Fewer handsets, more changing the world
This year’s MWC has seen a revolution of sorts, as the focus of the event has fundamentally shifted from the micro (new handsets and tablets) to the macro (how mobile can now positively impact our lives). The non-stop flow of gadget launches, phablets and smartphones was tapered slightly in favour of solutions that tap into the human condition.
Mobile was celebrated for how it could transform the world’s creaking energy grids, save billions by reducing inefficiencies in healthcare and help develop the city of the future. The connected home was heavily promoted, with the prevalence and convenience of apps and products now overwhelmingly pointing to a tipping point in the accessibility of the technology. There is a roundup of some of the best here.
These advances should not be confined to developed markets, and the conference this year was awash with products and seminars detailing how mobile technology can benefit emerging markets. Of course to bring these benefits to the entire world’s population, a number of hurdles need to be overcome. The price of mobile devices and services will need to be addressed to connect the next billion people. The launch of the Firefox OS was a key milestone in achieving this goal and Sony is the latest manufacturer to pledge its support in Barcelona for the open web operating system.
Underpinning each of these themes was machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, which emerged as one of the hottest topics at MWC this year. A fascinating report from the GSMA, announced at MWC, outlines how mobile will transform lives in the next five years, especially in the developing world. This will include saving one million lives in Africa and using M2M to feed over 40 million people in 2017.
Growth in the internet of things means the growth in devices connected to the internet is set to far outstrip even that of smartphones. Indeed, the GSMA report referenced above suggests that data revenues will exceed voice revenues for mobile operators around the world by 2018.
Of course, in amongst these genuinely world-changing announcements there was a cacophony of new devices unveiled. This guide will walk you through some of the best, including Nokia’s £13 feature phone and Sony’s excellent new tablet.
US and Europe: worlds apart
For decades, the balance of power in the telecoms industry was rooted firmly with European companies – Nokia, Ericsson, and Vodafone, the de facto rulers of the roost when it came to quality and innovation. But in recent years the tables have turned. US companies have come to the fore, with the likes of Google, Apple, and Verizon taking up the mantle. The US is now arguably the epicentre of the telecoms world, something that has been driven home by this year’s Congress. Indeed, American service providers are for example leading the way when it comes to implementing advanced social strategies, with our own recent Telesperience research showing that 82% of US providers are currently engaging customer for peer-to-peer support, compared to just 46% in EMEA. 27% are also using social media for crowdsourcing innovation, including AT&T and Verizon. While it’s not all doom and gloom for Europe – the likes of giffgaff and O2 are reaping the benefits of advanced social implementation - the message is clear: social holds the key to the future of the global telecoms industry. Only those who adopt innovative strategies will survive - so the stakes are high.
See you next year!
(PS: For those of you still wondering exactly what a “phablet” is, this gallery should give you some idea).
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Michael Paige is Lithium's director of corporate communications and leads the company's media relations strategy.
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