Mobile World Congress 2016: Key Trends

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Tom Pearman, Commercial Director at Weve

Mobile World Congress 2016 was a hugely impressive event with almost 100,000 delegates (growing again) and a credible amount of exhibitors showing off some of the best tech in market. From the obvious big tech players in Google, Facebook, MSFT and an apparent return from Nokia through to the smaller more niche exhibitors showing off the more unusual tech like the connected BMW and Oral B’s smart toothbrush. In the three days I spent in Barcelona I covered over 50km walking across the halls and there are a number of themes that were worthy of sharing.

  1. Advertising and Tech

There was a noticeable change this year in the growing importance of MWC to the Ad world with C suite attendance prevalent to previous years with mobile becoming critical to their business and the device of choice for their audiences. Leading agencies were taking their top clients on guided tours of the vast halls even Martin Sorrell was seen leading a WPP tour of his top 10 clients, an credible sign of the importance of the event.

Adblocking got lots of airtime and was comprehensively covered at the global IAB event, particularly by Randy Rothenberg at the IAB US, who has a strong view but Twitter coverage of the panel debate, including Shine got high coverage. It is clear that adblocking raises many questions but we are yet to see much in the way of answers.

Mobile ad businesses like Weve and xAd used the event to launch new propositions. At Weve, we launched our programmatic solution with our partner Axonix and xAd used the event to launch Marketplace, their self-serve location platform.  At the other end of the scale the dominance of Google and Facebook in the ad space market was abundantly clear.

  1. Virtual Reality

Whilst Samsung might have launched the new S7 at MWC it was the VR Samsung stand that drew the biggest crowd.  The opportunity to trial the new VR tech through a rollercoaster whilst sitting in a moving armchair with a dominating headset on was a huge attraction. By the time I arrived at the stand the queue was too long so I took guidance from those that did try the kit. Supposedly an amazing experience! Look beyond the Samsung stand and you were falling over the VR products being brought to market.

It’s a juxtaposition between an undeniable shift toward VR becoming a mainstream product and reality that you may never experience entertainment in the same way again as you have a sizeable piece of equipment strapped to your head.

Foresters forecast of 100m VR products being in market by 2018 suggests that this trend will become a reality (excuse the pun).

  1. Connected Lives

One of the most exciting areas was innovation city. It was home to Smart Car, Smart Home, Smart Watches, Smart Bikes and much more. Ford and BMW showed off incredible drive opportunities whilst BMW reinforced that you will still enjoy driving a great car while enjoying access to futuristic tech that will use your windscreen as digital platform.

AT&T showed off the Smart Home tech connecting lighting, heating, security and much more. Amazing to see a live product in the US and as announced at CES this will be brought to the UK in partnership with O2 in 2016. The mobile acts as a key part of these products either enabling activation or acting as the information hub for customers information such as their location, which will power the product usage.

Outside these, there were notable discussion points such at Facebooks set backs in Free Basics Mobile Connectivity in India and Mastercards use of ‘Selfies’ to validate payments.

A great few days reinforcing the importance of the Mobile Device in Innovations that will drive the next five years.

If smart BMX and Connected toothbrushes can take off in 2016 who knows what we have in store for MWC 2017…


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