Mobile World Congress – Ten under the radar trends you may have missed ..

A bit delayed but I hope this post about Mobile World Congress will highlight some trends I see in the industry but not widely reported yet

Here are ten hidden trends at the Mobile World Congress IMHO. Many of these ideas come to me in meetings and discussions with people and companies and where possible, I have tried to include names. Some of these may be blogs in the future which I will try and link here

At MWC, there is always so much to do and as with a few times previously, I was a speaker at MWC chairing the panel on the future of WAC , which was excellent.

Image – courtesy of @Katrin Jordan with thanks

1)    Will enterprise appstores avoid the fate of enterprise 2.0? This idea came to me speaking with Mobileiron. I have been somewhat familiar with the Enterprise 2.0 paradigm but in my view, E20 never realised it’s full potential due to the cultural issues. The technology was there(Enterprise blogs, Enterprise Wikis and other collaboration tools) but the culture of sharing and transparency was missing from most organizations. Thus, we saw implementations of software like Socialtext but I am not sure how many companies are really using Enterprise collaboration to it’s full potential (considering that many of the functions of  E20 can also be done by other means such as Lotus Notes). Now, we see enterprise appstores, which was the product / service for Mobile Iron and once again I see a familiar pattern. Employees want to create and share their own apps. Can they? Or will corporate culture stifle communications? Can this extend to mobile and can mobile be truly used within the enterprise as it is in the consumer space? Maybe a separate follow on blog

2)  Transparent DPI (deep packet inspection) – I thought of this in discussions with tekelec. DPI is deemed to be ‘bad’ but many in the industry are implementing DPI techniques in one way or the other. Would more transparency help here? Probably the subject of another blog

3) Tablet virtualization: The Viewsonic ViewPad 10 Pro runs virtualized Android on top of Windows. This was not their ‘latest’ model and the Viewsonic person did not emphasise virtualization as much but the idea is fascinating ie the ability to run virtualised Android on top of Windows and what it could mean for the ecosystems (ex Android Marketplace)

4) The home cloud, HQME, DLNA, tablets, connected TV  etc – now a separate blog HQME – and the future of mobile content delivered at home

5)  Network APIs: We have been speaking about network APIs for a while, but finally, as Victor Hugo says, its an idea whose time has come. This was one of the topics of my discussion on the panel I chaired on the future of WAC. For more about my views on this topic see Could facebook be responsible for high roaming bills

6) The ‘baggage/anti-premium’ of B2B – Back in the dying days of the dotcom era, everyone was keen to be seen a ‘B2B’ and not ‘B2C’. Today, with Apple, there is a reversal especially if you are able to execute a consumer strategy. So much so, that a relatively pure B2B player like Cisco on Feb. 10 shed 15% of its market value and During the Internet bubble Cisco was briefly the world’s most valuable company, but now it and Microsoft together have a market cap about equal to that of Apple. Which is bizarre in a sense! As a corollary, I think that developers are the most important differentiator ie the ability to create an ecosystem. Ex Cisco has made investments in set top boxes and connected TVs but today, the main players in this space to watch are the consumer tech companies like Apple TV and Google TV and even to some extent Skype(considering Skype is integrated into Samsung and LG TV sets since CES last year) but Cisco is seen as B2B .. I think that’s a wider trend and a wakeup call for the industry. Hardware and software are commodities. The ability to create a platform and to get consumer mindshare matters more. This follows a second curious trend specific to mobile ie mobile is the ONLY  technology that has moved from consumer space to enterprise space. (everything else flows the other way round – ex computing in general so far).

7)  Emerging market business models may be very different from mature markets: I was invited to an event hosted by Huawei devices about their latest tablet launches. There, we had a joint presentation from Huawei, Qualcomm and the leading Filipino Operator Smart The Smart spokesman discussed a model for the Smart netphone(which BTW is the first WAC phone) where ALL email headers would be free to read BUT if you opened the email , you would pay (same also applied to chat ie headlines are free but you pay to open). This is VERY unusual and very unlikely to work in the West  so I watch this space with interest to see how it evolves

8)  The app is not an experience – This was a part of my second panel I spoke on about Mobile apps .. and the insight was ‘apps could be chained together to create an overall experience’ instead of seeing each app as a ‘throwaway’ concept in itself. This is an interesting idea and may have some merits in future

9)  Finally, there could be a case for convergence of TRADE SHOWS! As usual, MWC was a great event and topped 60,000 attendees which is fantastic. But CTIA (in Orlando next week) is very close to SXSW. A tweet from Jeb Brilliant shows the story succinctly .. RT @jebbrilliant: So who’s going to CTIA next week? Anybody? Or did you all go to SXSW instead?

The shows CES, MWC, SWSX,  CTIA and even CEBIT have the same players and the same sponsors .. As the technologies converge, will tradeshows? In that context I was especially happy to see MWC top 60,000 attendees which means that the show has successfully evolved beyond its Telco roots which is critical as mobile becomes pervasive.

10) Webinos: I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and webinos delivered a  draft report on state-of-the-art technologies, open source ecosystems, IPR and governance models. Lots of very useful information on the webinos site which you should download(its all free)

Finally, I was privileged to be invited for my good friend Martin Sauter’s latest book launch From GSM to LTE: An Introduction to Mobile Networks and Mobile Broadband [Hardcover] which as usual I recommend!

Two more concluding thoughts, for the first time, I saw a whole set of smaller Chinese companies, which was nice to see in terms of expanding the ecosystem

And the Droid was everywhere!!

So, I hope you found the analysis useful. Any comments welcome ..