Mobile World Congress
2017 Gears Up
February 13, 2017
Gigabit LTE, artificial intelligence, voice assistants, smart cities,
the Internet of things, Nokia phones, 360-degree cameras, virtual
reality, the rise of 5G and more
on year, Mobile World Congress expands in popularity, stature and
credibility. The show covers not only emerging areas, but also provides
a platform to showcase the impressive development of technologies and
capabilities across this thriving sector.
This year will be no exception. As competition intensifies and
businesses look to innovate and capture customers' imagination on every
level, the telecom industry will continue to evolve.
CCS Insight reveals its top picks of what to expect at the event.
Devices and Wearables
Mobile World Congress has become a major event for phone makers to
launch new devices. CCS Insight expects several smartphone
announcements. However, Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight,
notes, "Historically Samsung has used the event as a launch pad for its
latest high-end phone. This year, the launch of its flagship device will
come later, giving other manufacturers the chance to grab the
We expect the main announcements to come on the eve of the show at a
series of press conferences by companies including Huawei, Lenovo and
its Motorola brand, LG, HMD Global and its Nokia brand, ZTE and others.
Wood comments, "Every phone maker will be hoping that its latest Android
device will stand out in the sea of smartphone sameness. We expect the
big trend is going to be smaller bezels — it's going to be all about
taking stunning screens right to the edges of devices. In addition, we
believe dual cameras and biometrics such as fingerprint and iris
recognition will play big at the show."
A notable announcement will be the return of Nokia phones. We expect the
Nokia brand will make a significant comeback, with Nokia-branded devices
reappearing on the market as HMD Global unveils its first portfolio. At
CCS Insight's Predictions event in November 2016, we shared our view
that Nokia-branded Android smartphones could grab 5 percent of the
global smartphone market by 2019.
In other device news, CCS Insight believes virtual reality and
360-degree content will be hot topics at the event. We expect to see
numerous smartphone-based virtual reality headsets compatible with
Google's Daydream system. Furthermore, 360-degree cameras at a range of
prices will be the catalyst for an explosion of "surroundie" pictures
and videos in the coming years. It may not happen at the event in
Barcelona, but we expect a manufacturer to launch a smartphone with an
integrated 360-degree camera during 2017.
Wearable devices will also be a strong focus, with several new products
expected at the show. Wood comments, "We expect Google to use the show
to re-energise its efforts in full-touch smartwatches by unveiling the
first devices using Android Wear 2.0. Look out for products from LG as
well as ZTE and perhaps a few others." However, he also cautions, "With
this latest update, Google needs to prove that smartwatches are more
than just a solution looking for a problem."
CCS Insight remains concerned that the new Android Wear watches will
fail to impress. The company reiterates its view that demand for smart
analogue watches will pick up during 2017, and that by 2018 sales of
these products will outstrip those of Apple and Android-powered devices.
As in 2016, 5G will be a hot topic at Mobile World Congress. However,
CCS Insight predicts that among all the noise, most operators will
struggle to find solid business cases in support of 5G deployments any
time before 2020. Gigabit LTE will be the headline story when it comes
to network evolution.
Wood comments, "Gigabit LTE is incredibly disruptive. I recently used
the first commercial deployment of this technology on Telstra's network
in Australia, so I've had first-hand experience of what a dramatic
change it offers consumers. Network operators see gigabit LTE as an
opportunity to extend the return on their investments in 4G networks,
and this is going to be one of the hottest tech topics in 2017 as
leading operators around the world upgrade their networks."
Internet of Things
For several years, many of the big companies attending Mobile World
Congress have heralded the ascendancy of the so-called Internet of
things (IoT). Martin Garner, CCS Insight's lead analyst in this area,
underlined the analyst firm's belief that the Internet of things is a
nebulous term that needs more definition if one is to understand the
opportunities it presents.
Commenting, Garner states, "Grand statements about embracing IoT are
virtually meaningless. In Barcelona this year, the major names must put
some edges on their ambitions. Watch out for developments in
machine-to-machine deployments in areas such as retail, healthcare,
agriculture, construction, utilities, smart buildings and smart cites.
We'll also see tremendous activity in connected cars, as well as
convergence between enterprise mobility management systems and cloud
platforms for IoT products."
out smart cities as a headline theme, Garner predicts there will be a
growing coalition of operators seeking to take a big role in smart
cities. He notes, "Supporting smart cities is a natural extension of
mobile network operators' business models, but they need to move
quickly, given the ambitions of Google and others in this area."
Other topics CCS Insight will be following closely include the rise of
big data analytics, machine learning, deep learning and artificial
The most visible of these technologies are smart assistants such as
Amazon's Alexa and Google Voice Assistant, but CCS Insight believes the
biggest opportunity is in enterprise use of the technology.
Garner notes, "We expect to see many types of company putting themselves
forward as suppliers that can bring machine learning and artificial
intelligence into their areas. This will not only be in cloud services,
but also increasingly in networks, apps and in connected devices