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Beecham Research Review of Mobile World Congress 2017

MWC 2017

Review by Saverio Romeo, Principal Analyst at Beecham Research.

‘The importance of being real’

MWCs gone by have been full of dreams with attendees flying from one hall to the other on a magic carpet of unbelievable things to see and use. But the shows have too often fallen short when describing how these marvellous things would actually happen and work. The importance was the hype.

Thankfully, in the last two years, the community has realised that a Utopia is nice to dream of, but if you want to make it a reality you need to have the right infrastructure, the right integration of systems, the right policy and regulatory conditions and skilled people for securely building that Utopia. This years’ MWC stuck to this.

There have been strong moments of nostalgia, using history to build for the future. The enormous attention on LPWAN and 5G brings back the momentum on connectivity and related services as an essential infrastructure block for any vision of a Utopia, whether it be the world of low data applications or the world of connected cars and VR/AR. The return of Nokia and Blackberry resuming their history through “vintage” devices is another moment of reflection.

Nostalgia, if not taken to the extreme, invites you to think about the past, appreciate and understand the limits of the present and build the future, hopefully, in a better way. In the case of the MWC community, that is a good approach, especially when reflecting on unsolved issues such as; IoT platforms, business models for IoT solutions, system integrations, understanding the specific features of verticals, building the new skill sets for the IoT, and making clear that regulatory conditions will be increasingly relevant because the IoT will influence directly people through the transformation of contexts and spaces. I have had conversations on all of these and I see organisations prepared to discuss their approach alongside those issues. I saw these also in the Hall of Dreamers (Hall 8.0), the best Hall of all. Dreamers (AR/VR, AI, Graphene among others) are dreaming, but they are real because they know they have to be for making their dreams our dreams.

I liked this MWC. I liked the practical view of the business and technological context we are living in. I liked not having magic carpets, but, having extraordinary ideas thought with care and with a critical mind.

Review by David Parker, Senior Analyst at Beecham Research.

‘IoT permeating all aspects of business’

It was interesting to see companies whose business is 100% IoT were grouped in Hall 8.0. These ‘pure’ IoT players included the Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) providers of network technology and services, along with manufacturers of devices which connect to them. Until recently, cellular technology has been the dominant provider of M2M/IoT connectivity but for the cellular guys, the IoT is a relatively small part of their business, although their IoT offerings featured in all eight halls at the show.

Connecting things to the internet that are neither phones nor computers was a ubiquitous theme of MWC 2017, companies showing everything from grid level energy storage to the manufacturers of the new hybrid London taxi featured IoT technology as a key part of their offer. Monitoring temperatures, traffic flows, energy usage and knowing the location of assets are just some of the ways the IoT is permeating all aspects of business. IoT’s answer to the ‘glamour’ of the latest smart phone is to fly drones around. A personal summing up of MWC 2017 would be – ‘I have never seen so many drones’.

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