By Dario Betti, CEO, Mobile Ecosystem Forum
Mobile World Congress took place, as a face-to-face event this year in Barcelona. So, what were the key take-aways from MWC?
Devices: go premium or stay home
The big announcements for new mobile devices have left MWC. Big brands prefer their own shows (Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi). Some brands did not take part (Sony). The mid-range device area (e.g. 250-450 Euro) is the hard one manufacturers are trying to escape. Realme, Xiami, Honor and more were keen to diversify upwards. The hot releases at MWC were new laptops, a transparent TV screen, and dog robots. For smartphones it seems branding is key, features and bill of material is secondary – not a good sign for long term innovations and sustainability.
Poco by Xiaomi was one of the few new releases at the show. Xiaomi is extending its devices upwards but still tries to hold to the medium high market where it grew from. The high-end version of the Poco phone is based on the Redmi Note11 Pro. For a fraction of the price users can get a remarkable phone. The premium brands should feel a bit uncomfortable now.
More contenders for the high-end market? Have you heard of Realme? You should. It might only be three years old, but the Chinese manufacturer is on a high. It is a brand of BBK Electronics, also known for Oppo, Vivo or OnePlus. At 750 euro its GT2 is a deserving challenger to premium phones. In 2021 Realme grew by 548% in Europe – it is worth keeping an eye on this brand.
Honor has been sold by Huawei, and the new management has decided to go looking for a higher market positioning phone by announcing the Magic4.
The real eye catcher: new laptops from Samsung and Nokia. Also worth noting is the TCL new Fold and Roll screen, not a flip phone but an extension screen.
Operators: regulatory compliance and technology evolution
The real news for the operator community was the development on OpenRAN and virtualisation. The appeal of these technologies is high, but problems were shown to be the cost of legacy system and integration. The technology is available, but not all can manage legacy system integration. The question is how to finance this or how to make it cheaper.
In terms of financing, some operators were horrified by the new cost GSMA reported; 600 US$ billion will be needed to deploy 5G and network optimisation in the years to 2025. Most operators we spoke with are not willing even to consider 6G unless a new source of revenue is clearly identified.
For new revenues, look at what edge computing is doing. There is real potential for mobile operators here, possibly in collaboration with hyperscalers. However, most of the stands were more metaverse inspired than edge enabled.
The Metaverse: the bad side of the ‘Hype-verse’
It was everywhere, yet it is nowhere. The metaverse is a great concept and one the industry needs to engage with. Disappointingly, there was too much vapourware at MWC; the numbers of companies truly working on something exciting on virtual reality and augmented reality were possibly a handful. The industry needs to stop playing the hype game. Some real innovators are finding it difficult to cut through the empty announcements.
The industry innovators: start up to the front stage.
Bringing the app and start-up world (the 4YFN event) and CPaaS/Payment to the main floor of the MWC event, was required in order to cover the big empty blocks – but, that said, it was also a great story. Innovators are needed in this industry and there are many. MEF will publish a list of companies that have raised the bar during MWC. Plus, there are the innovation winners of the Meffys – it’s worth a look at these names. https://mobileecosystemforum.com/2022/03/02/meffys-2022-winners-announced-announced-live-at-mwc/
MWC – small is better
A quick note to share the 2022 congress experience. It was lovely to be back. With 60,000 visitors this would be just over the 50% attendance level on the past years – yet this felt right. By a horrible accident, GSMA might have found that the future of this mega event is not on going bigger but on going sustainable. This was a great event, and part of its greatness was also how less crowded it was.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dario Betti is CEO of MEF (Mobile Ecosystem Forum) a global trade body established in 2000 and headquartered in the UK with members across the world. As the voice of the mobile ecosystem, it focuses on cross-industry best practices, anti-fraud and monetisation. The Forum provides its members with global and cross-sector platforms for networking, collaboration and advancing industry solutions.