Our thoughts on Mobile World Congress 2015

By Alyson Edmunds mobility expert at Telefónica UK

Now I’ve had some time to let the dust settle on what was my first experience Mobile World Congress in Barcelona I’d like to share a few of my highlights.

The event’s mantra is ‘The Edge of Innovation – where possibilities are endless’. And the tech on show didn’t disappoint: from the exciting possibilities of smart cities connected by the Internet of Things to the downright wacky with the pizza ordering fridge magnet. There were four areas in particular that stood out for me.

Devices

There were some headline grabbing launches throughout the week, none bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge which won the GSMA’s ‘best new smartphone and tablet’. Along with the device came enhancements to Samsung’s Mobile Device Management solution Knox which firmly puts Samsung in the Enterprise business space.

Microsoft were also out in force demonstrating the Windows Phone 10 operating system. Although just a preview release it has some exciting new features for business. For example universal apps that look the same and sync across mobile and desktop instantly.

Blackberry continued with their commitment to develop devices aimed at the Enterprise market by unveiling the Leap smartphone. They also announced that they would offer ‘Experience Suites’ – to iOS, Android and Windows Phone handsets. The ‘suites’ will provide access to calendars, secure email, universal search, password management and virtual-keyboard tools.

Accessories 

The foldable keyboard from Microsoft was another stand out. Released in the UK this year it is the smallest, lightest keyboard I’ve seen. It folds like a wallet and best of all is universal across all operating systems. It uses bluetooth connectivity and has two toggle keys which allow you to switch instantly between two devices to type.

Lenovo had a great small projector on display and their inbuilt projector in their laptop & tablet was drawing a lot of crowds. Could the two end the awkwardness of the larger projectors and smartboards?

Also on show was a £99k iPhone case, it’s was made out of 47g of white gold and had 3178 diamonds encrusted. I somehow can’t see many people ordering that one through expenses.

Wearables: watches, fitness bands, fabrics

There were lots of new smartwatches announced in an apparent race to launch ahead of the highly anticipated Apple Watch. Huawei launched their beautiful Watch while LG announced the world’s first LTE smartwatch. The new Pebble Time was also there. Pebble are fast becoming a brand to be reckoned with having just secured a massive $17m of funding from Kickstarter. It was also good to see some of the traditional fashion houses bringing out smartwatches too from the brands such as Guess.

After seeing some of the apps being developed really I’m starting to see the potential for smartwatches. While in Barcelona I bought myself a fitness band which has a built in battery- so no charging required. To give you an idea of the scale of MWC in one day I did in excess of 20k steps.

But it wasn’t just futuristic timepieces that were stealing the show. There was some great wearable fabric on display.  Body worn sensors and cameras are driving exciting developments for both the sports and work wear markets. I also tried on a few pairs of wearable glasses and the apps they were demonstrating were pretty impressive. I particularly liked the real time translation and mapping apps. There were also some great blue collar apps that I could see entering the services industry.

The Internet of Things

Should really be called the Internet Of Everything. From sensors, to smart cities, providers really are looking to connect every aspect of your life. Connected cars didn’t disappoint either.  I saw some great innovation; from monitoring driver behaviour to using your mobile to unlock the door. I think the key for the IoT is in turning the vast amounts of information that will be available into meaningful and – most importantly – secure data. That’s the challenge but also the opportunity to businesses.

You might be able to tell that I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 days at the event which certainly lived up to its mantra of the ‘Edge of Innovation’.

Take a look at my Twitter feed for photos from the event @Alyfairburn.