It’s no secret that if you have anything to do with the mobile market, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona is where you should be around February. This year I had plane tickets and hotel reservations, but eventually had to be elsewhere. Nevertheless, like everyone else, I followed the action and announcements closely, and got first impressions from my colleagues there, visiting the booths and showing off our mobile offering to potential customers.
It was clear that MWC 2011 would be all about Android. But it was a pleasure seeing that mobile video calling (or video chat, or video conferencing – you call it what you want) is regarded by everyone as the next step in calling evolution, at least if you judge by the number of demos, PRs and discussions in Barcelona. Seems like everyone had some kind of video calling demo, and operators were trying to show they too have some play in this market.
“How close are we to calling moving to video?”, the Post Gazette asked Tony Bates, Skype’s CEO, and he answered “We are getting a lot closer”. According to Bates, it is “a natural enhancement to current modes of communication, like instant messaging, e-mail and voice calling”.
And when every new smartphone has a high-quality front-facing camera and every tablet is marketed as an entertainment/communication center, it’s no surprise that video calling solutions got all the hype, even if in some cases it was much ado about nothing, and some were basically showing off video streaming or just proprietary point-to-point applications.
The Android stand at MWC. Photo: Augmented Event
What else went on in MWC this year? I already said Android was the big winner of the show, as one would have expected. Eric Schmidt, the (still) CEO of Google, said in his keynote that “Google embraces mobile”. And it’s clear that it is using the mobile market to push its vision of a “cloud infrastructure” to the masses.
For carriers this means a lot of potential but also a big threat. They want to provide the infrastructure (the bandwidth) for the Android revolution, but they also realize that Google and Apple are becoming THE service providers. It’s interesting to see what will be their game plan here, and if they will utilize the Android-Apps-Mobile Video triangle for their advantage.
4G, another interesting “trend” in MWC, is definitely something that they can use in that sense. 4G is the term generally used for next generation networks, such as HSPA+, WiMAX and LTE. It seems that all service providers were keen on introducing their “next generation” network, but it’s really not clear where exactly the market will go. In any case, I bet everyone would find what to do with those amazing bandwidths that these networks will allow.
Another trend worth mentioning is mobile processors going dual-core. Just like desktop processors before them, it seems that every chipset vendor has launched a dual core version around MWC. I expect multi-core to be next, and Android’s next update – V2.4 – will support multi-core applications. Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Broadcom and TI already have chipsets out there that increase processing power and allow smartphones to have better capabilities in terms of media processing.
Sign at the Ericsson/Sony Ericsson VIP-lounge. Photo: Augmented Event
Now that MWC is over, it’s interesting to see what will remain after the marketing fluff sinks and post-MWC deals start to see the light of day. I believe this is going to be a very interesting year in terms of all these trends, and I for one would keep tuned and keep you updated.