Editor’s note: Jose continues recounting his adventures in Barcelona this week! In the second part of his series on Mobile World Congress 2014, Jose contemplates alternative mobile operating systems and mobile app engagement. Read part 1 on mobile hardware and conferences here.

Mobile World Congress - Jose loves Barcelona

Are Alternative Mobile Operating Systems Ready for Prime Time?

In addition to iOs, Android and Windows, alternative mobile operating systems are beginning to gain visibility. Three were highlighted at the Mobile World Congress:

Firefox OS

Firefox OS is battling it out as the most reliable alternative to Android and iOS. The last few months have seen the release of low-end devices under $100 in emerging markets. And Firefox OS came to MWC14 with more offerings for this sector. It seems they might have found their niche: emerging markets are theirs to conquer.

Mozilla is stepping firmly towards that goal: it announced a partnership with China-based chipset vendor Spreadtrum at MWC14 to deliver $25 smartphones. That would make it the cheapest handset on the market by far. Lowering the entry level of the global smartphone market can make Firefox grow from the bottom up.

Tizen

Because Tizen is Samsung’s attempt to gain independence from Google, Tizen OS has great potential being under the umbrella of the world biggest handset manufacturer.

Tizen OS is putting lots of effort towards launching reliable wearable products running exclusively on Tizen OS (Galaxy Gear, Gear 2 and Gear Fit). They’re also attracting developers to create a sustainable ecosystem of apps. There was a large dedicated Tizen stand in MWC14, where some developers were demoing their creations for Samsung’s mobile OS.

Ubuntu OS

The first devices that will officially run Ubuntu OS – formerly Ubuntu Touch – were demoed at the show.  These were through a partnership with Chinese and Spanish handset manufacturers Meizu and Bq, announced in time for MWC14.

GSMA Connected City: A glimpse of the future?

Tucked away to one side of Hall 3 was the GSMA Connected City.  Spanning the whole side of the large hall was a whole range of interactive demonstrations showing how cutting edge technology and connected solutions will become part of everyday life.

Mobile World Congress - GSMA Connected City

Showcased by AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, GSMA, KT, Vodafone and their partners, these demonstrations showed how their mobile technologies are powering economic growth and new business opportunities. Demos were in the areas of Education, Health Care, Identity and Security, Retail, Smart Cities and Industry, and Transport.

Mobile World Congress GSMA Connected City

Mobile Apps: Engagement, engagement, engagement

Like “location, location, location” is the mantra of the real estate industry, so is “engagement” for the mobile apps space.   One gigantic hall was dedicated to vendors in the mobile apps ecosystem.  Vendors spanned the gamut of games and gaming platforms, e-commerce and mobile payments, app development tools, app discovery “services”, mobile marketing and geo-location, advertising and ad-networks, SMS aggregators, network diagnostics , analytics,  and even an app for brewing beer (more on that later).

But the common thread across all these different vendors and technologies, is that mobile apps have value to both the end-user and the app owner – only if the app is being used.  And that is where engagement comes in.  The app owner has to get the user engaged with them – either through the utility the app itself delivers (for example, the ability to deposit a check for a banking app) or through some other value that the app provides (discount coupons that “magically” appears in the app while walking by a store).

With all the apps we have installed in our phones, it’s unlikely that we use all of the apps all the time, even when we perceive value in an app.  What brings us back to an app is an alert – a push notification telling us that something is new and to go check out the app.   Alerting users, as appropriate, through push notifications is what engages users and keeps them using the app.  And helping with mobile engagement is exactly what Momentum, our digital messaging platform (with push notifications) does.  So perhaps it might be a good idea for us to play with all the other vendors in this Hall at next year’s Congress!

Find out why the world’s biggest senders like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and PayPal are using Momentum in the webinar, Your Mobile Customer Is Ready To Engage – Are You?

Webinar: Your Mobile Customer is Ready to Engage. Are you?

Editor’s note: We sent our mobile marketing expert and Product Marketing Director, Jose Santa Ana out to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where he had a blast… and came home with a multi-part series on what’s new in mobile! Watch this space as we reveal Jose’s adventures in Barcelona over the next few weeks!

Mobile World Congress - HOLA
HOLA, Mobile World Congress 2014!

It’s been just over a week since Barcelona welcomed 80,000 attendees to Mobile World Congress 2014, and many a post has already been published recapping the record-breaking (in terms of attendance) event, but I thought I’d share my two cents anyway on the largest mobile event in the world today.

Needless to say, it was a huge event, spanning 8 huge halls full of auditoriums for conferences, exhibitors’ booths both large and small, meeting rooms, networking pavilions, and places to find nourishment and libations after exhausting yourself walking the enormous venue.  The event is so large, in fact, that it would clearly be impossible to cover everything in a single blog post – unless the post was War-and-Peace long.  So I’ll stick to what I think stood out the most at the congress (which already spans several posts):

Mobile hardware: As Ned Stark learned, no leader is safe

It’s clear from market share and sales figures that the mobile hardware market is still ruled by two big companies: Apple and Samsung. However, one wouldn’t think this from looking at the show floor.  First (as usual), Apple didn’t even bother to grace us with her presence.  And second, unlike in previous years when Samsung stood out above the rest, this year they seemed to be just another among many.

Mobile World Congress_Samsung
We’re sure Jose had a nice invigorating 8-exhibition-halls-long walk

The other mobile hardware vendors: Sony, LG, HTC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, Lenovo are moving ahead, taking slices of the pie, enhancing their offerings and gaining a foothold in the nascent wearables space. The product gap between leaders and followers is almost gone. They showed powerful devices at competitive prices with complete lineups that included smartphones, tablets, phablets, fitness wristbands and smartwatches.

Speaking of smartwatches, MWC14 has shown that smart wearables are here to stay. Some might even say wearables stole the show at MWC14.

Mobile World Congress Smartwatches
We’re already out and running to the stores for this beauty. Who says you need the gym to keep fit?

Wearables began as one of those innovations started by a few disrupting companies a couple of years ago (Pebble, Fitbit, Jawbone) and questioned by the rest. Today however, it seems they are flourishing over expectations. Almost all big handset manufacturers in MWC14 have included wearables in their lineup, mostly as wristband fitness trackers and smartwatches.

In fact, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit, unveiled at MWC14, was awarded as best-in-show gadget. Fitbit’s was also one of the most talked about devices at MWC14 because of its initiative #FitbitChallenge which o­ffered attendees the chance to experience the e­ffect of wearable technology.

Mobile World Congress - Soccer Players
Samsung’s moving into the wearables and fitness space. Jose’s hanging out with world famous soccer players. Everyone wins.

Conference Sessions: Now Playing Second Fiddle

Sessions where industry bigwigs and giant players talk about the state of the industry used to be the concept that drove the Congress.  However MWC today is more an opportunity to network: find partners and clients, unveil upcoming products and let the world know who you are and what your role is in the space.

Mobile World Congress Seminars
That huge screen would fit nicely in our home theatres!

So while there were still tons of scheduled keynotes and seminars with flashy titles aiming to explore interesting topics throughout the 4 days, Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote and Jan Koum’s speech captured the bulk of the attention. The recent Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook has been the biggest and most strategic market move involving mobile apps so far, so the whole world wanted to know what they had to say about it.

Mobile World Congress - Mark Zuckerberg & Jan Koum
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in conversation with The Facebook Effect author and analyst David Kirkpatrick, a past keynote speaker at our annual conference

Koum explained how his childhood dream of connecting people became a reality and announced that Whatsapp will finally support calls by the end of the spring 2014.  Zuckerberg focused on the potential of Whatsapp to get beyond 1 billion users and how successful Koum’s invention has already been at engaging people precisely where Facebook Messenger couldn’t reach. Zuckerberg also talked about the commitment big Internet companies like Facebook must make to bring connection and services to the emerging countries, though we all know the real motivation behind the acquisition – more users on his platform for marketers to target!

 

Up next week… mobile operating systems and a connected future at Mobile World Congress 2014! While you wait with bated breath, why not watch David Kirkpatrick and his take on how Message Systems’ clients are changing the way the world communicates.

 

Jose Santa Ana  and Julie Ask, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester team up to talk about mobile customer engagement in this free webinar. Are you ready to listen to what they have to say? We know that Your Mobile Customer Is Ready To Engage – Are You?

Webinar: Your Mobile Customer is Ready to Engage. Are you?