Finding My Square Meter at Mobile World Congress 2017
Whitey Bluestein, mobile industry veteran and power player, discusses how MWC has adapted to the change in technology
Ten years ago everything changed. Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s first iPhone, the first Android OS was released, and Mark Zuckerberg announced the first native Facebook app, on a Blackberry. Oh yes, and Mobile World Congress moved from Cannes to Barcelona. Over the last ten years, the rate of change, shift of power, speed of innovation, and interrelationships between operators, OEMs and end users all changed dramatically.
Where MWC in Cannes was a marketplace for handset vendors and infrastructure providers selling predominantly voice-based equipment to mobile operators, MWC in Barcelona includes a whole new world of connected innovation at the world’s largest mobile bazaar.
All this innovation has driven insatiable demand for greater bandwidth, faster connections, new spectrum, and a growing need to be able to connect all of this, wirelessly, to every imaginable device or appliance. Wearables, Internet of Things, machines talking to machines, voice recognition, location services, cloud storage and network-based cloud services, connected cars, devices, homes, drones, VR/AR, appliances, robots and, of course, the latest handsets are all there. Along with a few surprises, if that’s possible.
Showing off this innovation requires eight stadium-sized exhibition halls occupying 100,000 square meters of exhibition and hospitality space at the Fira Gran Via conference center in modern, bustling Barcelona. Where else can you accommodate more than 100,000 wireless wonks and executives from all over the world? That’s one square meter for every attendee, although hopefully not at one time. I’ll let you know my favorite square meter.
Today at MWC, the opportunities are not just for entrepreneurs, start-ups, innovators and investors to come to meet mobile operators and infrastructure providers who rely on the new innovators, but also for those who need wireless connectivity to enable their devices, solutions, sensors, appliances, wearables, robots, drone.
In a world where nearly everyone has a mobile phone, the growth is in M2M, wearables, connected devices, telemetry, VR/AR, drones, and vertical markets like healthcare, transportation, agriculture, utilities, all looking to find new efficiencies and solutions by connecting to the wireless world.
But this story is not just about machthe ines connecting to people or other machines, although that meteoric growth continues as data long ago surpassed voice. Because voice is staging a comeback, too.
Look no further than Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, devices that recognize voice commands and queries, engage users in a conversation, and help them connect to other people and machines, giving you the voice assistant who handles everything for you, just like you always wanted. The tsunami of mobile applications continues, but Bots, a simple computer program or application that runs an automated task over the internet, are working their way into our mobile lives as well, making every device more useful.
Finally, there is the overarching concern about security as more devices are connected to the network via mobile; devices which hold our information, drive our cars, open our homes, transmit vital medical information, commercial and financial data, and our very identities.
The world has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, much more than the first 25 years of mobile. Should we thank Apple, Google, or the smartphone? Sure, but mostly, we need to thank the entrepreneurs and innovators who work 24/7 to dream up new things to do and connect to our increasingly mobile world.
For 35 years, Whitey Bluestein has worked as a senior corporate development executive and international mobile strategist in established companies and interim executive for wireless tech companies. Focused on mobile (especially wireless connectivity solutions, M2M and IoT, wearables, cloud, roaming, marketing/distribution), Bluestein helps companies refine and implement new strategies, develop strategic relationships with mobile operators and others, win deals and accelerate growth. He has deep M&A experience, as well as managing a $94M strategic round in a successful IPO.
Bluestein has managed several billion dollar deals, complex business relationships and negotiated deals, JVs and alliances with Verizon, AT&T, Disney, Microsoft, Best Buy, Qualcomm, American Express, Intel, T-Mobile, British Telecoms, Sprint, Orange, and other noteworthy companies.