I was in two minds this year as to whether to attend MWC or not given I was going to attend CES in January and I expected to get a good feel for the 2011 trends there. After a long debate I decided to bite the bullet and miss one more Valentine’s Day at home, break in a new pair of shoes and fly off to sunny Barcelona.
Although some of the trends for the year have been presented at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January, Mobile World Congress is certainly not an event to be missed, as it remains the “must attend” show in the mobile world industry. Vendors that play a more dominant role in mobile and have a more world-wide presence keep their best in show for this event to make sure they get the deserved attention.
Over the years, MWC has mutated to reflect the changes that the mobile industry is going through. The name alone was a give away from GSM to 3GSM to Mobile World Congress. Looking at the big brand names that we see taking part this year: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo. Twitter and Intel just to name a few it is clear how there is much more than mobile that gets discussed and showcased in Barcelona. The addition of Macworld Mobile as part of App Planet testifies the impact that Apple, a brand that does not usually take part in the event, has had on the mobile industry not just from a hardware perspective with iPhone and iPad but even more significantly, for its App Store.
Smartphones and tablets will be at centre stage of the show and with them all the ingredients that allow them to be at the top of many consumers shopping list: dual-core chipsets, 3D technology, improved user interfaces around touch, faster networks on LTE technology, new form of payments such as Near Field Communication, and lots of applications.
With devices becoming more and more capable, dual-core processors allow for a faster richer experience when it comes to gaming, HD video, browsing and graphic -intensive user interfaces. Speed on the devices is only half the story though. Cellular networks need to step up to deliver better speed and more capacity. LTE will do exactly that and after many years that have seen developments on infrastructure and USB keys and PC Cards should finally show us some devices. LG’s invite to their press conference talks about taking us to a new dimension hinting 3D will soon be coming to their Optimus product line. 3D indeed brings a new dimension not just to video and gaming but also for user interfaces in a similar way we have seen with Android Honeycomb OS for tablets. Lastly, we expect Near Field Communication to roll out in more Android devices and be supported by operators as consumers make their mobile phone even more the center of their life by turning them into digital wallets.
With travel budgets not as tight as last year, and judging from the high attendance numbers at CES, we should expect a big crowd in Barcelona where things will kick on Sunday Feb. 13 the day before the actual event opens. I expect a great buzz, from an industry that is going through an exciting time where industry players are presented with many opportunities but also face unexpected threats.
See you in Barcelona!
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