Mobile World Congress 2013 – Observed trends

In 2013, MWC moved to a bigger venue with about 72,500 people sprawling the relatively modern, yet crowded halls of Fira Gran Via. The scale of the event is palpable when you walk the halls but here are some interesting figures:

  • A total of 202 countries were represented, with about 62% of the footfall from Europe and about 15% each from North America and APAC
  •  Spain, US and UK were the top 3 in terms of representation
  • 4300 CEOs, a 20% increase over 2012
  • The maximum number of attendees (20%) at MWC 2013 were from Emerging verticals such as Auto, Biotech, Education, Entertainment and Pharma, dismissing the common perception of being a pure telecom and networking event, and reaffirming the accelerating convergence of industries.
  • With more than 60 conference sessions and seminars covering topics like small cells, mobile money, nfc, mobile health, and business strategy, along with 271 eminent speakers from companies on the edge of a technology breakthrough, there is a huge scope for learning and networking.
  • Anything you do here cannot go unnoticed with about 3500 media and analyst personnel attending the show
  • Overall, I think it is a great platform for organizations to launch/showcase products, network and convert opportunities to business.

Some of the technology trends at MWC 2013:

Apparent dominance and power play showcase by Samsung with Apple, BlackBerry missing the show and Nokia missing the shine. Some of the noticeable trends were:

1. Alternate to Android

While Windows based mobiles are out in the market, there is a lot of push to find alternatives to Android, the most popular operating system. The first Firefox based mobile phone was launched. Some other alternatives (not in order)

  • Windows Mobile
  • QNX
  • iOS
  • Ubuntu
  • Tizen
  • Sailfish OS
  • Chrome (for tablets)

2. Enterprise Mobility

While there were a lot of handset manufacturers, a lot of push could be seen from OEMs and TSPs for Enterprise specific devices. OEMs were ready with devices customized to suit enterprise solutions; TSPs were ready with solutions for the enterprise market. There were a lot of companies offering applications and middleware for enterprise solutions needs like education, communication, security etc.

Some big announcements:

  • SAFE from Samsung
  • Knox from Samsung
  • Mobi Control from Soti
  • GD Secure from Open Kernel Labs
  • Other tools from – Airwatch, MobileIron, or Fixmo
  • Nokia Talking about Windows Enterprise Management tools

3. Missing Big Brothers

While I could see that almost all the organizations were back with bigger stalls – 2 big names were missing – Google, Microsoft. In addition, BlackBerry was also missing. While these companies did not invest in a stall at MWC, all of them seemed to have presence in Barcelona, holding meetings in private.

4. New Phones/Tablets

1. LG Optimus G pro

No surprise, no nonsense phone. It comes with some excellent features to compete with Galaxy Note-2. Qslide Function, record yourself, 13MP Camera, clean design with 5.5” screen

2. Sapphire: the unscratchable

Gorilla glass is history; GT advanced systems introduced Sapphire (hardest material on earth) based screens. Currently available with high end Vertu TI screen

3. Sony Xperia Tablet Z

Slim and fast. Completely waterproof with typical Sony Design powered by 1.5GHz quadcore snapdragon

4. Fujitsu Stylistic S01

Cool idea with a well-executed product! Just the right product for people looking for a traditional easy to use interface

5. Samsung Note 8”

‘Is it a phone/tablet?’ Curious looks and size – lot of things to show, popular with media. With signature S pen and voice enabled features

6. Grand Memo – from ZTE

Impressively slim, 5.7” Display, 13MP Camera, capable of capturing 1080pHD video with Snapdragon 800 series quadcore chipset. Dolby Digital Plus speakers in a handset for the first time. What can’t be missed is the 4S feature (ZTE Safe) – custom user interface for security, power settings, storage, etc.

7. ZTE Firefox Based Device

Launched with Telephonica – Comes with a 1GHz processor, 256MB ram, 3.6” multi touch, HVGA display but impressive performance. ZTE plans to be in the first 3 mobile brands with Firefox. The product would be launched in Columbia, Spain and Venezuela by summer

8. Asus Phonepad

7” tablet with voice calling features powered by Intel Atom and priced at $270

 9. HP Slate 7

HP is back – with WebOS powered touchpad and a 7” screen at a reasonable price. Not too packed on features

10. Yota Phone

1st Russian make available to look at


5. Dominating Handset Market

Chinese manufacturers still don’t have strong enough brands to draw global press to independent events, so they’ve driven a lot of product releases. Huawei, ZTE, and TCL are all maintaining their steady growth, especially in developing countries. What’s very noticeable is the absence of Indian OEMs at these global events.

6. Open API

Operators are now exposing API for network and device resources, with various language and protocol bindings. These allow creation of interfaces to the service infrastructure residing within existing networks and on devices. By deploying these programmable connections, service providers can increase their developer base, reduce time-to-market for new applications and services, and simplify wider deployment of existing applications and services.

There are 2 different set of APIs specifications available – one from OMA and another from GSMA.

Samsung’s wallet application is based on OpenAPI.

7. M2M – Partner play

M2M looks to be more of a partner play than anything else, with almost more of partner play than anything else, with almost every company (Qualcomm, Wipro, ZTE, etc) showcasing M2M solutions on someone else’ stack – this mostly points to the fact that no major standards are emerging in M2M and companies are wary of building their own stack here 

8. Software Companies shall be Telcos of the future

  1. Intersection of SDN and NFV (Network Function Virtualization)
    1. NFV does not depend on SDN but they are highly complimentary
    2. Shortest route to NFV is to design for cloud (Design for standard hardware first)
    3. It’s all about software running on top of platforms
  2. Platforms/Networks need to have Open APIs (one example is OneAPI from GSMA which is one step ahead than OMA)
    1. Will allow multi-operator apps to inter-operate
    2. GSMA has come up with Exchange Platform architecture for this
    3. One example is RCS through web APIs

9.  HTML5 becoming the de facto for business apps

  1. Zero footprint, scalability, support on diff devices and offline features are differentiating HTML5 from native apps
  2. Web apps programmed in HTML5 – Opportunity for operators to have control over smart phone value chain as they circulate on browsers – discard the proprietary apps stores 70/30 business model
  3. Click software did a session on this and the interest was evident by the no. of participants

10. Mobile Broadband is inevitable with new innovative services

  1. Half of all connections will be on 3G/4G by 2017
  2. Small cell and HetNet remained focal point of discussion
  3. LTE-Advanced was showcased by Ericsson; they also showed how LTE broadcast can save efficiency by 2.4 times
  4. Carrier Aggregation is a key feature due to spectrum limitations and diff geo issues/ policies still in the way; one example is the delay in Europe for allocation of 800 MHz band – also called digital dividend band
  5. Refarming of 1800 MHz band is looked at as a viable option considering government and regulatory body delays for allocation of new band
  6. Video continues to drive the growth on mobile BB traffic
  7. IMS Media Resource Function (MRF) shall need to be upgraded for RCS/webRTC kind of features which are gaining momentum and huge acceptance