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The best of Mobile World Congress 2017

Last week we had the pleasure of exhibiting Fluid Ads at the 4YFN (4 Years From Now) Mobile World Congress hall in Barcelona

The event attracts a wide array of visitors, from entrepreneurs planning to release their first mobile app and VC’s looking to find the next big thing, to representatives from large MNCs and media agencies. I had never been before and really didn’t know what to expect.

It is a large gathering that occupies an incredible amount of real estate. Most people say it takes days to visit the halls and really get under the skin of it. I only had a few hours in between meetings to take a look around. Here is my whirlwind experience of MWC17:

Handsets galore

So, I know, it’s Mobile World Congress, and the clue should have been in the name. I expected the usual suspects; Samsung, HTC etc. I must admit I was surprised to see Blackberry and shocked by the of presence (size) of Nokia (yes, Nokia and Blackberry… yes, MWC 2017!). What really caught me off guard though was the number of handset manufacturers I had never heard of – which I’m sure are massively successful in their home countries.

Whatever you can connect to the internet

Mobile world congress isn’t just about handsets or apps anymore (I assume it once was). Now it’s about connectivity and whatever can be internet-enabled, specifically cars and cities. Almost every major car manufacturer was exhibiting their next generation connected cars. Some of the big trends (that I picked up on in my quick visit) were around 5G, self-driving/parking, and Tesla-style live software updates.

Virtual reality is the new real reality

Some of the most impressive (in stage presence) exhibits were around virtual reality. Samsung, for example had a massive installation that allowed people to experience virtual roller coasters and other fully immersive activities. SEAT offered a virtual car driving experience. While there is a lot of hype in this space, not everyone is ready for it, I believe the GiGA VR was responsible for producing a lot nauseous looking people.

The other typical, mundane, but necessary

Beyond the flashy fun stuff that gets big audiences, there were a lot more fundamental exhibitors. Mobile payments played a reasonable role in the show with the usual Mastercard and VISA suspects (not to take anything away from the other, perhaps less conventional, exhibitors). Security and network infrastructure vendors held a large presence at the show.

The show covers a very broad array of topics and attracts exhibitors and visitors from all around the world. If you’re planning to visit next year, my advice, know your primary objective, locate the vendors you must see in advance and be focussed so you’re able to really dig in deep.

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