Gran Via felt more like Frankfurt Airport.

The rise of Android.

Aesthetics aside, I found this year’s Mobile World Congress to be much more exciting than, say, one or two years ago, and this is in no small part due to the reduced focus on major Android hardware announcements. The birth of Android was a great thing, but it also had the effect that all manufacturers ended up exhibiting the same phone. Luckily, this year manufacturers rather focused their innovation on integrated Content and Services, connectivity and screen mirroring with other hardware (e.g.  Smart TVs). That however didn’t mean that the new Android phones and tablets were any less impressive, and as an iPhone 5 user I am pretty convinced that Apple needs to try a little harder with their next release. 

As an operating system, Android has established its market dominance by acquiring market share from most smart phone manufacturers other than IOS, and this could possibly make Telcos adopt an “Android first”-strategy. Nokia, on the other hand, seems determined to continue to rely on the Windows platform and don’t seem too worried about their poor sales performance. This was evident in their stand design, which main feature was a rather nice café (free of charge of course). “The phones are not that popular really, but more cava, anyone??”

Innovative Mobile operating systems.

Talking about mobile operating systems, some very interesting initiatives for the future were present at the MWC. 

Firstly, Firefox presented Firefox OS, an operating system based on open Web standards (HTML, CSS and Javascript) which allows developers to freely develop and run applications. This is different direction from the Android, iOS, Windows Phone and other mobile operating systems, which are mainly proprietary. The Firefox OS is scheduled to arrive later this year and ZTE have announced the first smartphone to run on Mozilla’s HTML5-based Firefox OS. 

Tizen OS is another open source initiative, based on the Linux and old Meego platform, and will be mainly driven by Intel and Samsung, who announced smartphones with the Tizen OS shipping in the late summer. Finally, Ubuntu presented their new Ubuntu Touch OS developed by Canonical which will be available in October.  Their innovative OS allows you to turn it into a full desktop operating system if plugged into a doc – how cool is that! Ubuntu Touch software is  already out in a version operating on the latest Nexus.

Mobile payment 

Mobile payments are crucial for next development in customer applications and 2012 was the year when the mobile wallet didn’t really make it – again. At the MWC however, Mastercard took a giant leap and announced the MasterPass. The excitement around MasterPass is that it won’t simply be a system used to make mobile payments using technology such as NFC, but will address all forms of digital transactions whether it’s in stores, online or via your phone. Maybe that’s just what we need!

One of my personal highlights of the Mobile Conference was definitely the AppPlanet part of the exhibition, as this year it was more than ever about monetizing and marketing apps. Companies such as Tradedoubler, Fiksu and Tapjoy are crucial for a successful app commerce strategy, becoming a part of the ecosystem. The young and proactive atmosphere in this hall gave many business opportunities and a lot of inspiration.

Another highlight was the Ericsson’s Key Note event on Tuesday night, well-structured and executed with M2M and Networked Society as a leading theme. And finally Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, invited Avicii on stage and then they launched a new song right there, XYOU based on a crowd-sourcing process. The coolest thing was that they showed the Twitter feed from when Avicii entered the stage and when they played the new song we could see it spreading over the Internet on another huge screen. Well thought through and executed! I’m not sure everyone in the audience understood what was going on though…

Tags: News (267), Mobile (32), Telecoms (7), Technology (46)

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