MWC2018: Blood in the water, but still some innovation

Last month was the annual mobile (and I use that term in the loosest sense possible..) circus otherwise known as Mobile World Congress, which takes place in Barcelona, and turns a beautiful city into a nightmare of traffic, disillusioned people in expensive shoes, and this year, rainy and horrible weather. After processing for a bit, here are my 2c on the whole shebang.

In case you didn’t get it from the title and intro, I was not particularly engaged by this year’s congress. It seems I was not the only one who felt this way – Mike from Techcrunch wrote a good piece on it here. Aside from all the doom and gloom though, there were a few very cool things at the event (I mean, 85,000 people, there’s gotta be something going on, right?). My top two highlights were:

  • 5G moved from something everyone was talking about, to something you can see and play with. The best example of this that I saw was a robot in the Ericsson booth that was livestreaming audio and video back to CPH and video and control inputs back to BCN, with a round trip time of 6ms. This really demonstrates the potential of 5G well I think – imagine how it will impact rural medicine, for example, or other near-real-time tech it will enable. Exciting stuff.
  •  On the apps side, I was most impressed by the new Blackbox Platform from Redbox Mobile. It’s an app store search ads optimization tool, which seems to work pretty damn well (I took it for a spin for two of my clients, and both were impressed with the results). Time and more testing will tell more about what the quality of the users acquired through the tool is like (nothing to do specifically with Blackbox, but I’ve heard mixed reviews from marketers about Search Ad user quality), but Redbox seem to have put together a really strong contender in the search ads optimization space.

    Even if the show itself wasn’t particularly inspiring this year, one thing about MWC that is undeniably a great value add are the events that happen on the sidelines. MWC is such a big event that most of the industry shows up, and even if you can’t meet them in the halls, being able to have dinner or drinks is pretty great. Whether it’s private dinners, industry players throwing parties, or taking clients out for a drink, for me, the value of MWC is that it provides the opportunity for good face-to-face discussions. And despite the lack of “innovation” in the halls, that’s worth something.

    I probably missed a lot of great stuff (as you do when focussed on one hall of a 9 hall conference), but I didn’t hear a lot of great things about MWC this year. Regardless, as long as the industry keeps coming, being in Barcelona during MWC is going to be a good investment for mobile companies – whether you need a ticket to the conference is another questions altogether.

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