Digesting Mobile World Congress 2014: Six Key Themes and Two Future Scenarios

10 03 2014

It’s been a while since we attended Mobile World Congress and whilst we have perhaps missed the buzz, we have not missed the sore feet from walking around those huge halls.

We are therefore grateful to, and warmly welcome Richard Arthur, Telecom guru and Head Communications & Media Solutions Enablement at HP, for this fascinating “guest post” on his visit to this year’s Mobile World Congress 214:-

A record breaking eighty-five thousand people attended this year’s Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona Spain.   Many of us who were there are still digesting the cornucopia of booths, seminars, parties, and the one too many tapas and Rioja we all had.

Here’s my round-up of the highlights from the show; also linked my video: a smorgasbord of show floor highlights.

Use this link to watch Richard’s High Speed Review Video of Mobile World Congress 2014: http://vimeo.com/88625618

1.     Face time with Facebook

One of the most talked about keynotes was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who took the stage and justified the $19B WhatsApp purchase.  Meanwhile also at the show, WhatsApp announced a voice service on top of their popular messaging.   Zuckerberg also touted a free internet for developing nations initiative which caused much lively debate.  Shortly after the show, Facebook announced the purchase of drone company Titan Aerospace for $60B to support just such an initiative.

 2.     Wearable tech yes… fashionable?

As is usual, mobile devices were the most visible new announcements at the show.   Wearable tech adorned many booths, although less of the Google garb then we might have expected.  Samsung’s curved OLED watch shone brightly and surprised with a Tizen Operating system.   Companies both big:   Huawei, Sony, Motorola, and small:  GoPro,  Fitbit, and Byonym went wearable.

On the Smartphone side, Samsung Galaxy 5 was the most hotly anticipated launch.   However many reviewers and the GSMA preferred others.   HTC One rang up “Best Smartphone” and, impressively the Xperia Z2 shoots 4K video.   I liked the LG flex’s ability to make like Gumby while still featuring a great display. Nokia surprised with the X low end Android phone announcements:  a new tone for Nokia in the run up to their Microsoft acquisition.  HP announced new business tablets and showed off our  Slate 6 phone tablet now available worldwide.   On the Slate 6 CNET said “The overall fit and finish is excellent given the price range, and with dual SIM support it would be easy to see this new line building a fan base.”

3.     Network Function Virtualization made real

As has been the case recently, network infrastructure announcements were less visible at the show.  However, the major equipment providers and infrastructure vendors did make a series of announcements.   Multiple companies launched Network Function Virtualization initiatives.  If you haven’t heard of NFV, I recommend you check out the latest White paper from ETSI on the subject.  This new approach to telecom infrastructure has the potential to revolutionize the network with huge Capex and Opex savings as well as dramatically improving innovation potential in Communications Service Providers.

HP announced the HP OpenNFV program at MWC which included a new organization in HP, architecture and set of newly launched products, plus a partner and lab program.   It featured seven of the nine ETSI defined NFV use cases in live demos on its booth.    LightReading summarized the HP announcement concluding that HP’s breadth and partner program are key NFV differentiators.

 4.     Headline “No News on 5G”

In the network core, vendors traded opposing 5G views, meaning no consistent definition exists yet, however many approaches to improving 4G and WiFi were demonstrated.   LTE Advanced featured in many vendors and some service providers’ show participation.  LTE-A’s main attractions are support for highly variable network topologies including Pico and Femtocells, and aggregation of multiple carriers (frequency bands) to provide much higher potential bandwidth.

5.     Driving the Connected City

GSMA’s connected city program drove a number of “car-as-mobile-device” launches, including Ford’s high profile launch of the new Ford Focus.    This was quite a coup (not a “Coupe”) for Mobile World as the Geneva Motor Show follows only one week later.  HP’s own Jeff Edlund, with Telsta’s Hugh Bradlow, spoke on Smart Cities and how they can be achieved today.

In some of the smaller booths some cool, if not necessarily ready for primetime, innovations could be found.   I particularly liked the “Brewbot” smartphone-controlled personal brewery and “Joseph” the ceramic Bluetooth speaker which can also be a planter or aperitif dish.

6.     Whither the Smartphone OS?

I dutifully made the rounds to catch up on the Smartphone Operating System trends.    I was disappointed to see that Firefox and Ubuntu, as well as Tizen, all big features of last year’s show, still cannot show significant market penetration.  This is a testament to the ongoing strength of OS market leaders Android and IOS.

img_1742.jpgOne day, in the not too distant future…

As always, the GSMA sets out to showcase the technologies, products and services that are shaping the future of the mobile industry at Mobile World Congress.   In closing this report, I leave you with the following scenarios gestated during a sleep deprived and cramped flight home:

In scenario one, Facebook provides free internet to the unconnected masses via drones while Google launches balloons that carry Wi-Fi to places still unconnected.    These brands become bigger than any telecom brand to communications customers in the developing world.

Scenario two hits a bit closer to home and plays out in real time:

Glance at smart watch – beer time.   Tap to connect to Brewbot and verify via smartphone that beer is proper temperature.   Command connected car to retrieve beer and deliver to friend’s house, where chips and dip are waiting in the Bluetooth speakers playing Smartphone DJ mixed music…. 

Oh and don’t forget the Tapas by app.

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Rich ArthurEnjoyed this guest blog?

You can follow Richard on his Twitter account:  @RArthurTelecom

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Mobile Operator’s Opportunity: A slice of the cloud service revenue

20 09 2010

What is the market opportunity for operators wanting a piece of cloud services? We all know Cloud is growing and growing fast. All parties are in agreement, revenue is going one way – up!

Research companies are having a field day with Cloud market figures – we have market estimates from Gartner, IDC, Analysys Mason and others as well as leading cloud vendors. Figures can mislead as there can be huge differences as research is not always measuring apples to apples. Nevertheless, Analysys Mason, quoted in August 2010 that the global cloud computing market is set to grow to USD35.6 billion by 2015. So whether you’re a service provider/mobile operator, IT vendor or partner, enterprise cloud services are an opportunity not to miss.

Informa’s recent report add that the “mobile cloud” is set to increase from 42.8 million consumers in 2008 to almost a billion by 2014, jumping from 1.1%to 19% of all mobile phone subscribers. This scale of growth of what is being called, the “mobile cloud”, will force competitors to not only open dialogue but also work together. For those who fail to move quickly or identify how to monetise key services will face declining revenue and stagnant growth whilst other reap the profit.

This challenge has huge ramifications for the entire mobile ecosystem, changing the way that developers build apps and how OEMs, ISPs and Operators define app selection and distribution.

It was these topics and more that brought together operators from Turkey, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, France, Germany, UK and beyond as well as industry vendors (from Japan, USA etc) and one or two enterprise businesses to attend Informa’s kick off new event, Cloud Mobility Amsterdam 2010.

Initial attendance figures looked disappointing – was the topic so new and hot that few had heard about it, or was the term so vague as to miss the key audience it was targeting? Nonetheless, an interesting range of conference speakers had been attracted to present on topics ranging from enterprise SaaS, Mobility applications, to infrastructure services and case studies.

Event sponsor, HP, started the conference with an interesting keynote featuring Enterprise Mobility with Cloud services from both an operator and enterprise viewpoint. The presentation was billed as a “Mobile Operator Primer“, explaining the opportunity for Operators to aggregate enterprise mobility services to provide a single contact point for customers.

A cloud case study based on an implementation at SFR described the target market and structure of the Cloud services recently launched by this French operator. Proof that cloud implementations are taking off.

Catchmedia revealed an interesting new concept using cloud for their recently launched service Play AnywhereTM. Offering consumers the ability to access their content (music, games, films) on any device and vendor of their choice. While Vodafone described mobile app ecosystems.

An interesting dilemma thrown open during the event’s debate was the issues over new legal implications and considerations for the mobile cloud. Where does your data sleep at night? As content crosses boundaries around the world one needs to be mindful of data protection and other legal issues. An interesting viewpoint on these and other matters of law was presented by Stephen Ridgway from international lawyer group: DentonWildeSapte.

Some presenters lost credibility by making pure product pitches and thus losing a golden opportunity to show their leadership role in what is no doubt an up-coming “hot topic”.

The takeaway conclusion appeared to be that mobile operators have a great opportunity to grab – if they are quick and identify some killer app/services to grow revenue.

Cloud Vision’s Editor, Mike Knuckey chaired one panel debate on making the case for hybrid cloud: are we moving integration and management challenges off the network and into the cloud? This panel included viewpoint from Juniper research’s Dr Windsor Holden who added his cloud-based mobile apps prediction. Total market for cloud-based applications is expected to rise from must over $400 million – figure from 2009 – to nearly $9 Billion by 2014 – making an average annual increase of 88%!

For those who missed this conference, catch an extended version of the HP keynote, including Cloud mobility services examples. Watch Cloud Vision’s interview with Richard Arthur, Director Business Transformation Marketing, HP discussing their joint upcoming webinar on Enterprise Mobility through Services in the Cloud: A Mobile Operator’s Guide. This webinar will be moderated by Patrick Kelly, Research Director, Analysys Mason with HP Cloud Experts: Colin I’Anson and Richard Arthur.

Cloud Vision’s Webinar – Inside the cloud series – took place on 23 Sept 2010 – you can download the recording here LINK