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#MWC2013 recap: General training learned – part 2

#MWC2013 recap: General training learned – part 2

By Stuart Newstead

Whenever you walked in to the new venue for that GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC2013), everything was unfamiliar. Indeed it just grew to become correctly obvious this was the MWC whenever a giant screen reassuringly began to exhibit four middle-aged white-colored men in smart suits speaking seriously about how exactly it had been vital the European mobile operators ought to be controlled less. It had been best to see some Congress traditions being maintained.

Within this second of two posts on MWC2013, we’ll check out the primary styles appearing out of Barcelona.

  • The show was fairly grounded in reality.  Little hype or hysteria – apart from a heavily-promoted but poor NFC experience across the venue.  For example, no talk of the wonders of 5G.  Instead lots of ways to deliver 4G/LTE efficiently (and even ways to let people have voice conversations on LTE networks)
  • Not quite hype, but certainly buzzwords struggling for clarity, included “big data” and “the internet of things”.  These are real enough subjects, so clarity and relevance will emerge
  • The mobile ecosystem is very broad: creation of digital content, management of the content, distribution of the content, payment for the content; voice calls are increasingly just another piece of content
  • The “mobile” part is primarily about managing the interface across the ever-decreasing distance over the air between a device and a controlling box, which could be a 3G/LTE cell, a WiFi router or a combination of the two
  • As cells are getting smaller, so the difference between a fixed network and a mobile network is reducing.  Both are starting to look like a big fixed pipe attached to a box that talks wirelessly to devices.  Microwave backhaul provides an interesting counterpoint though.
  • MWC no longer is the place for big launches of devices.  Generally competent displays, especially of lower-end smartphones, by the likes of ZTE, Nokia, Huawei, plus some impressive themed “hubs” by Samsung.
  • It’s hard to compare against someone who is not there, but a general feeling that the Apple devices and ecosystem are starting to look tired, though this could be the burden of carrying round $137 billion in cash all day every day.
  • A more “mature”, somewhat conservative, atmosphere, perhaps due to the lack of scantily-clad dancing girls explaining the intricacies of Operational Support Systems, or maybe the lack of “adult content” in the App Planet

Other observations

  • The show is highly cosmopolitan, with an astounding number of languages audible along the walkways.
  • The new venue is OK, and can certainly cope with the 72,000 visitors, but is a bit soulless and doesn’t allow you to escape during the day to the real Barcelona and its amazing architecture and atmosphere
  • The “natural” behaviour, even of mobile industry professionals, is to seek out the free WiFi, which was more prevalent than in previous years.  You can’t help thinking that mobile operators are missing a trick by not being more creative about data roaming.
  • More countries than ever with stands for their nation’s small companies and talent.  For the first time there was a China Pavilion, showing further increased confidence from that country.
  • The UK companies were spread across a number of halls.  Scotland led the way for UK innovation by having three different malt whiskies to taste.


Symbolic summary

The interest in connectivity implies that there’s little question that mobile operators can grow massively the volumes on their own systems. They are able to most likely make certain that unit costs fall quicker than unit prices, so profit growth from core business should result.

However, within the wider ecosystem which was the underpinning theme for MWC2013, this eye-catching stand works as a good indication that it’s most likely another person who supports the trump card – the ace of spades, the ace of spades.

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