Mobile World Congress: A Preview

What can we expect from next week’s Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this year in the copyright and technology arena?

I think it will be a physically quieter show for a variety of reasons.  It should also be a slightly lower key show in terms of product announcements etc., due to:

  • The continued emphasis in the industry is on cost cutting and infrastructure sharing to deliver returns; so we can expect announcements on deals, technology and products in that domain.
  • Investment houses are also encouraging operators to look at demergers to release value as “sum of the parts valuations” are greater than the whole. The effect of this is to consume management attention on these issues whilst having less focus on new products and services.
  • Both of these will lead to fewer attendees (cost cutting) and fewer/smaller exhibits offset by more conference time for discussions and debates.
  • Many corporates (large and SME’s) have told me that they either shan’t be attending or that their presence is scaled back.
  • Technology vendors continue to retrench in the face of quieter markets with the attendant culling of less certain projects.
  • The industry has majored on LTE (Long Term Evolution, also known as 4G) as a successor to GSM variants and derivatives, and relegated WiMax and WiFi to niche markets. DRM proposals for the GSM-ish world will quietly be abandoned as new architectures will be required for LTE.
  • The current emphasis on app stores will see increasing attention paid to copyright and technology issues. I expect a flurry of announcements here.
  • Mobile TV will also command more attention.
  • Gaming will also be more visible now that Intel has announced its dual core processors, which enable greater localized processing and content integration in the handset.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) and e-ticketing will also be showing progress, although innovative ideas are hampered by a somewhat reluctant partner ecosystem within which they have to work.
  • User experience will command greater attention as the industry fights to reduce churn.  Anything that smacks of making life difficult for users will be less successful in gaining traction
  • Monetization will also feature more as increasingly viable solutions proliferate into the market.
  • Social networking as a revenue driver will be featured, as will M2M and location based services.
  • I suspect there will be fewer new mass market consumer product announcements as vendors take other opportunities to differentiate their offerings from the crowded market against a backdrop of reduced market shares, offset by increased niche market products where differentiation can yield better margins.
  • And finally, I expect the increased patent litigations between players to occupy conversation time

I shan’t be attending this year – but of course the probability is that I could be wrong on many if not all of the above!

Bill Jones is CEO of Global Village Ltd.

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