There are 5 trends that came out of Mobile World Congress 2014 (MWC) where an estimated 75 000 delegates from 250 countries took over Barcelona to see what is new and exciting in the mobile world.
As Ford’s guest, I was fortunate to experience MWC. Its an incredible event that I would recommend as a must-do-at-least-once pilgrimage for every tech person. But we warned. It is easy to be overwhelmed at times by the massive size of the event that spans 8 hall each one housing hundreds of exhibitors from around the world so it takes a little while for the glitz and glam dust started to settle
the 5 trends that emerged from Mobile World Congress:
Trend 1: Low Cost devices:
There was no shortage of phones and tablets from companies that were focusing their attention on the developing countries who can not afford the high end pricy USD luxury phones.
The problem with low cost phones is that you have to compromise on features in order to make the phones affordable. I got the distinct feeling with some of the companies that they see the developing world as a cash-cow for their old technology that they can no longer sell elsewhere and will now dump into these countries who should be grateful. Something we should be aware of when thinking of great bargains from a no-name-company.
Of course this is not everyone’s attitude and brand-name companies like Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, BlackBerry, Lenovo, Alcatel, LG, Sony are looking at low cost phones but those that still carry their company brand proudly.
Two notable announcements were the Nokia Android based phones being the Nokia X, Nokia X + and Nokia XL as well as BlackBerry’s phones the QWERTY Q20 and the Z3 touchscreen devices.
Trend 2: Me too Wearable:
The trend from CES continued at Mobile World Congress where wearable-tech was at virtually every exhibitor stand. The new golden rule is that if you sell phones, then you must sell a wearable tech of some kind.
The problem with this trend is that yet again, there was no innovation but just existing technology packaged differently.
The big brand names took different approaches to their wearable devices: Huawei TalkBand is a bands that doubles up as a Bluetooth headset, Sony’s band allows you to record everything in your life at a touch of a button and not just how many steps you took, Samsung did a complete 180 removing Android from its Galaxy Gear watches.
I must add that the Samsung Gear Fit is the first wearable band that I would actually wear and use. Its not only smart in the features it offers, but it also looks smart too.
The developing countries were not forgotten with wearable tech including watches and bands ranging in quality and functions.
Trend 3: Phablets:
Clearly the hybrid between phone and a tablet trend is here to stay. Whilst there is no definitive definition of what a phablet is, there were lots of devices tipping over the 5 inch size mark.
Nokia XL at 5inch, Sony Xperia Z2 at 5.2 inch, HTC Desire 5.5 inch, LG G Pro 2 has a 5.9-inch device, Huawei’s MediaPad X1 7 incher.
It seems like there is a phone/ tablet/ Phablet at every size so there is something for everyone.
Trend 4: Consumer car tech:
Consumers are demanding more from their vehicles. This is true especially in countries where we spend many hours inside our vehicles commuting to and from work. Motor companies are adapting to meet that demand and instead of cigarette lighter sockets there are now 12volts sockets and USB ports to plug devices whilst on the go.
Ford was the only motoring company to officially exhibit at MWC and they had a lot to show at their stand. From the Ford Focus that parks itself and gets you our of the parking, to new tech inside the vehicle that allows you to synch your phone and access its apps via voice control to the way its vehicle uses ultrasonic mapping to work out what is going on around the vehicle.
QNX and Qualcomm made their in car infotainment system available with an impressive demo of how far you can push the vehicles controls beyond just paring your phone to make a phone call.
I suspect that Mobile World Congress of the future will start to look like an Auto-Show as more vehicles incorporate more consumer tech into their cars.
Trend 5: Innovation-less:
Yes, we saw new mobile products launched and yes those products will sell by the millions and consumers will love showing off their new gadgets. However, when you looking beneath the marketing, there was one thing I could not find in the event: real innovation.
According to Wikipedia, Innovation is defined as “the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.” If this is the case, then the one trend missing at the Mobile World Congress, was Innovation.
“Newly Launched” means modifying and evolving current devices and making them to smaller, bigger, faster, brighter so that new models could be sold. However, there was no device that is really going to cause the new paradigm shift in how we interact. Perhaps this is the end of mobile innovation. Perhaps “new” just means squeezing more into the same form factor?
The mobile game is always evolving. Who would have throught that you would be able to run BlackBerry BBM, on an Android operating system, that is running on a Microsoft owned Nokia device? Its no longer about the phone hardware, its about the software experience you have with the phone.