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?