One of the most interesting aspects of the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) show each year is the keynote presentations. MWC attracts executives from globally recognized companies who provide their insights into the future directions and challenges of mobile communications. This year is no different, with speakers from AT&T, Deutsch Telekom, Facebook, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, MasterCard, Mozilla, Wikipedia and a host of others.
One of the first keynote sessions by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg created a lot of pre-show buzz and long lines of attendees queuing up to get into the session. Zuckerberg is typically a very interesting speaker and doesn’t hesitate to be controversial. In his session, he talked about Internet.org, a Facebook backed organization working to bring free access to some applications to people in emerging markets. The idea is that once introduced to these services, users will grow their internet usage and spend money on additional applications and services. In his talk, he acknowledged that “growing the Internet is expensive work” but also suggested that the carriers take a more active role in the organization to accelerate its availability.
However, some industry executives have been vocal about their concern that companies like Facebook (plus Google and others) exploit the (expensive) infrastructure that they put in place by deploying free applications (such as messaging) that cannibalize the carrier’s messaging revenue. Zuckerberg believes that carrier revenue is shifting away from voice and messaging towards more lucrative data plans and that Facebook (and others) actually drive more revenue to the carriers. There is certainly more to be said on this issue!
In another well attended presentation, Google’s Sundar Pichai (head of products such as Android and Chrome) spoke about Google’s goal to literally connect the world. Google is currently working on 3 connectivity projects: fibre-optic broadband (Starbucks is deploying this and it’s great), Loon and Titan. Loon uses weather balloons to provide internet signals and Titan uses drones. While this sounds like science fiction, Google has established some track record in making things happen.
Pinchai also discussed wearables, saying the “..there are a lot of use cases” for them and that there is much more to come from Android Wear (especially with the Apple Watch just around the corner!) He also mentioned that Google is getting into mobile payment systems with Android Pay, and API layer that allows anyone to build a payment service on Android. You get the idea that Google and Apple will fighting for market share in every major mobile sector.
On the automotive (i.e. intelligent car) front, Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn made several exciting predictions. He said that while driverless cars face huge regulatory hurdles, the autonomous car (one that makes recommendations and sometimes takes action) is just around the corner. Renault Nissan will introduce autonomous capabilities in 2016 (yes, next year) that will help drivers navigate traffic tie ups by sensing other vehicles and slow down or speed up accordingly. Cars that can actively make lane changes will happen in 2018. Ghosn believes that autonomous cars will take-off rather quickly. Not only will they be safer, but features such as the ability to sync with red lights and other vehicles, autonomous cars will have smoother rides and be waste less fuel.
And just to illustrate the wide range of keynote topics covered at MWC 2015, how about the “connect refrigerator!” BSH (Bosch Home Appliances) CEO Karsten Ottenberg said that next year will see a large number of kitchen devices using embedded technology for connection to the internet. Ottenberg said that they will introduce “connected fridge” this year and it will have two cameras inside that will allow owners to observe what it contains. Karsten went on to say that there is a great deal of focus on security because “BSH doesn’t want a washing machine or any other device to become infected with a virus.” Just imagine your connected appliance being taken over by a botnet and sending Spam (oops, I mean spam).
This year’s keynotes cover many topics, including security, government regulation and the open internet, privacy, your digital identity, the connected lifestyle, innovation, next generation technology (5G), the changing shape of the mobile industry and much more. Mobile World Live has video highlights of all the keynotes. Enjoy.