Skip to content

Musings on Mobile World Congress

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Monday, March 08, 2010

Earlier this month I – and thousands of my closest friends – attended Mobile World Congress, hosted by the GSMA, in Barcelona. It’s arguably the biggest mobile event each year, and 2010 was no exception. It grabbed the attention of media.

Here’s a great photo wrap-up, and some good news stories herehere and here. I spent some time visiting customers on the way home, so it’s taken me a while to reflect on the event. But I do have some observations…

Overall, compared to past years, although the Congress was compressed with fewer exhibitors, the general feeling was positive and upbeat. There were several key themes that I saw emerging. First was a big focus on applications. The App World was a showcase of applications that are finally filling the wireless data pipes of the operator. Interestingly a whopping 24 carriers and 4 device manufactures announced a global App store. It will be interesting to watch where that goes.

In our Mobile Money space, clearly the market momentum is behind mobile transactions. The next five years will mark major progress towards a global transaction network stitching mobile communication networks and financial networks together. It’s exciting to finally see people paying attention to what we’ve known for some time to be true.

4G was also big. It’s not just about antenna’s anymore, but interesting applications: Alcatel-Lucent’s 4G car was a big hit at the event. And it’s not about packing the car with DVD’s and movies for the kids, but video on demand with pay-as-you-go capabilities will be at your fingertips.

Another novel and interesting highlight – Eye-motion based phone control. A company called Docomo is working on an eye-motion based phone control that appeared to grab the attention of many people at the event. I’m not sure about the practical aspects of this application, but it ranks at the top of super-geeky things to see and try at MWC. Finally, it was impossible to miss the mobile O/S wars heating up for Smart Phones: everyone from Android, Window Mobile 7, Nokia MeeGo, Symbian, to Linux – But in my opinion, outside of RIM and Apple mobile operating systems, the rest simply aren’t smart enough yet.

What are your thoughts on the Mobile World Congress 2010 event?