5 Things We Learned at Mobile World Congress

Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018
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By Craig Lodzinski
Chief Technologist for Emerging Technologies

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Last week marked one of the biggest conferences in the tech industry, Mobile World Congress, where well over 100,000 people descended on Barcelona, eager to see the latest announcements from the leading lights in mobility, and to collect android pin badges.

There's a lot to take in, from dancing robots to an unusual flurry of snow in the Catalan capital, so we've summarised the key points from four days of action into one simple article.

1. 5G is the next big thing

Everyone at MWC was talking about 5G, with the technology at the centre of displays, from Intel, Vodafone, Qualcomm, Huawei and more. The possibilities of 5G are extensive, and the development of ubiquitous high-speed, low latency communications is a key part in enabling smart cities, self-driving cars, next generation broadcasting and more. We're already seeing plans to use 5G as part of branch networks, SD-WAN and IoT networks. This year was all about infrastructure and planning, but things are moving fast, and by MWC 2019, we're expecting to see the first 5G capable phones and laptops.

2. Wearables are old news.

While more commonly showcased at CES or IFA, wearables have been showcased at MWC for the last few years. This year, however, they were very much a footnote, with limited new announcements, and little stand space devoted to them. While there were some interesting niche innovations, particularly in the health and wellbeing space, there was no sign of any mass market wearables to be decorating wrists anytime soon.

3. The Chinese are here to stay.

While the biggest draw of the show was the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, Huawei and ZTE both pulled in serious crowds. Huawei showcased the Matebook X Pro, a very impressive high-end Windows notebook, while ZTE launched the Blade v9, one of a slew of flagship phones with 18:9 displays seen at the show. But while both showed impressive consumer hardware, they also lined up a number of carrier deals. Much of the 5G infrastructure being deployed globally over the coming years will use technology from the big Chinese brands in order to deliver the next generation of connectivity to devices. This represents a new paradigm in IT globalisation, with organisations on all levels starting to look to a more globally aware view of procurement, going beyond the Silicon Valley incumbents.

4. Everything has AI in it now.

Smart phones, smart homes, smart speakers, smart everything. Whether hardware or software, nearly every new product had some form of AI or machine learning angle. Both consumer and enterprise products are leveraging AI and ML to improve performance and experience. Of course it goes without saying that AI will be an intrinsic part of 5G.

5. Digital solutions are increasingly complex.

Time was that the big tech companies would all claim to be a one-stop-shop, whether that was the case or not. More than ever, this year has marked increased collaboration, with big companies showcasing joint efforts and announcing new partnerships to bring about digital transformation. Combined with open frameworks and cross-party initiatives, many solutions on display relied on a broad combination of best of breed technologies. This trend goes beyond the mobility and carrier space, with organisations across the enterprise IT space including Microsoft, HPE and Intel all bringing collaborative solutions to the market in a variety of ways.

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With more than nine hundred companies exhibiting, it is hard to summarise the event with just a few points. Though 5G, AI and collaboration are the headline topics, there are hundreds more across a range of industries and echnologies. If you'd like to find out more about what was on offer, and what it means to your business, contact your Softcat account manager, reach out to us on social, or write your name in the remaining snow.

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