Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Mobile World Congress Day 1, first impressions

I know the drill by now. Drink as much coffee as I can. Avoid any cooked foodstuffs.  The Nokia stand has the best freebies.

These sage pieces of advice hold true at MWC 2014 and, while my brain is still on a caffeine high, I thought I’d jot down my impressions of day 1 at the FIRA.

One – there are a lot of cars

From ZTE to Telefonica to Qualcomm, everyone in the value chain has cars on their stand. TF win the cool stakes by having a Tesla Model S, which is an awesome piece of technology… but although automotive telematics is clearly a market that they all want to play in, no one is doing very much of substance.

Telefonica provide a SIM card for the Model S. Qualcomm were showing off a stereo system and sat nav processor; ZTE an extremely weak connected car app. What I take from this is that cars are carrying much more computing and connectivity than ever before (no shit) and no one in the telecoms value chain has figured out how to make money out of them.

Two – there are even more health apps

I’ll try and write a more in depth article about this area, but to summarise, everyone who was showing connected car was doing healthcare as well. There were gameified wi-fi toothbrushes, gameified post-surgery apps, gameified… you get the idea. Again, the takeaway is that there’s big money in health and welfare and the exact value capture mechanism is unknown…

Three – phone and tablet innovation nowhere to be seen

Sad to report that literally no piece of hardware here has excited me. Phones and tablets remain black (occasionally colourful) boxes. They’re a bit faster, a bit curvier and a bit cheaper – the price point of a decent full screen smart phone is down to $50. But that’s it. The category is exhausted from an excitement point of view and although it remains profitable, we need something else to kick the industry on to another level.

I haven’t found Blackberry yet. Or seen one. I’ll let you know when I do!

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