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Reflecting on Mobile World Congress 2014

by Jill Flett | 11th March 2014

By Alex Duncan – CEO of Openmind

The centerpiece of this year’s MWC was Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech. After lavishing $19 billion on OTT messaging provider WhatsApp, the industry was keen to understand what impact this deal will have on the ecosystem. Almost every conversation I heard started with “so, $19 billion…” However, for me the WhatsApp acquisition was a distraction from the real issue – how to expand the ecosystem to work more effectively to deliver consumers services to a growing wireless connected community.  It’s not just humans in this community now. We have cars, houses, and everything in those houses, wearables and just about anything that is connected to the internet.

Internet.org , a very worthwhile program being driven by Facebook, is about bringing the internet to two thirds of the world’s population that don’t have it. The subject of getting people online, and onto mobile, was a big theme of MWC and many companies launched initiatives aimed at emerging markets.

Mozzilla was one such company, launching a $25 smartphone at this year’s MWC.
Wearables, including competing offerings to Google and Next Generation fitness devices, with features such as OLED displays, heart rate monitors and lifelog functions, were also popular at this year’s MWC. Connected homes and cars also featured strongly. This increasing range of connected devices and machines must all work seamlessly –and mobile connectivity is the enabling element that ensures this happens.

Considering this, I find it interesting that there weren’t more conversations at the show around the apparatus that actually delivers crucial mobile connectivity. RCS is one such delivery tool. Perhaps, the fact it wasn’t so widely spoken about underlines that RCS has now taken a more established place in the market. The hype around it is over, the controversy is finished and now it is just a matter of service deployment. The world’s largest carrier by subscribers, China Mobile, announced at MWC that it is trialing RCS with a view to launching in 2015.

China Mobile’s move presents that operators are now realizing there is no other way to deliver mobile services to an ever more demanding, and expanding, base of wireless subscribers.

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