Starting off the annual Mobile World Congress 2016 gathering in Barcelona on Monday with a strike by the metro workers was not the best omen. However, the enthusiasm of 100,000 people was too strong and powerful for the event to be overshadowed by anything. Mobile Everything is the theme for this year’s event and nothing could be more true; everywhere you see, anywhere you go, everything is mobile.
Beyond the now-normal launch of the next-generation of phones and gadgets, the following key themes dominated Day 1 talking points and takeaways:
Virtual Reality: Clearly the thematic order of the day this year at MWC. Samsung revealed its Gear VR headsets while HTC announced pricing and launch dates for the Vive, its rival to the Rift. Mark Z made an appearance at the Samsung launch event and announced a new Facebook team that will build social apps for Oculus Rift in which users of VR headsets could share virtual experiences. Clearly the platform for having and sharing virtual experiences 'as if you're right there in person' is a key priority for FB. The world moved from sharing messages 10 years ago to sharing photos. Pretty soon everything will be video.
5G networks and applications are becoming closer to reality (still 3-4 years away at least). Rapid advancements in the infrastructure and networks are announced by Cisco, Ericsson, Intel and Nokia Networks.
While there is still a lot of groundwork to be done around solidifying technical standards for 5G, being first in the market and having readiness is what all carriers and vendors are targeting. Given that 5G promises an improvement of somewhere 50 to 100 times over 4G, carriers in Europe do not want to be left behind by the rapidly dominant Asian telcos. Case in point being the long line in front of the SK Telecom booth had a 5G hologram and virtual reality technology showcase.
Connected everything – 5G networks also hold the key to the success of the Internet of Things dream. In addition to being faster, 5G networks will also theoretically be able to handle millions of connections. Amidst all the news of carriers and infrastructure companies, was the news about the debut of Ford’s newest car. The Kuga SUV kitted with its SYNC 3 connectivity technology was revealed and Ford CEO Mark Fields said that the company will triple its engineering investment in driver assist technology. Additionally, the Ford Smart Mobility plan will expand as the company transitions to an auto and a mobility company.