Before the keynote highlights which were published at www.onislam.net the following image is a selection of panoramic photos taken with the Sony Xperia T provided to us to experience NFC at MWC. If you click on the image it will open a full size collage that will run you through a visual of ‘a day at MWC.’
Franco Bernabe, Chairman of the GSMA, opened the conference keynote session projecting that by 2017, half of all connections will be objects, not just people; and that by 2016, there will be 1 billion NFC enabled mobile phones. Franco stressed the importance of understanding mobile security pointing out that people have on average 26 identities on-line but just 5 passwords.
Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA, spoke of how new internet players were challenging the established mobile eco-system and that for the existing players to remain relevant, something must change.
Randal Stephenson, AT&T Chairman & CEO, took a more holistic approach, observing that we’re at a new point in time where the 4G/LTE and the cloud are meeting, changing the mobile eco-system. In his own words, we are at ‘warp speed’. 3G he said, changed our industry, but 4G will change every industry.
Xi Guohua, Chairman of China Mobile, began by informing us that there were over 1.1 billion mobile phone users in China, and that between Jan and Dec 2012, mobile traffic had increased by 187%. Contrary to the traditional label of dumb pipe, he referred to 4G as being a smart pipe, sharing that by end of 2013, there will be more than 100 cities in China with 4G, and to keep an eye out for the internet of things and Machine-2-Machine communications.
Cesar Alierta, Executive Chairman & CEO of Telefonica, took this a step further observing that only 17% of people in his market have smartphones, and that the internet of things is creating a new opportunity. Cesar observed that the rules of the new digital world have not been written, and that customers trust is crucial for developing stronger relationships.
Vittorio Calao, CEO of Vodafone, poke on how operators must respond to the success of Skype and WhatsApp and in terms of mobile wallets, that financial institutions must work together to establish standards. In terms of services, he gave the example of being able to monitor how well a person drives, and how that will tie into their insurance premium. At first this may not appear to be welcoming, but the mobile service could then enhance and improve the person’s driving thus reducing their premium.
Rajeev Chand, MD of Rutberg & Company, opened the next keynote sharing a number of salient points, one of which was a quote from Vinod Khosla who said, that 80% of doctors would be replaced by technology, a controversial claim by any measure!
Kaoru Kato, President & CEO of NTT Docomo, shared that Docomo actually translates to ‘anywhere,’ placing emphasis on the new to create a new, enhanced eco-system, where the operator shifts from being a pipe provider to a value creator. Kaoru shared that there are 37 million NFC wallets in Japan with 1.5 million users, and more than $11 billion in mobile credit transitions.
Steve Girsky, Vice Chairman of GM, began in jest pointing out that the original mobile device was in fact the automobile. Steve touched on the different lifecycles between manufacturing a car and industry, stating that upcoming solutions would be device agnostic, suggesting that you would no longer need to buy a new car to benefit from the latest technological innovations as these would be upgradable.
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Foundation, shared that 70% of US adults track their heath. She screened a video clip with Eric Topol where he said that they were developing a sensor, smaller than a grain of sand, which can float in a person’s bloodstream. The nanosensor is so advanced that it picks up early signs of a heart attack and can warn a person within a 2 week window.
Paul Jacobs, Chairman & CEO of Qualcomm, shared that 84% of people cannot spend a day without their mobile phone and that 81% check their phones at least once an hour. Paul identified digital as the 6th sense with which to connect to the digital world. He projected that by 2020, there would be 24 billion connected devices.
Continuing the keynotes theme, day two was opened by Guy Zibi, Head of Research at Pyramid Research. Guy observed that with 80% living in the developing world, 90% of the next 2 billion connections will also be from the developing world, where the impact will be not just business but human.
Nasser Marafih, group CEO of Qtel, which has been rebranded as Oredoo, an Arabic word meaning, ‘I want,’ spoke of their massive growth from 1 to 90 million customers over 6 years. Still, just 13% in the Arab world are connected, and more importantly barriers exist in the Middle East North Africa region as 23% are illiterate. That is to say, how can products and services be developed for this segment.
Manoj Kohli, CEO of Bharti Airtel, outlined a five phase program, where phase 4 referred to everyone being on-line and phase 5 being services such as health, Machine-2-Machine, and education as being services delivered to everyone. Crucially he gave the example of already having brought on-line 450,000 of the 600,000 village in India. And he predicted that within 5 years, all phones will be smartphones.
Stepehn Elop, President & CEO of Nokia, adopted a strongly holistic approach, showing that there is a fundamental change taking place where in the physical world, to travel, a person needs a drivers license or a passport, but in the digital world, you simply need a number and you are now on-line, able to ‘travel’ anywhere. Stephen also touched on how for some the internet means platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. That is to say that there is a generation of people who have yet to discover the fuller potential of the internet.
Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, touched on the launch of the Firefox Operating System with 21 partners, marking a change to the way phones and services are perceived. Gary asked how just half a dozen companies could possibly serve the 6 billion people on earth? Showing that our differing needs require more personalised and relevant solutions. The theme Gary propagated is that the heart of everything is people, you and I.
Suk-Chae Lee, CEO of KT corporation observed that while his company by comparson to so many others was very small, that is exactly why they are at MWC, to share the learning curve and experience. In specific he touched on the virtual goods market which is estimated to be $192 billion by 2016. He observed that it was operators arrogance which led to the creativity and success of OTT services (such as Facebook), and that perhaps now the operators have understood the importance of an open platform, hence their support of Firefox OS.
Tolmon Marco, CEO of Viber, showed that price is not necessarily the reason for engagement, rather, it is innovation, a new way of doing things – and if that happens to be cheaper, all the better. His example was that of Monaco, where 90% of the population use Viber every day, this is despite Monaco telecom not charging for sending SMS. What the consumer seeks, is an experience.
Rene Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, observed that operators are expected to do more with less. He touched upon the idea of having a single price plan which covered all of your communication needs across multiple platforms. – Frankly a brilliant idea if it can ever take off!
Hans Vestberg, President & CEO of Ericsson, spoke on the importance of packaging – content and services, in a way that the consumer could identify and manage with ease. Moreover he touched on rethinking the roles members of the eco-system currently offer, delivering a more complimentary overall service.
In all the speakers spoke on the subject of the next billion, the developing world, and the eco-systems that would be required to deliver contextually relevant engagement, content and experiences to the global community. The message in short, what worked in the part should not necessarily be used as a framework for going forward. Rather, that the industry needs to rethink it’s position, it’s strategy, understand the services being delivered by OTT offerings and respond in a way that meets the growing and changing requirements of society, whether in the developed or developing world. And these can be no greater example of this than with the launch of the Firefox operating system for mobile phones.
Opening the third day of keynotes was Tom Wheeler, MD of Core Capital Partners. Tom spoke on how the consumer became untethered from their phone and now, with the cloud, how the consumer is becoming untethered from their files, giving the example of Dropbox who maintain over a billion files a day.
Joachim Horn, CTIO of Tele2, spoke next opining that the cloud is one of the few hypes in the industry which has substance. Joachim observed that operators have traditionally been too slow to change, giving the example of how they decided to update their HR system. After some study they discovered that it would take 1.5 years, however by using a cloud based solution, they were able to set it up within 6 weeks. Still, to transition to the new system it took 8 months, showing that the transition to the newer cloud based system itself would take time. Joachim also stressed the importance of not customising services, instead using existing standards to ensure that subsequent updates can be rolled out even faster.
Kevin Johnson, CEO of Juniper Networks, distinguished between a business and a consumer cloud, where the latter includes advertising, e-m-commerce and on-line media. Kevin provided a statistic showing that $31bn had been generated in the business cloud and that opportunities exist to avoid the ‘dumb pipe’ scenario, outlining three key areas to focus: security and trust, the delivery of faster services, and an enhanced user experience.
Susan Whiting, Vice Chair of Nielsen, stressed the importance of asking content creators what actions they want to engage the audience, and what the end deliverable of that engagement would be. Interestingly, a recent report showed than 1/3 of Chinese smartphone users actually increased their viewing of tv, despite watching tv on their mobile phones. Another interesting statistic, 70% of Indian smartphone users see a mobile advert once a week, which differs to once a day elsewhere, but crucially, smartphone users in developed markes are less likely to engage with the advert, whereas smartphone users in developing economies are more likely – quality over quantity.
Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu began with the example that last years Nexus would be the next years entry level smartphone, that is to say the rate at which the industry is evolving is fast. Mark stressed that while the cloud may be the engine through which to deliver services, it is the rich Graphical User Interface on a phone that makes for an engaging experience, retaining consumer interest.
Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox, continued this theme, observing that to the average person there is no cloud per se, rather, the consumer simply perceives the end deliverable. Drew gave the example of a man who had taken photos of his child from birth on his phone, only to one day accidentally put it in a washing machine and lose the photos. By coincidence he happened to enable the save to cloud feature and all of the photographs he thought he had lost, had in fact been saved in the cloud. thus the ease with which a device can connect becomes crucial to ensuring a rich experience and with 500m devices already connecting a day, the way the consumer will engage with cloud storage will continue to change.
Paul Gunning, CEO of Tribal DDB Worldwide, spoke of the importance of location, knowing where the consumer is, sending them the right message, at the right time at the right location. Amongst the examples Paul provided was to tempt the audience into a Big Mac (incidentally, one of the four congress restaurants, served burgers for lunch), where in France the consumer can order a burger on their phone and pick up up with ease.
Peter Bale, VP & GM Digital, CNN International, spoke of the importance of a human sound, a familiar association and the impact that has on the customer experience. Peter shared that 34% use CNN Mobile in the US, and that there had been a 222% increase in the usage of desktops and tablets through which to access the site; that is to say that while mobile has its place, other platforms are also being used to access their content. Adding further context Peter informing us that 43% of page views from Africa were on mobile, but that generally different devices would be used at different times of day, meaning that to optimise reach, content can be catered for the respective devices at the optimal times of day.
Nathan Eagle, CEO of Jana, outlined a quite remarkable project, the ability to reach and compensate 3.4 billion people in the developing world, instantly. Nathan explained how the developing world has a $200 billion spend, on relatively irrelevant traditional advertising and how using Jana, any number of people in any number of countries could be reached. One barrier Nathan observed was the comparative cost of engaging via mobile, where some would spend up to 10% of their daily wage to make calls and send SMSs. One of the many examples Nathan shared was a campaign in Indonesia which was designed to raise awareness of a yogurt brand, sales shot up by 27%. Another campaign in Vietnam, saw 20,000 engaged in 24 hours. The Jana initiative is thus a means of shifting engagement from Billboards which are ineffective to targeting consumers at the device level.
The two themes for today’s keynotes, operating in the cloud and mobile in media, delivered an educational realization: the consumer seeks choice, engagement and opportunity, expecting a seamless experience in the knowledge that data being provided and actioned upon is safe. The real message hitting home is that the growth rate and pace of opportunity has only just begun and that scope exists for a wide variety of new players to the market to compete with as well as work with the existing network operators when delivering services.
The final keynote session was opened by David Pringle, a freelance content consultant who began by posing the question of whether the ‘golden age’ of mobile is coming to a close as almost every smartphone looks alike. A genuine question given that walking through the exhibition hall, the newest, fastest and latest, devices look much the same.
Alex Dauchez, CEO of Deezer, a music streaming company, observed that success is only driven by innovation. When their service was launched, it became five times more successful than iTunes in their target market. Alex spoke of the distinction between people listening to music vs hearing music, but crucially, he touched on device segmentation – a different device for a different time of day delivering a different experience. Alex also shared a number of examples including one of a gym that had approached them to create a bespoke music program in-beat with a cardio exercise program. Deezer, he opined, is here to change the world of music.
Marc Dillon, CEO of Jolla, opined that ‘open’ is the new ecosystem, joking that any phone is ok, so long as its black. Jolla, is one of the new market entrants, here to shake up the industry. With a new operating system for phones, Sailfish, the objective is to redefine the mobile phone experience. Marc observed that innovation is about linking ideas together and that when consumers realise there is a choice available to them, things will change.
Chet Kapoor, CEO of Apigee, began with a definition of mobile: anything that computes and connects. The new world, he said, is a programmable world. Chet gave the example of how Walgreens, an American store, offered an upload to their site then print service. However, with 30% of photos being taken on smartphones, a service is now interconnected to Instagram where, printing of photos taken has been enabled through the Walgreens api. That is to say, you can take your photo on Instagram on your phone then print it directly at Walgreens without any complication. This, Chet observed, was an example of the interconnectivity of new ecosystems in the programmable world.
Dennis Crowley, Founder & CEO, Foursquare began with a great illustration of Foursquare check-ins while highlighting his love of maps. A theme throughout his talk, he spoke of the magical map in the Harry Potter movie which when opened up would tell you in real-time what was happening and where. Dennis’s passion to re-invent the map as we know it is being delivered through Foursquare creating ‘social’ maps. Amongst the deliverables to date include that 20% of those using their Explore feature, physically end up going to that same place. More interestingly for me however was the data collected from respective check-ins that allow Foursquare to inform retailers of who visits occasionally, who is a regular customer, who has stopped visiting, and then targeting campaigns specifically to the respective segment.
These keynotes, covering mobile as a platform for innovation, are evidence and examples of how new ideas and newer definitions of eco-systems are enabling change empowering both the consumer and the retailer. New value chains are being created along with new business models. Indeed, the upcoming years will be exciting for any who have the initiative to disrupt traditional methods of operation, not by virtue of simply being disruptive, rather, by virtue of offering the consumer choice. The more choice we have, the richer all of our experiences will be – and this is the message I will take away from MWC this year.
The Night Before
As Mobile World Congress moves to a new location in Barcelona the buzz and excitement surrounding the change has been felt by many amongst the press thanks to Sony, who have provided us a Xperia T phone with which to ‘xperience’ all things NFC.
Preloaded with credits along with credit on a mobile network, the device is literally plug and play, including having the wi-fi passwords activated. Along the route outside there rests a giant NFC board, simply tap your phone at any number of positions and you’ll either receive updated information or make a call to a restaurant, taxi, other. Before day 1 even begins, thanks to Sony, the start has been good.
That was until we arrived at the Huawei launch for the Ascend 2. Yet another great step as they deliver another of the world’s fastest phones. After the great opening with NFC, the Huawei press kit was embedded in a QR code which seemed a step backwards
The night before MWC begins, there is a foray of engagement as companies far and wide are showcased by two leading events, Showstoppers and Pepcom’s MobileFocus Global. To follow are a selection of companies delivering new and interesting solutions:
Sphero: A new concept gaming controller, using a ball, a sphere with which to connect to a device and play; this includes augmented reality gaming!
GoPro: The new Hero3 camera capable of recording at 4k, along with full control via a third party device such as a phone or tablet.
MHL: Showcased partner products including the MOGA gaming system and an HD tv adapter allowing you to play any video on an enabled tv.
Cygnett: A wide selection of camera cases including one made of carbon fiber
Olloclip: A 3-in-one attachment for the iphone delivering a fisheye, macro and wide-angled effect.
Looxcie: Wearable SD cameras along with an HD camera and a tough model (Vidcie), all of which can live stream to the internet. Best part, after the livestream, even across Facebook, the content is available to view as a video clip.
Device Renewal Forum: Who are announcing a standard to ensure that mobile phones have genuinely wiped their data before being sold onwards.
Immersion: Taking haptic technologies to the next level. They have a demo of various bouncing balls which could easily become a hit, if only they released it to the public!
P2i: Showed how their water repellent solution can be applied to a device, dunking and popular smartphone into a tub of water.
Zagg: Superb wooden headphones, adding to an existing portfolio of product.
Mad Catz: Gaming mice as you have not seen before, beautifully designed ergonomics.
NQMobile: Who confirmed that I am amongst the 50% of the popular who do not have any mobile security!
Tech21: Showcasing with the aid of orange goo, the ability to drop any device without damage when using a case with D30 Impact Material.
Xpal Power: External battery chargers for many devices with unique and practical designs.
Duracell: Wireless charging with a power mat, with the sense to include a wired option if so desired.
ExactTarget: A platform for marketers to reach audiences across multiple access points.
Maxthon: A browser I had never heard of, but one gaining a great deal of popularity on account of it’s improved speeds compared to existing market leaders.
These are of course just a selection of companies featured but they were amongst those that caught my eye. I look forward to the next few days, particularly the opportunity to experience NFC at MWC, though already my ‘new’ Samsung Galaxy S3 feels dated!