Once again I’m on the sidelines for Mobile World Congress. It may be better this way, though. From here in Seattle, I’ll get a broader perspective on what’s happening, seeing the news unfold in greater context since I’ll have the benefit of watching it all bubble up from a distance. That said, I’m reliant upon many friends that have feet on the ground, who will get both first looks and hands on experiences. If you’re looking for a play-by-play, follow RemotelyMobile.
For my friends that don’t have the slightest idea what Mobile World Congress is, it’s the place where all the mobile thinkers and doers come to influence, strike deals and play. From network operators and carriers to device makers and app developers, the mobile industry is descending upon Barcelona today for the event, which opens on Feb. 27th, attracting more than 60,000 attendees, including roughly 12,000 developers, 3,000 industry CEOs from 130 countries and over 1,500 media outlets.
So, it’s sort of a big deal, and it’s where an amazing number of business deals are born. It isn’t just about quad-core phones, 4G networks, and other mobile devices. It’s also about supporting consumers with apps, software, and the cloud that keep us mere mortals connected.
With the theme “Redefining Mobile,” I’m expecting to see a gazillion new ways to use mobile devices to interact with other devices and streamline consumer experiences.
More Devices Face Off with Apple: Be it internet-connected phones, tablets or PCs, device makers will come out of the woodwork to try and take down Apple. Frankly, it’s a monumental task. Apple has had the market cornered on devices, but new tech innovations, more powerful components and new pricing models will give other vendors the opportunity to give Apple a run for the money this year. In fact, Apple shares have eroded with the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Nokia’s Lumia and the coming Windows 8 devices, not to mention how well Samsung has penetrated its marketshare. You can bet Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung to make considerable investments in this years’ MWC, priming the market for some very exciting devices expected to ship later this year.
Smart Devices: For years we’ve been inching closer to the promise of connected experiences across devices, and we saw a big jump forward at CES 2012 where smartphones acted as controllers for a variety of other devices: Smart TVs, home security, garage doors and even refrigerators. We’ll see even more of these scenarios at MWC. Innovative connected devices will be unveiled in Barcelona to manage and monitor your home or to consume an explosion of digital content.
Connected Vehicles: Wait…what? Yes, vehicles are becoming the latest “devices” to invest in these big technology shows. Ford, for instance, had a big showing at CES 2012 in January showing off its latest in-dash technology, SYNC, developed in partnership with Microsoft. Expect to see Ford and others at MWC again, sporting their play for the connected consumer’s mindshare with technology that strikes the right balance of safety, convenience and infotainment.
Advanced Apps: Technology innovations centered on faster processers, faster connection speeds and small but mighty devices are all culminating to advance a new class of applications that are delivering on the connected experiences dream. Mobile apps for shopping, media, healthcare and mobile in the enterprise are increasing efficiencies and improving productivity. Whether a client app or cloud app, MWC will be a breeding ground for app developers and startups looking for a break to get noticed. Though harder to find these gems, this is the part that really excites me, and I’ll be watching the folks like Venture Beat and others who are looking for the same gems
Infrastructure Advancements: The explosion of data driven by the use of our mobile devices has put a significant strain on the networks and infrastructures to support our increasingly mobile lifestyles. I would expect to see a number of announcements at Mobile World Congress from mobile networks and carriers to address the volume of streaming video, high-res images and documents that we share on a daily basis to stay connected and to keep the networks from breaking down.
Windows 8: Last but not least, we should expect some noise from Microsoft. Though no keynote this year, Microsoft is expected to offer the first Windows 8 consumer preview, which is likely to build a lot of excitement for the range of devices Windows 8 will support when it ships. Microsoft’s decision to preview Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress is a signal revealing how important mobility is to the Windows franchise, and we’re as likely to see Intel-based Ultrabook PCs as we are Windows 8 tablets running on ARM. Of course, we’ll see a range of Windows Phones, as well—notably Nokia phones and if we’re lucky the next version of Windows Phones, dubbed Tango, which will run on low-end devices, expanding its footprint into emerging markets.
This is just scraping the surface. We’ve been hearing industry buzz about Android, LG, HTC, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and many other device makers on what they’ll do for weeks. New tablets, new pones, new apps—there all expected at Mobile World Congress next week. But if you’re looking for a rundown of what specific devices will be unveiled, check out Engadget for a comprehensive list.
What are you most excited about?