With the biggest mobile event for 2017 having officially just finished here’s our key take outs from MWC. As you’d expect there’s several themes to this year’s key take outs but some of them may surprise you.
Our experts Imran Choudhary and Ranj Dale summarise the key highlights from the show.
5G and Internet of things (IoT) - Think you’re in a connected world…you haven’t seen nothing yet!
In the past both 5G and IoT have been buzz words with little substance. We did hear the same buzz words this year but there was actually something to see as well. With significant strides being made in 5G, networks and their infrastructure partners were keen to shout about the future being just around the corner, rather than something many miles away. Brands like Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson talked about the rise of IoT, multiplying 5G’s impact to create a seamless connection. You might be thinking this sounds familiar, I mean, it’s hard to show someone a concept right? With potential for connecting people via mobile devices reaching a saturation point, the industry is focusing on connecting other devices as well as powering AI and Smart Home. Brands from IBM, Peugeot through to AT&T showcased Big Data, connected solutions and autonomous vehicles. There’s work to be done, but we’re closer to the destination. We know Vodafone recently announced they have connected 50m devices through IoT across the globe and it’s this scale that gave us cause for excitement at MWC. With the likes of Visa and non-traditional tech companies becoming involved in IoT, you know that this is on the cusp of becoming part of our everyday fabric of life.
VR – It’s not all about gaming anymore
If you were lucky enough to go to MWC, you couldn’t have not noticed the hub of activity around Samsung’s Galaxy stand which showcased several VR attractions. Queues to go on the ‘rides’ were up to an hour long from 10am till closing. In the consumer space, the trend was to talk about hardware and use case. Hardware to show how devices are getting better and cheaper and the use case to show that this isn’t just about gaming, with real life applications a plenty. What was more noticeable was the increase in VR devices on show in an enterprise context. This may reflect an easier short term opportunity within enterprise as there are more tangible use cases to demonstrate. Potentially VR has major implications for supporting collaboration in the work place – enabling sharing of ideas in a more immersive way. Just as we are used to putting on a headset or earphones to make calls from our laptop, one day in the not too distant future, we may well be putting on our VR headpiece to enter a virtual call.
Mobile devices – It’s getting even more crowded
As you might expect one of our themes had to be mobile. With the absence of Samsung’s annual flagship handset launch at MWC, there seemed to be less noise at the premium end. However, this gave the rest of the players a chance to have their voices heard. This was the first year we attended MWC with little expectation of seeing a real game changing innovation on the device front. Consumers and analysts like us have come to expect the pace of innovation slowing as far as devices are concerned. Iterations now consist of faster processors, better cameras and thinning bezels – the LG G6 showing a glimpse of what’s to come with an almost edge-to-edge screen. With the S8 and Apple’s devices to come later this year, we’re sure declining bezel will become the trend of 2017 for handsets. Nokia dominated the talk before MWC launched with the arrival or revival of the 3310, and this was a clever strategy bringing in coverage. The mid-tier OEMs (Lenovo, ZTE, Alcatel) made some strong advances and this for me was the broader take out. This part of the market is more competitive than ever before.
Wearables - Getting closer to realising the hype
Finally we come to wearables. Talk of the town for the last three years, but this time we actually did see some improvements that are worth talking about. LG and Huawei had expanded their Smartwatch range and now showcase fast, compelling Android wear devices. However, it wasn’t just Tech brands focussing on wearables as there was strong evidence of focus around fashion and contactless payments, making wearables more appealing. This suggests the market now realises that to truly meet consumer needs, they need focus around use cases addressing particular pain points and enhancing consumers’ lives.