From the moment you arrived at the World Mobile Congress 2016 in Barcelona you could read it everywhere: Mobile is everything. And maybe it is. It is now an intrinsic element in our everyday lives
Mobile has also a strong role to play in ad dressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals; an opportunity to shift the world onto the path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development.
N. Peter Kramer
Mobile networks keep us in touch with friends and family, stay on top of work, improve our fitness, monitor our health, manage our homes, conduct financial transactions, and much more. And what is to come next?
It is hard to believe that 2016 marks 25 years since the launch of the first 2G network and the first mobile phone call. Mobile has transformed the world since then. Mobile is about more than technology; it is about people, society, services and … connecting! Nowadays the mobile industry is a major contributor in driving growth and creating new economic opportunities. The industry generated $3.1 trillion in economic value in 2015; 4,2% of global GDP; and employed 31 million men and women, directly and indirectly.
The progress made in the last 25 years is enormous, but there is still much to do. For instance improving the affordability of mobile services and extending network coverage to rural areas is a particular challenge, given the high level of poverty and the large proportion of the population living in rural and remote areas. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pointed to this in Barcelona: ‘we need to finish the job of internet access’; he said and explained again the meaning of Internet.org, a Facebook initiative to connect the world population.
There is also a gender dimension to the connectivity gap, as it is estimated that 200 million fewer women than men own mobile phones in low- and middle income groups. Mobile has also a strong role to play in ad dressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals; an opportunity to shift the world onto the path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development.
What was new at the Mobile World Congress 2016?
A small selection of the plethora of launches and presentations in Barcelona.
SAMSUNG staked its claims on the smartphone crown, unveiling its flagship smartphones Galaxy S& and Galaxy S7 Edge. The new devices offer ‘refined design’ and ‘the first Dual Pixel camera on a smartphone’ delivering brighter and sharper images even in low light; a faster shutter speed and more accurate autofocus. The devices will be available from mid-March 2016.
GSMA announced the launch of a new industry initiative designed to accelerate the availability of Rich Communications Services (RSC). The move will enable an open, consistent, and globally interoperable messaging service across Android services.
LG Electronics gave its flagship G5 smartphone a big push; a launch that the South Korean vendor hopes will put it back in the top bracket of smartphone vendors. A key feature is the device ’full-metal unibody, which co-exists with a removable battery. ‘This is the most exciting new phone that you will see at MWC’, exaggerated the LG Chief, given other prominent launches notably the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Huawei launched Mate-Book, a ‘two-in-one device’ that it said combines ‘the mobility of a smartphone with the power and productivity of a laptop and is targeted at enterprise rather than consumer buyers. Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu said the device will ‘redefine the new style of business – connected computing across all devices in almost every scenario’. ‘The device seamlessly integrates mobility, high efficiency, work and entertainment’, the company said during a press conference.
Sony Mobile unveiled its latest additions to the Xperia smartphone line, called Xperia X, alongside a number of products designed to change the way users interact with technology. The company said the X line ‘embodies Sony Mobile’s new brand vison through adding new layers of intelligent technology across popular and acclaimed Xperia features: camera, battery and design’. ‘There is still more we can do’, Hiroki Totki, Sony Mobile Head, said. ‘But do you really need smartphones full of additional functions you never use?’.