Intelligence Brief: MWC19 summed up in 5 pictures - Mobile World Live

Intelligence Brief: MWC19 summed up in 5 pictures

07 MAR 2019

MWC19 Barcelona has been over for a week now. That’s enough time to look back at the big themes, little themes, and everything in between in an effort to determine what mattered and what it all means.

That’s what my team is doing in its perennial MWC wrap-up. However, building from my resolutions to focus on 5G use cases, the enterprise, devices, and enabling technologies, I’ve managed to sum up the entire thing in just five pictures, saving you a lot of reading.

To be fair, any one of these topics could be the subject of its own blog and its own photo journal. That’s what happens when you pull together 109,000 attendees and more than 2,400 companies across more than 120,000 square metres of exhibition and hospitality space.

But, if you’re looking for a quick snapshot (pun intended), here’s mine.

Phones, phones, phones (5G that is)
This year, MWC brought us folding phones, phones that were mostly battery and lots of 5G phones.

It was the latter that stole the show. In part, because of the sheer number launched: everyone from Huawei, to LG, Xiaomi and ZTE announced them, alongside prototypes from Alcatel and OnePlus. In part, because it’s these devices that will enable initial 5G use cases, especially if priced cheaply enough to put into people’s hands (like Xiaomi’s Mi MIX3, pictured below).

The only thing that was nearly as ubiquitous as 5G phones was Rakuten. The newcomer Japanese mobile operator announced a rash of vendor selections (it’s working with Altiostar, Cisco, Intel, Mavenir, Netcracker, Nokia, and Red Hat among others).

More importantly, with the opportunity to build a network from scratch with cutting-edge innovations, Rakuten painted a way of how networks can be built in 2019, and distinguished itself as the one operator every vendor wanted to be associated with (thanks to Keith Dyer, editor of The Mobile Network, for this snap of Rakuten founder and CEO Mickey Mikitani).

Network infrastructure and supply chain diversity
Do you recognise the building pictured below? It’s the Renaissance hotel close to where MWC19 Barcelona was held. It’s also where Huawei showcased its Consulting service, which was in addition to its trio of booths covering networks, consumer and enterprise segments in the Fira Gran Via.

Heading into the event it was unclear whether the network security concerns around Huawei that have been floated in some countries would be a major topic at the show. They were addressed in some form by Huawei, its competitors and even the European Commission. Where the breadth of Huawei’s presence at MWC19 mimics its reach in global telecom networks, the discussions around the vendor in Barcelona were only logical.

AR: for consumers or the enterprise?
When Microsoft launched its original Hololens mixed-reality smart glasses in 2016, there were questions of whether it was an enterprise or consumer solution.

Sure, the price ($3,000+) put it well outside the reach of most consumers, but its lineage to Kinect (an Xbox add-on) suggested incredible consumer use cases.

This year, the launch of the Hololens 2 put consumer aspirations to bed with a focus squarely on the enterprise. With GSMA Intelligence research showing that AR/VR headset adoption among consumers essentially stalled in 2018, this isn’t surprising.

Gaming: the poster child for 5G?
AR headsets might be most at home in the enterprise (for now), but AR-based gaming is another subject. And, combined with 5G? Well, that’s an ideal use case for everyone’s shiny new network. At least, that was a clear message from MWC. Sprint announced work with Hatch on 5G-based cloud gaming.

Intel, Sony Pictures and Nokia demoed a Spiderman-related VR experience thanks to 5G.

Deutsche Telecom had a collaboration with MobiledgeX and Niantic (above) that was always packed with people: someone even showed up late to a meeting with me because they were too busy playing.

Putting aside questions around how 5G gaming will be marketed before 5G network coverage is ubiquitous, the allure of gaming as a 5G use case is understandable. Requiring high bandwidth and the low latencies that benefit from edge computing architectures, it ticks nearly all the 5G boxes.

– Peter Jarich – head of GSMA Intelligence

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.