Midway through MWC: it’s been a weird and wonderful trip so far


First impressions…

Having attended the Mobile World Congress (MWC) for several years now, it certainly feels busier than usual this year. Attendees are arriving to the event early, and there’s no lull first thing in the morning like most of the previous years.

Time to get the first-hand scoop on the highly-anticipated tech…

The tech…

For the broader congress, there is definitely more space set aside for (as expected) VR, connected cars, IoT and phone photography than ever before.

The VR highlight so far is possibly The HTC Vive stand. The virtual reality headset takes us up a lift to the top of skyscrapers as we walk wobbly planks at the top. And then come crashing to the ground 50 stories below. It was excellent fun and shows how the tech is moving on in huge jumps (quite literally)

The attendees…

The App planet hall 8.1 is packed from open to close daily. There are suits in the hall blending with hoodies and tight jeans, suggesting app marketing needs are becoming more mainstream. There are also more programmatic suppliers than ever but very little to distinguish between them. Is it just emperor’s new clothes, the Yodel Mobile jury is out. It’s going to be interesting to see this play out.

It’s also great to see so many old hands, that have been attending for the past eight to ten years, still there and going strong.

Notably, there are a lot more ad support tech businesses spanning across user analytics, mobile CRM tools and in-app customer support services. It is a strong indication that the marketing process is maturing and not just focused on finding users, but building strong relationships with them. This can only be a good thing. On top of this, I see a lot more country trade organisations are bringing their tech businesses to Barcelona.

The cut and thrust of the sector is even more apparent as some of the big names of last few years are no longer there. Last year’s hero can quickly become the villain and be chased out of town.

The parties…

…are as big as ever and there seem to be a lot more of them. The Mobile tech businesses know they need to make an impression and build relationships with publishers and agencies more than ever, all with large entertainment budgets. The competition is steep, especially with suppliers offering very similar services and products.

The glamour?!

I was surprised to see a few stalls using glamorous girls to pull in the punters. Surely, we are an industry that doesn’t need or want this type of encouragement to make business connections or to try and differentiate?

Overall thoughts so far…

There have been murmurings over the last couple of years about the relevance of the event and that it is living on past glories. On this year’s performance so far, I’d say that it not the case. It is a sector that is maturing into understanding the position in the world of customer marketing engagement. It is also clearly a sector that is continuing to evolve and MWC is the place to showcase new tech and new thinking in the mobile space. We’ll see how the rest of the event pans out!

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Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧