If you ever want to be awed and overwhelmed by the innovation, technology and possibilities of mobile, look no further than Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain. The world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, MWC attracts over 90,000 mobile professionals and features prominent executives representing mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers and content owners from across the globe.
I had the privilege of attending this year's show, and it was pretty amazing while also being completely exhausting. MWC is held at a gigantic conference facility where no expense is spared, with each vendor showboating their latest and greatest mobile technology.
To be clear, MWC is primarily a technology showcase focused on hardware (and some software) and less on digital marketing. However, it offers a glimpse of how marketers might deliver mobile contextual experiences from these new technologies. Marketers can also get a feel for how they might act on some of this mobile data to deliver more personalized experiences across new connected devices and objects (including the “Internet of Things”). Here are my top takeaways from MWC:
1) Smartphone innovation continues to be a key battleground between vendors.
HTC, LG, Samsung, ZTE, Xiaomi and Huawei introduced new devices at MWC, including several new wearables. What's interesting about Huawei, ZTE and Xiamoi is that they've primarily been known for producing low- to mid-tier devices for the Chinese market, but now they're taking big steps toward attacking the U.S. market with high-end devices.
2) The 5G hype is building.
Although most developing nations are just rolling out ultra-fast 4G networks to support consumer demand for mobile data, the 5G hype cycle has already begun despite no commercial deployment availability until at least 2020. Think 5 gigabyte-per-second download speeds vs. approximately 150 megabytes per second for 4G. That's fast enough to download an episode of "Breaking Bad" in four seconds instead of six minutes!
5G is considered key to the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the name given to the notion of tying just about every and anything into the Net. Billions of sensors will be built into appliances, security systems, health monitors, door locks, cars and wearables -- from smartwatches to dog collars. Analysts predict the number of networked devices will skyrocket from about 5 billion in 2015 to 25 billion by 2020. And in order to support those devices, the network needs to be infinitely faster and more stable, which is where 5G will really shine!
3) Mobile health is just getting started.
There was a lot of discussion around how mobile technology can connect patients to their providers in ways that encourage the most effective treatment of all: prevention. Imagine having high blood pressure and being able to send your readings to your doctor in real time via a wearable on your arm and your smart phone. If your blood pressure rose into the dangerous range, your doctor could respond immediately and potentially save your life before something bad happens.
4) Google has big wireless ambitions.
Google has no intentions of competing — in the technical sense at least — against the four big providers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Instead, Google is looking to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, a wireless provider that doesn't own its infrastructure, but instead leases it from an existing wireless carrier.
Its aim is to demonstrate technical innovations that existing carriers should adopt. For instance, Google wants to make calls seamlessly transition from cellular to Wi-Fi networks in areas where cellular coverage isn't particularly strong. And Google has a strong interest in promoting Wi-Fi access around the world and has several small-scale pilots where balloons and drones bring Wi-Fi access to remote parts of the world. I love this concept!
1) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Using Email to Drive Mobile Engagement – and Vice-Versa”
2) Blog: “Mobile Apps 2.0: Keys to Improving the Customer Experience”
3) Blog: “Getting Started with Mobile App Push Notifications”