What to Expect at Mobile World Congress 2016
As an American living in Madrid and Europe for the last 20 years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and insights into the cultural nuances and the intricacies of business markets within each region. I’ve also attended every Mobile World Congress event (held in Barcelona). The question is, “Why will I attend MWC 2016, and why is it so important for my team at Sales Force Europe to be there?”
The theme for MWC this year is ‘Mobile is Everything,’ which is at once obvious and yet insightful too, as everything from advertising to enterprise apps, banking, SaaS, wearables, and the Internet of Things is being completely re-imagined due to the ubiquity and capabilities of mobile technology.
So what news can we expect to see at Mobile World Congress for 2016?
For anybody who has attended MWC before, you know that the significance of the event is not just the headline announcements that officially break at the show, but also the thousands of meetings and deals that happen in the cafes and bars and hotel lobbies throughout Barcelona that week. So we’ve been listening to the industry chatter and asking our insider friends what they think will be the main news topics. Here’s what I can tell you so far:
1. Obviously, there will be a slew of new product announcements from HTC, Samsung, LG, Lenovo/Motorola, Huawei, and every other mobile device maker. But Blackberry, in particular, was very quiet at CES Las Vegas so the word on the street is they’ll be announcing some new hardware at MWC 2016 – plus moving more of their other devices over to Android OS.
2. Speaking of Android, Google usually saves their big news for their own Google I/O conference later in the spring, so I don’t expect any major announcements from them at MWC. Microsoft could surprise us with a Surface-branded phone, and I’m placing bets that Qualcomm will want to announce some partnerships with wearables makers because, so far, Intel is having all the fun there.
3. On the topic of wearables, Sony called a press conference for Monday 22nd, and speculation on the street is that they will be finally updating their SmartWatch 3, which was launched in 2014 and is one of the oldest products in their line-up at the moment. I expect to see dozens of new sensors, and their accompanying mobile phone apps and cloud services, also.
4. MasterCard, PayPal and Stripe are all keynote speakers this year, so I expect to see several new announcements around mobile payments and mobile banking. We’ve seen industry reports in the financial sector predicting the demise of retail banking branches and even ATM machines as more people ‘deposit’ pictures of their paper checks and more money-transfer apps like Venmo and Square Cash and SnapCash side-line the banks altogether.
5. Lastly, I expect to see some exciting announcements from the automobile manufacturers about new ways to extend mobile phone capabilities safely into the car cabin. Re/code reporter Ina Fried predicted that cars will have their own cellular service within the next two years. Ford Motor Company, which already announced that they will build in 4G LTE connectivity into their 2017 model Ford Escape, will be keynoting at MWC 2016 so I’m looking forward to their new news.
For those of you who cannot make the trip to Barcelona, if you are in the U.S. / Silicon Valley area the Telecom Council offers annual de-brief meetings are where industry executives share what they saw and learned.
And I will come back to you after all the parties are over and tell you what happened.
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