I attended this year Mobile World Congress (MWC) and I must admit I’m impressed: around 67,000 visitors from 205 countries could see what the 1,500 exhibitors had to show and the rest of the world was informed by the 3,500 journalists registered for the event. Being there in-situ is even more impacting than the numbers tell, as you can only grasp a small percentage of all that is going on at the show.
But I tried hard and besides fulfilling my duties as an exhibitor, I did have some time to visit other booths, stands and pavillions. I wanted to see what trends are coming in the mobile space, both in terms of devices as well as the underlying infrastructure. Here below are some of the consolidated thoughts:
- Mobility is not anymore mobile phones only. We are in phase 3 of the mobility revolution. At the begining, mobility was about mobile phones and the deployment of the networks that could offer coverage to the majority of the population. Then in the second wave, along came the smartphones , able to to much more than just talking. We are now in the next phase, where we have quad-core enabled smartphones, dual-screen smartphones, ultrabooks, tablets…All of them with enough power to do what you did 5 years ago with a tower-pc and sometimes even more. Mobility is here to stay and instead of shrinking the mobile phone to be more portable, we have shrunk the pc.
- From the smartphone to every device: I’m talking about Operating Systems. As users spend more time with their mobile devices than with their pc/mac, the OS will be redefined to match the interface and the operativity of those. Apple has started the migration with Lion, and Microsoft introduced at the MWC Windows 8, which goes the same way: make the computer OS looking like and working like the one you have in your mobile device. Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich closes the gap between smartphones and bigger-display devices like tablets and ultrabooks. It is a big shift in the UI paradigm where we’ve seen just the begining.
- Apps drive everything else. All demos of new devices I saw where not around the device itself, but about one or two really good applications and what you could achieve with them. The Samsung Galaxy Notes is a good example, where the demo was exclusively about the notes app. The bigger brother, with 10″ screen, was demoed using Adobe’s Photosop for mobile (included) and photo-editing in real time. Apps drive the hw development and reflect whether that is really powerful or not. At the end of the day, do users care about a phone having a quad-processor or a dual one? No. They care about whether they can play “need for speed” full screen fluidly. Apps also drive the decision to go for iOS, Android, RIM or Windows Phone, as the latest two dont have as much choice as the formers in terms of apps and so less growth in terms of devices sold.
- Windows Phone as the third in the list. No-one doubts Android will continue to be #1 in terms of market share of smartphones&tablets. Apple will be #2, thanks to both the Appstore and the ipad (yes, not the iphone but the ipad). Microsoft, in my opinion, will become 3rd displacing RIM. Some say it can even go to #2 but I doubt it, again because Apple has such a strong success with the iPad.
- Video everywhere: video communication is coming to the mobile devices and it will be a driver for 4G networks to be deployed by operators, much like Apps are a driver for manufacturers. I could see the first demos of video calls over 4G and, if the standard is done well, this could be true interoperability between devices and Operators in having video calls. Bye-bye video apps and closed solutions that dont allow to freely call everyone.
I’m sure I missed some other important trends as there was no time to see it all, test it all. Please do leave a comment on what other things you see hitting us from the mobile world.