For anyone involved with mobile phones, networks or the IoT, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the place to be in February. Over four days, the industry reveals its latest and fanciest ideas in the ongoing evolution of mobile telephony. It is vast. This year around 2,300 companies were exhibiting, several with stands large enough to fit a passenger jet in; over 100,000 visitors were wandering around it, including senior politicians and royalty and the organising industry body – the GSMA (God Save Mobile Analysts) probably raked in around $100 million in revenue. Which is more than some of the sectors it is promoting will make this year.
It’s not a show famed for radical new technology. Unlike CES, which gives us technical wonders like the selfie stick, MWC is about gradual evolution. But that is gradual evolution of a very, very successful industry – one that likes to take the annual opportunity to convene in Barcelona and flaunt its success.
So what was new? For me, there were four things which stood out. That might feel minor, but when you’re trying to predict the future, it’s difficult to judge. These are the ripples and butterflies that could bring massive change. No-one in the industry thought SMS and messaging would take off. But they were happy to bet on WAP as the mobile internet, which only goes to prove you should never believe an analyst or futurologist. So here’s my choice of four things which took my fancy.