Content & Context – Mobile World Congress Isn’t Only About Mobile Phones Anymore

by James Andrews, Global Digital Consultant
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10. März 2017
Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona

From 27 Feb to 2 Mar 2017, the 2017 Mobile World Congress was held in Barcelona, Spain. It is the world's largest gathering for the mobile industry and includes companies from across the spectrum of hardware, software, data, media agencies, ad-tech, platforms and much more. 2017 was the largest MWC yet with over 3,000 exhibitors and 108,000 attendees. Here are some of the big conversation topics that were happening at #MWC2017:

1. Content and Context Marketing

Publishers and brands are embracing context marketing - understanding that mobile smartphones and devices present novel ways of delivering content and engaging with their audiences. They are turning to immersive experiences within the context of mobile - such as social live-broadcast video, but namely 360-degree video, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) - as ways to reengage with audiences that have been blocking ads and demonstrating shortened digital attention spans.

Mobile devices have taken the lead in allowing users to access these kinds of content with companies like Samsung providing hardware (mobile-connected Gear VR headsets and 360 cameras) and companies like Facebook and Google building the software tools to consume the content (panorama experiences in your mobile newsfeed).

2. 5G Mobile Networks

3G was all about smartphone connections. 4G was all about mobile internet data. 5G is about, well... everything. Not just mobile phones, but autonomous vehicles, smart cities & infrastructure, connected homes, and a huge growth of digital video; all of these 'things' will require massive amounts of data - and that bandwidth is the promise of 5G. It could be 30 to 50 times faster than today's 4G networks and is predicted to connect 1.1 billion devices, gadgets, cars, and more by 2025.

5G would enable speedy downloads of ultra-high-definition movies, remote maintenance of machinery in the field, long-distance surgery, widespread use of autonomous vehicles, and much more. Tech companies, mobile networks, and device manufacturers are all banding together to make 5G a reality by 2020.

3. IoT: Internet of Things

VR and 360-connected smartphones aren't the only stars of the 2017 Mobile World Congress. IoT refers to connected devices, other than computers and smartphones, which use the internet to operate. MWC had many devices on show from scales and heart monitors, to kitchen appliances and light fixtures, and watches to cars.

Experts believe that there will be over 25 billion IoT devices by 2025 - four devices for every person on the planet. All of this will be controlled on-the-go via your smartphone and will affect the way in which we lead our lives. The Mobile World Congress is no longer just about mobile phones, it's about connectivity and the devices and services which will connect our world in the future.

4. AI and the Digital Assistant

How can one keep track and control their Internet of Things? AI. Artificial Intelligence is spreading beyond Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana into people's homes and workplaces via new mobile devices and stationary hardware. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are in an all-out battle for supremacy with Samsung also announcing they are working on an AI assistant.

Connected speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo were only the beginning of the battle for next generation digital assistants. Google has rolled out their Assistant on all Android devices 6.0 or higher and Amazon Alexa will be installed on all Lenovo, Motorola and Huawei devices. Messaging app LINE announced plans to launch an AI assistant named Clova and a connected speaker called Wave. LINE also announced a partnership with Sony to create smartphones loaded with robust AI digital assistants.

5. Big Data for Social Good

The GSMA (the mobile association that runs the MWC) announced a new initiative to exploit big data capabilities of 16 of the world's largest mobile network operators to address crises such as epidemics and natural disasters. Anonymized mobile data shared by these participants can help support responses to these critical situations.

The initial operators will use common data feeds and algorithms to provide insight into human movement patterns, for example monitoring the flow of devices away from a war zone or disaster area so that public health organizations can respond effectively to target relief efforts or prevent disease from spreading among refugees. GSMA will enrich this movement info with third party data such as hospital admissions, death counts and weather data.

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