The return of the phone launch
In recent years the majority of mobile manufacturers have eschewed launching their flagship phones at Mobile World Congress in favour of their own marquee events.
This year’s event is set to buck that trend, with some of the biggest names in the sector set to surprise Barcelona with their latest hero handsets.
Chief among the announcements will likely be the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5. Samsung has sent out “Unpacked 5” invites teasing the unveil of the new phone on the Monday night at MWC. A report from G4 Games suggested the launch was brought forward sooner than anticipated because its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, failed to sell as many units as anticipated in the fourth quarter: shifting 3 to 4 million instead of the predicted 7 million.
Elsewhere Nokia – recently acquired by Microsoft – is rumoured to be announcing its first Android phone, there will be a number of low-end devices on show from LG and Huawei and ZTE are expected to announce updates to their current ranges.
Away from the traditional mobile handset launch, HTC is expected to be demoing three wearable device prototypes at the show.
Big data shifts to big trust
Analyst firm Ovum believes the conversations at the keynotes and launches will shift from the notion of big data to heralding a new era of “big trust”. Expect more director-level conversations about privacy issues, regulation and the real threat declines in trust from consumers can have on brands.
Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum, says big trust principles put people before analytics.
He adds: “This becomes a foundation for new trust-based services such as personal data vaults that enable the repatriation of data from companies and the government agencies. Customers get to see what ‘they’ve got on us’ and correct the data if it’s wrong. Customer control, verification and the curation of their own data increases its quality, making it more valuable to industry and to the customers themselves.”
The MWC conference halls on the Tuesday and Wednesday are set to be dominated with conversations about such issues, with speakers from YouTube, the Financial Times, Electronic Arts, Telefonica and Hotels.com set to lead the debate.
Brands take on mobile on their own
Mobile World Congress 2013 marked a number of lucrative partnerships between mobile companies and non-mobile companies (Ford/Spotify, Visa/Samsung Nokia/MakerBot to name but a few) as brands set out on their journeys to become mobile first.
This year more non-traditional mobile brands are set to go it alone. Major announcements are expected at the show from the likes of Ford, Unilever, Facebook and MasterCard, with brands using a mix of recently hired internal talent and acquired talent through the means of startup accelerators to develop their own unique mobile propositions.
Indeed, this year MWC organisers have opened up the event’s previous location at the Fira Montjuïc for a new programmed dubbed mPowered Industires that will feature a range of exhibits and conferences from brands across the health, marketing, advertising, media and travel sectors.
Expect more brands beyond handset makers, operators and other mobile technology companies to declare they are “mobile first” this year.