This year’s Mobile World Congress was the largest it's been in the event’s history, surpassing 100,000 attendees. Over the course of four days, 12 keynote sessions and 48 in-depth tracks, the conference served as an exceptional platform for mobile industry leaders to connect, discuss and explore the latest trends in mobile.
I wrote an article in February on my predictions for the show this year. Now a little over a month since the show ended, it’s time to look back and see how the mobile industry is already moving forward from the key themes that emerged.
My previous article talked about how 5G would be a major theme at Mobile World Congress, as it will have a huge impact on the Internet of Things. But 5G spans more broadly and has multiple facets that will impact everybody since it provides a mechanism to optimize spectrum utilization.
5G is becoming increasingly useful to support Virtual Reality for not only consumer use, but also for professional use in various industries, like healthcare. However, leaders in the telecommunications industry, such as Nokia and Verizon who were once at the forefront of this technology, are falling behind companies such as Facebook and Google who continue to push the limits.
While 5G will become vital to future innovations like VR, there are still around 4.2 billion people globally who do not have access to Internet. Google is aiming to provide accessibility through Project Loon, which uses balloons to fill coverage gaps and provide Internet to those without it. Facebook’s Internet.org initiative has also made strides by expanding Internet service to underserved parts of the world.
Once we see total global Internet accessibility, telecommunications companies will be able to lead the way to support powerful devices and technology that provide more value to everyday life.
As part of the connected lifestyle, a ton of new devices were debuted at Mobile World Congress. Each year, these announcements highlight the exponential growth of smartphones’ capabilities, but one thing remains stagnant – there is little differentiation among them.
What does this mean for the mobile industry? We need to stop attempting to drive innovation on hardware as a form factor and instead focus on differentiating devices by software and functionality. Vendors must start focusing on the user experience rather than the shock factor in design and style for new phones. This is because the functionality is what keeps devices relevant, interesting and useful to consumers. We’re already seeing this with Apple’s newly announced SE – it’s an old platform that has been refreshed. The form factor has not changed, but the software functionality is enhanced.
Although the mobile industry is traditionally synonymous with mobile devices, several other devices have emerged to challenge the mobile industry at this year’s conference – particularly, as was a huge theme at Mobile World Congress, virtual reality headsets.
As virtual reality works hand-in-hand with smartphones and becomes more mainstream, it’s taking live streaming and network connectivity to the next level.
But VR applications aren’t just purely for entertainment. VR is already being explored in professional industries, like healthcare. For example, doctors are placing microscopic devices in the human blood stream and using a VR headset in conjunction to get a real-time view of the human body. This new advancement is deemed to be extremely valuable in healthcare training and education. When paired with simulation technology, VR can also provide surgeons with feedback on how to train, diagnose and treat patients.
Advanced networks that can support these types of streaming are going to become increasingly important in the coming years. What’s more, the fastest growing segment of Internet usage is directly linked to video streaming. VR technology provides a much more immersive video experience, which means that we’re going to see the mobile industry affected not only in areas like healthcare, but across the board. We can expect this technology to become even more mature in the coming months with more commercial launches and product shipments.
The Internet of Things
IoT continues to be the enabler of connected devices beyond our smartphones. It’s also contributing to the growth of better products and services, not only in the mobile industry, but in the financial, insurance, and healthcare industries, as well.
While connected and driverless cars were some of the most popular IoT topics at the conference, IoT technologies for business, such as smart factories and Industry 4.0 frameworks, were also widely discussed. Because of this, IoT will soon become a valuable asset in dominating business deals. According to Gartner, the market for IoT services will top $101 billion this year and by 2020, spending for services like network deployment, operations management and data analytics is forecasted to reach $257 billion.
Cisco’s acquisition of Jasper is a great example of the perceived value of IoT – large corporations are beginning to jump on board and really see the value in investing in this technology.
The mobile industry has grown exponentially in the past year, and there are exciting innovations on the horizon that were displayed at Mobile World Congress. As we continue to move the industry forward, industry leaders must drive this innovation in order to create an enhanced and valuable future for consumers and enterprises.