Fjord’s Crystal Ball takes a look at Mobile World Congress 2013

Fjord Family

Our expectations for the show, and where we think the big shake-ups will be.

It’s the world’s premier mobile industry event, but in some ways Mobile World Congress is at a transitional point for 2013.

Back in 2012 MWC began to feel more like Europe’s leading digital event – not just a mobile one. So will this momentum continue, in MWC’s brand new venue? And what are the disruptive highlights Fjord will be looking out for during four days of mobile mania?

Perhaps the most immediate impression will be how broad and deep the Chinese manufacturers’ presence will be. Will the emerging Chinese giants throw more weight behind Android, their own OSs or HTML5? With Europe under pressure, the Chinese manufacturers may shift the industry’s tectonic plates.

Overall, there is sure to be an even greater emphasis on services rather than just physical products. Device launches are now often overshadowed by the buzz around new services, while devices from leading brands are increasingly launched at those companies’ own events.

We’re expecting to hear lots of buzz around the services that bring real value to end users while making money for the providers. We also expect to see trends continue in mHealth, mCommerce, and mPayments as hot topics across MWC.

Combining services and devices in new ways means wearables should enjoy the same buzz they did at CES. We expect operators to launch health and wellness initiatives, and to see how the handset cover/case/accessory business is evolving. This leads into high value accessories, such as the Monster/Beats brands, which are likely to make a lot of noise this year.

Of course user experience is at the heart of a successful show, and we’ll be keenly monitoring the latest handsets and OSs from the industry titans. Is a Windows phone community emerging? What will the heavyweights of Nokia and Microsoft look like? Is BB10 good enough to save BlackBerry? Can HTC get its act together, is Motorola still in raw dev mode, or will we see the X-phone?

Shrinking screen size could be a fascinating device trend. We may see an ultra-small handset launched as a complement to a 7″ tablet – a sort of device on the road to becoming a wearable. Meanwhile, Android smartphone and tablet fatigue is likely to set in: there will be a flooding of rectangular Android-powered screens of various sizes from mainly Asian and American manufacturers. The devices will be impressive compared to what we saw a few years ago, but it’s by now an old play, the devices will be difficult to distinguish from each other, and could ultimately fail to excite.

We’ll be hoping to see many more connected devices that are not simply phones. Dialogue about what multiple device households means for all players in the eco-system will never be far from everyone’s lips. And as thought leaders in the automotive sector, Fjord will be fascinated to see how many automotive vendors have stands.

The OTT players create more buzz than telecom industry insiders: What used to be App World and the Android Land will feel exciting, buzzing, and filled with innovation. This will be in contrast with the telecom ‘insiders’, particularly operators and those mainly selling solutions to operators, whose offerings will feel out of touch in a consumerized world of exciting digital services.

Overall, 2013 promises to be the biggest and most exciting MWC yet. See you at the Fjord stand, Hall 5, stand 5C81.

Fjord Family

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