Mobile World Congress 2016 took place in Barcelona. Read on for the highlights of the event.
Once upon a time there was a clear distinction between computing and mobile communication. Today, an understanding of the mobile telecommunications market is crucial for web designers, marketing managers and entrepreneurs alike. With 63% of the world’s population now having mobile connectivity, and the majority of web traffic channelled via mobile devices, events like Europe’s annual Mobile World Congress have become hugely significant.
Held every February, Mobile World Congress is the Geneva Motor Show of the mobile industry. This is where breakthroughs in 3D printing, apps and VR are debuted, alongside new handset launches. Over 2,200 companies attended this year’s event in Barcelona, with 100,000 attendees and thousands of journalists also present during this four-day exhibition. Key themes included new developments in the world of 5G, the latest security advances, and forthcoming additions to the burgeoning Internet of Things. The event included an awards ceremony – the Global Mobile Awards or Glomos – with saturation coverage of the 40 category winners broadcast on a live TV stream and reported in a daily newspaper.
With so many stories vying for attention, even seasoned journalists struggled to identify the most important aspects of this year’s Mobile World Congress. Nonetheless, a few topics do deserve mention:
- Mazda’s high-profile presence at the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) networking event underlined the motor industry’s belated adoption of mobile communications, from satellite-guided autonomous vehicles to smartphone integration with touchscreen dashboards. Ford also used this year’s MWC to announce their intention of moving away from being purely an automotive company, but rather trading as an auto and mobility company and a world-leader in connectivity and autonomous vehicles.
- While much of this year’s MWC focused on future technologies like Verizon’s testing of commercial 5G services, it was announced that one billion devices are now using 4G connections. By 2020, it’s estimated 4G will power a third of the world’s mobile connections, enabling a second age of dynamic websites to succeed today’s mobile-friendly bandwidth-minimizing portals.
- Fixed-lined communications will soon begin switching over to LTE Cat 16 networks, with Australian operator Telstra introducing 1Gb/s commercial services in three major cities later this year. Telstra will also trial a 5G network at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, although even commercial clients will have to wait until the next decade for access to 5G services.
- High-profile product launches included LG’s G5, whose modular design enables various attachments to be clipped on, and Huawei’s 12-inch MateBook phablet – powered by Windows 10 and including a detachable water-resistant keyboard.
- The long-anticipated advent of virtual reality has been nudged forwards by a partnership between Facebook and Samsung, with the latter’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge devices accompanied by a 360-degree camera. This could potentially upload VR video content directly to Facebook, resulting in fully immersive status updates.
- Samsung also announced that five million users have now adopted its mobile payment services which was launched in America and South Korea last year. The UK will receive Samsung Pay later this year, where it will compete with Apple Pay; integration with Transport for London’s travel cards is expected right from launch.
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