The New Mobile Horizon – Mobile World Congress 2013


Every year at this time the build-up to the largest mobile technology show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), begins in earnest. Vendors start their product introduction cycles and journalists start publishing stories about what you can expect at MWC. As you might expect, much of the early publicity is about the new smartphones, tablets and other mobile technology the will be introduced.  A good example highlighting the expected announcements from Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and HTC can be found at CNET’s Predictions for MWC 2013. CNET is predicting that the major new features will be quad-core processors and 1080p HD screens.

While the mobile device world is certainly exciting, I’m also very interested to hear the keynote speeches and feature presentations about the emerging trends and existing challenges for mobile technology. Last year, the ‘connected car of the future’ received a great deal of visibility as did the increasing number of applications in the machine-to-machine space.  This year’s MWC is no different, and in my view, is really living up to its theme of The New Mobile Horizon.

At past shows, major topics included LTE rollout, mobile security, cloud services, operator monetization, spectrum and other implementation issues. While these issues continue to be broadly discussed, this year’s program includes a significant number of sessions on emerging technologies and application trends.  MWC activities of particular interest to me include:

  • The NFC Experience – the GSMA will showcase an integrated range of mobile Near Field Communications (NFC) services throughout the venue and city of Barcelona. NFC touch points will be abundant throughout the exhibition, providing those with NFC-enabled phones to ‘tap’ to gain instant access to information and various incentives. This should be fun and let attendees experience examples of emerging NFC applications.
  • In addition to keynote speeches on Vertical Disruption, the Future of Communications and Mobile as a Platform for Innovation, there are featured sessions on Brands Go Mobile, the Future of the City: Smarter Cities, Smarter Living, Mobile Identity, Retail Therapy: Enhancing the Shopping Experience, Future for the Home and Innovating for Global Health. All of these sessions (and many more) are focused on how mobile technology is reshaping our lives – indeed the New Mobile Horizon.  You can count on these sessions to also include discussions on how the mobile infrastructure will have to evolve to support this new horizon.

I think it is very interesting that the focus of the MWC conference is shift to be more user focused and with a bit less emphasis on vendors and operators. Attendees will be exposed to more of what all of those new smartphones and other mobile devices are going to be used for and what additional types of devices will start to show up ‘on the network.’