Mobile World Congress: The Bellwether for Emerging Mobile Trends

Barcelona recently hosted the mobile industry’s most important event: Mobile World Congress (MWC). Every year, numerous executive directors of telephone companies, producers, and suppliers from all over the world gather in Barcelona. Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Anaïs Ferrández (pictured below), marcom manager, Spain, Tradelab, shares her top insights from this year's show and explains why there is more to MWC than just the launch of the latest Samsung smartphone.

MWC is the annual location for the launch of many of the top smartphones, as well as a showcase for the hottest new trends in mobile. With the exception of Apple, all the big brands attended the annual trade fair this year. MWC housed innovations from all over the world, reflecting the elemental role of mobile in the lives of billions of people and the force behind every emerging innovation.

From A to Z, some of the year’s biggest trends in mobile technology were unveiled at the event. Below, Tradelab Programmatic Platform put together a list of the best and most important announcements for you.

1. The Next Generation: 5G chips

5G is fast approaching and it will deeply impact every industry around the world. Huawei announced its first 5G chip, which will allow the company’s mobile devices to access the next generation of cellular networks. The company claims that its Huawei Balong 5G01 chip is the first to support the new 3GPP standard for 5G networks, and that it can download data at 2.3Gbps. This new generation of cellular networks promises to be a considerable leap in speed beyond the current LTE networks that we have right now; but it will be a couple of years before we see widespread use.

Some experts are predicting that the progress being made in 5G could prove to be a setback for devices and many potential buyers could be tempted to postpone purchase of a new smartphone until 2019, when it is expected that 5G devices will hit the high-street.

2. Smart glasses, again?

After the embarrassing flop that was Google Glass, this latest development may shift opinion: glasses, which aren’t really a pair of glasses, but a hardware platform, are ready to be customised with any number of sensors and input methods, then marketed for sports use, for industrial applications, or even for daily wear. They come from a new company, Tooz, which is a joint venture between Zeiss and Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile. The glasses can support 5G connections, which don’t really exist yet, and technology is still in development to support better screens.

3. The Holy Samsung Galaxy S9 is here

Anaïs Ferrández, Marcom Manager, Spain, Tradelab

The South Korean tech giant officially unveiled its latest flagship smartphones under the motto, 'Do What Can’t Be Done'. However, the biggest headline was the S9, complete with headphone jack, unlike the iPhone X, Huawei Mate 10Pro, and Pixel 2. The S9 comes equipped with improved cameras, artificial intelligence-powered voice tools, and social media functions that are easier to deploy than previous offerings. New features include an automatic, super slow-motion camera setting, that is primed to show up on Instagram feeds soon, and software that turns selfies into instant emojis.

Users can also point the camera to translate a foreign-language sign – without having to swipe through menus or choose settings every time. Samsung also plans to boost smartphone accessories, such as wireless chargers and mobile docking stations, to allow smartphone features on desktop.

4. In the Loop: Artificial Intelligence

The wireless industry is betting that emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, can help create new products and fresh revenue streams, as traditional sales wane. There’s hope that AI can help make networks more efficient by more accurately predicting demand, and cut service costs by replacing human workers with chatbots.

Everyone is aware that artificial intelligence is impacting telecom. Telefónica, the Spanish multinational broadband and telecommunications provider, is putting a 'brain' in its network as it launches AI assistant, Aura, but it says it will need to transform and digitalise every part of the company to take advantage of the opportunity.

5. The Buzzword: Internet of Things

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to avoid terms like 'virtual and augmented reality', 'blockchain' or the 'Internet of Things' (IoT). Worldwide expenditure on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is expected to hit USD$17.8bn (£12.8bn) in 2018 – a 95% rise from last year, according to research firm IDC. The IoT garnered a lot of attention around core themes such as management, connectivity, and sensors that utilise computers at the edge of the network to make everything 'smart'. There is also a plethora of applications that can manage all these sensors, which are proliferating in the field. Digital transformation powered by IoT is also a core theme. Naturally, you can't talk IoT without mentioning big data and artificial intelligence. IoT security, and where blockchain fits in, were also at the forefront of MWC.

Digital is changing the world and so is mobile. MWC is the cornerstone of the mobile world. It focuses on the acceleration of innovation and entrepreneurship, digital transformation of industries, and empowerment in the use of digital technologies. It's an exciting perspective for the advertising world, where the programmatic ecosystem is waiting to be able to implement these emerging technologies to improve user experience. There’s nothing left but to wait until 2019 to know more.