Like every other year, Mobile World Congress 2017 dominated the mobile landscape as one of the largest trade shows on the planet. Alongside our chairman, Hugh Griffiths, who was attending to judge the GSMA best business app and the overall best app for 2016, I was lucky enough to be in attendance amongst the 100,000-strong audience in Barcelona, with visitors spanning from over 200 countries. Now that the dust has settled and I have regained the feeling in my feet from trudging the halls of Fira Gran Via, I thought it was the ideal time to give my thoughts on the event.
At this year’s Mobile World Congress, the front running launches came from big brand names including blackberry, LG and Huawei but it was the re-launch of the classic Nokia 3310 that in many ways stole the show. With regards to 5G, the talk beforehand from industry stalwarts like Mats Granryd, director-general of the industry body GSMA, was that at MWC “We will move away from being vague on the prospects of 5G this year to concrete proposals.” In truth, we are still some way off consumer 5G, however, 4.5g offering up to 1gbs/sec is coming soon!
On a grander scale, there were lots of cars, motorbikes and bikes with a focus on the future of autonomous and connected vehicles a key talking point. Many were interested in not only discussing how best to navigate the transition from manually driven cars to autonomous, but also the opportunities of infrastructure also using is technology, giving the propects of smart traffic lights that talk directly to your car.. From a technology standpoint, the advent of 5G is essential for connected cars as the speeds will allow real time comms between vehicles and other vehicles – enabling more and safer autonomous driving and also with infrastructure too, offering smart traffic lights and street lights etc.
From a smartphone perspective, the two big releases were missing, as the next iPhone and S8 are not expected until later in the year. Also, VR wasn’t as big feature in this year’s show, perhaps due to the fact that it is already endorsed in the market.
Amongst the many awards handed out at Mobile World Congress 2017, our very own Pocket App CEO Hugh Griffiths was responsible for judging the GSMA best business app and the overall best app for 2016. Salesforce was crowned with best business app for Salesforce 1, which is part of the Salesforce app cloud; a cloud-based platform that democratises rapid development, customisation and instant deployment of business apps on any mobile device.
The Salesforce 1 app is used by over 1.1 million people, across 150,000 business worldwide – catering to small, medium and large businesses alike. What is most impressive, Salesforce1 has already delivered substantial business results to companies across many industries. The best overall mobile app was won by Niantic Inc. for Pokémon Go – which can probably be considered the global phenomenon of 2016, partly due to the fact it was downloaded over 650 million times. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, players are challenged to ‘catch’ Pokémon out in the wilds of their local neighbourhood and the world around. There were even PokeStops and gyms in the exhibition centre. Other awards included best app for connected lifestyle, virtual reality, best video and most innovative – all of which had deserving winners.
As is also customary for the event, apart from the big unveilings and awards, the stands showcased some eccentric exhibitions – including the IBM futuristic art piece, which rose and fell in line with the tone of social media posts about Mobile World Congress. Huawei uncovered a futuristic sculpture that was covered in glued on mobile phones and Google created a pixelated forest, where the trees acted as pods in which to experience the virtual reality.
Mobile World Congress is certainly every techie’s dream – it reflects the total innovation of the industry and sets the pace for development throughout the year. But beyond that, it raises the bar for technology development over the coming years.
In fact, Mobile World Congress delivered 4 Years From Now (4YFN), which is a business platform for the startup community. 4YFN’s international start up event, held at Mobile World Congress in partnership with the GSMA, brought together the best mobile startups and entrepreneurs with investors, accelerators, incubators and corporations in the industry.
So, as per usual, Mobile World Congress was innovative and inspiring and we can’t wait to see what is in store for MWC 2018.