25 Oct 2013

Mobile World Congress 2014: The Future of Mobile

Is the future mobile? Rapid advancements in mobile technology have changed the consumer and business spheres irrevocably. It has certainly transformed communication in ways we once never imagined.

Forty years on from the first mobile phone call on 3 April 1973 we have come a long way. Today, the mobile landscape is vast and immersive. We have wearable tech, mobile-driven smart sensors, new ways of making commerce payments, mobile marketing, apps that are driving innovation in security and healthcare.

Mobile has helped break down barriers between countries, leading to increased communication and interplay between people all over the world. Survey after survey shows that mobile penetration is increasing from country to country. And brands are increasingly realising that if they want to truly connect with their customers, then they need to go mobile.

Next year, the benefits, challenges and potential of mobile will take centre stage at Mobile World Congress 2014 – the industry’s leading event. Companies participating include Ericsson, Etisalat, Fujitsu, Google, HP, IBM and Microsoft.

Taking place in Barcelona, Spain, between February 24-27, Mobile World Congress 2014 brings together the industry’s thought leaders and tech firms to collaborate and share ideas for the future of one of the most exciting technologies in the world.

On the slate

A central theme of the event will be how established and emerging economies will start to share the same mobile space. As the mobile industry continues to diversify, how will the roles of these countries evolve, and with what impact?

A particular focus area for mobile is China. The world’s biggest market, which is undergoing a comprehensive process of re-industrialisation, has a burgeoning urban middle class which is driving its economy.

Mobile firms are targeting the country’s consumers through ‘budget’ models. Apple, for example, is rumoured to be pinning hopes that its recently announced cheaper iPhone 5C model could entice middle class Chinese consumers.

What does this mean for the industry? Will we see more link-ups between US, European and Chinese companies? If smartphone fever takes hold in China, what does it mean for firms’ marketing strategies?

And as China changes its focus from agriculture to technology and manufacturing, there are a plethora of successful Chinese tech firms – like Lenovo, HTC, Huawei and Reeko – who are driving innovation in the mobile sphere.

Earlier this month for example, telecoms equipment firm Huawei announced it would inject £125m in an R&D facility in the UK and Reeko, a social gaming firm, said it would open a base in London’s Tech City.

Will there be more Chinese tech companies next year? What growth strategies will these new start-ups need to employ to succeed? And will there be more deals being done between Chinese firms and their overseas counterparts?

Other topics up for discussion include:

  • Mobile identity and big data
  • Connected living
  • Data analytics
  • Intelligent networks
  • Mobile commerce and payments
  • Mobile identity and privacy

Keynote speakers

Speakers at Mobile World Congress 2014 include Daniel Hajj, the CEO of America Movil, Mats Granryd, president and CEO at Tele2, Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, and Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and CEO, Telenor Group.

“As always, the Mobile World Congress conference programme will establish a dialogue around the most pressing issues facing the mobile industry on a global basis,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSM Association, which organises the congress.

“The keynote speakers already confirmed for our 2014 event represent companies across the ever-expanding mobile ecosystem and from geographies around the world, offering attendees unique perspectives and insights into what’s shaping the future of mobile. We look forward to seeing these leaders take the stage in Barcelona.”

As mobile continues to evolve, shift and develop, big changes are likely to occur. The global playing field is becoming more democratic, and more firms are taking stakes in the mobile space.

What’s more, mobile has huge ramifications for the way companies market their products, the way people live their lives and the way businesses do business. As these dynamics start to work themselves out over the coming year, we could see mobile become the central channel through which we work, live and play. As a result we expect more brands to localise their mobile offering in 2014.

Big challenges, then. Bigger opportunities.


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