The Business of the Business at Mobile World Congress

The Business of the Business at Mobile World Congress

Event Review: The Business of the Business at MWC17

By Moshe Peterfreund, Director of Marketing, FTS

March 8, 2017

The madness of Mobile World Congress is over for another year and over 100,000 people will be grateful to be sat at their desks this week as they try to recover from lost sleep and aching feet.

But was all the effort worthwhile? What did the great and the good get up to this year in Barcelona?

Nokia Reborn

Will Mobile World Congress 2017 be seen as the watershed moment for the renewal of the Nokia brand?

Most years the excitement at the show is around the new handsets being launched and while some of the biggest excitement this year was about a handset, it wasn’t about a new one. The Nokia 3310 was relaunched this year in what is being seen as either an amazing marketing trick or a cynical view on the fact that smartphones are all now basically the same.

No News, Meetings Instead

Outside of the Nokia launch, many people have said that this year the big news was that there was no news. That may not be exactly true (or fair) on the industry, although it is true that we didn’t see the volume of announcements or new technology demonstrations that were must sees in the halls of Congress.

On top of that, the show didn’t seem to have the excitement in the halls that it has in previous years. The GSMA has announced another record year for visitor numbers. Yet, anecdotally no-one could really say whether the show felt busy or not. Different people had a different perspective as to the ‘mood’ around the show, based on the time of day, or the hall they were in, but there certainly wasn’t unanimous agreement that the show was busy and exciting.

However, that doesn’t mean that is was a bad show. There seemed to be more meeting rooms on stands this year and the people that were walking the halls were walking quicker and more determinedly. So maybe this year was a year of meetings, of business being done and slightly less news.

Of the news that there was, outside of handsets, it was broken down into the following main areas:

VR – Without handsets it was other gadgets which caught the eye and much of the excitement on the show floor was for the VR demos of roller coasters or the like.

5G – The launch of 5G is scheduled for 2020, but three years short of that there was a lot of conversation about it – here. This was the topic that dominated the network side of Congress.

IoT – Much of the 5G conversation was linked to conversations about IoT. Despite there not being many new phones that excited the show, nearly every major hardware player had a connected or wearable device on their stand. And of course we heard a wide variety of predictions of just how many connected devices there would be in the world over the next few years.

Missing News

One thing we were surprised to not see much of was the more about the commercial realities of the business – and especially about the crucial cog in the IoT wheel. It’s one thing having connected cars, or smart grids, or entertainment devices on your stand, but are you explaining (or do you even understand) how you monetize it? The device itself is one thing, but there is also an ecosystem of partners – all of whom need to be paid – that make the device ‘smart’. Only by understanding this ecosystem, adding value to it and monetizing it properly are you adding true value to the user.

If this was a year of business, then surely the business of the business still needs to be more widely discussed and innovated.


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