So, the dust has well and truly settled on another successful week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. MWC is one of the most anticipated trade shows in the world of technology and this year’s Barcelona event did not disappoint. With 107,000 attendees and 8 exhibition halls, MWC18 was a (huge and) fantastic opportunity to engage with our email customers and partners, as well as wander the halls to learn about emerging technologies that we might be able to tap into for our email hosting business.
Leaving aside the latest smartphones from Samsung, LG, Huawei, Sony and Nokia (I spotted a banana yellow 8110 from the latter manufacturer!), the following five themes dominated this year’s event…
Bigger, better, faster! That’s the promise being made and while we will have to wait (until at least next year) to see if some of these telecom carriers successfully bring 5G to the market, the items being showcased, coupled with the use of augmented reality headsets, were truly innovative.
Whilst the evolution of network technology is not new – we went through the same thing with 3G, 4G and we’ve talking about 5G for a few years now – what makes 5G unique is the ability for it to create network slices and this alone makes 5G exciting. The good news is that the wait is almost over and 5G looks to be a huge step forward.
Mind you, by the time the first 5G devices start shipping, we will probably already be discussing the merits of 6G and already wishing for 7G. : )
2. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT has been a theme of MWC for several years, with GSMA predicting that the market will be worth a staggering $1.8 trillion for mobile network operators by 2026. Everything from the kettle in your home to smart connected cities – is promising a bright utopian future for the consumer.
MWC showcased the latest and greatest in connected home, connected car and mobile IoT solutions from all the major players. A dazzling array of technology to feast your eyes on, but as a lover and early adopter of tech, all I could think of is… how much is this going to cost me?
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
So, I managed to stub my toe on a robot wandering the floors of hall 6. In my defence, it was tiny and I didn’t see it. Interestingly, it apologised for bumping into me, which was unexpected. Nevertheless, I don’t know what they’d been feeding it, but it weighed a ton!
As I limped away to explore the rest of the hall, what I discovered, if the numerous vendors are to be believed, is that AI and machine learning are the answer to all of our prayers. From uses in medicine and the cutting-edge treatment of patients, through to mobile operators deploying machine learning to manage network resources and (potentially) personalise the customer experience. The future is astounding and we’re only just understanding where this can take us. However if I ever hear the words, “Skynet becomes self-aware”, I’m running for the hills.
The big players were out in force. Symantec and McAfee were both present. But the best stand in my opinion belonged to Dark Trace.
Trust in a digital world is a given and with millions, if not billions at stake, the cybersecurity bandwagon rolls on unabated. The innovative solutions and new technology we’re coming out with is meaningless if it is flawed and vulnerable to attack. Endpoint protection, breach detection and cyber response services were all cybersecurity themes from this year’s show.
However this is a very confusing market and who you place your trust in to keep you safe can sometimes feel like a lottery. Do you go with an experienced, established player, whose technology feels outdated? Or do you opt for a shiny new startup with bleeding edge technology but without a longstanding track record?
As expected, most of the blockchain discussions at MWC were at a theoretical level. But several companies (namely Telefonica, Bubbletone and Dent Wireless) showcased some trials and/or potential applications for enterprise and consumer solutions. Use cases for blockchain technology are emerging in areas such as: securing IoT; underpinning supply-chain management; and storing data transactions between devices and the cloud.
If you thought Apple Pay was cool, wait ‘til you pay for your skinny caramel latte from your cryptocurrency wallet on your mobile phone.
Perhaps we might next year at MWC19?
MWC18 Official Recap
So, after four gruelling days of walking the exhibitions halls, my favourite stand was a guy at the back sitting by himself selling iPhone cases. Not sure he did much business, but it just goes to show that you meet all sorts at MWC – and sometimes it’s not the expensive robots that you need, it’s the product that matches your real-life business needs.
If you’re interested in reading the official GSMA MWC18 recap, the organiser’s 14-page official recap is available here.
If you missed the MWC telco conference this year, or you loved it so much that you want to sign up again, mark your diaries… the tech event is back in Barcelona next year, 25 – 28 February 2019.
(And given the colossal size of this year’s event, 2019 preparations are probably already underway!)