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The next emerging billion mobile internet users matter: Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Karan Mohla
3rd Mar 2015
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The recent Mobile World Congress saw 90,000 people descend on Barcelona for the biggest event in the corporate calendar globally. The event has really established itself as the standard flag bearer for all things mobile to anyone and everyone in the ecosystem.


Mobile-Internet

As a first time attendee, who was coming from India with a view on how mobile businesses should be looked at, the event itself confirmed known facts and beliefs but also established new perspectives on where global mobile is heading. Aside from the multiple phone launches, there were a few very notable highlights that stood out:

  • The next emerging billion mobile internet users matter -- even though we have heard this repeatedly in the last 12 months. But I detect not just sincerity but also perseverance on the belief of many in organisations such as Facebook and Google to make this a reality sooner than people expect. Mark Zuckerberg invited multiple carrier partners to share their experiences of Internet.org as part of his keynote address at the end of day one. These included Airtel Africa CEO Christian De Faria, Millicom SVP of operations Mario Zanotti, and GSMA Chairman and Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas.
  • Google is most likely to launch its own mobile network – in this it will be an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) who will not own any of the infrastructure but will partner with existing providers. For the company, the main emphasis remains on information, computing and communication. Several of their integrated platforms especially in communications are becoming true standalone independent businesses. Their own push for emerging markets via AndroidOne (low-cost high quality smartphones) has been tremendously successful. Mobile connectivity is an important focus area with Google having paid out $7B to mobile developers in 2014.
  • Connected devices and Internet of Things dominated most of the headlines and people expect this theme to become more dominant in 2015. Unequivocally, it is the one area that all speakers and participants expect to hear about the most at next year’s event.
  • Mobile entertainment is going to be become extremely tied to device, data and identity. One of the notable speakers was i.am, who has launched his own brand of mobile entertainment and wearables called i.am.plus. He said that this era will be defined as the time of Screenagers, which will be the age of the dominated screen mobile entertainment. For this, the combination of Identity and Data = Idadity, will determine the usage and proliferation of mobile entertainment and data over the next three to five years.
  • Advertising and marketing on the mobile are seeing various forces act and change the very way business is conducted in this segment. The advent of programmatic has democratised all forms of media consumption and advertising push with people still trying to figure out mobile programmatic strategy across mobile web and apps. Agencies will have to create value as emerging technologies such as programmatic come to the fore. Innovation in this field will largely come from how efficient programmatic platforms can make ad buying and media spends and where does this leave the agency role. Additionally, one of the other emerging themes is at the intersection of consumer data along with their connected lifestyle that will bring about the next wave of consumer mobile adoption.
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