Mobile World Congress 2019.
What’s On BrandCulture’s Radar?


Each year BrandCulture makes a point of attending select conferences and events. We choose our “can’t miss” venues for a number of different reasons, but overall we want  to check out innovations in branding and company expression, stay abreast of emerging developments and push ahead of evolutions in the market — and also meet with current and potential clients and collaborators.

Although we don’t always participate in the madness of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January in Las Vegas, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona at the end of February remains a mandatory stop. This year we’ll have several BrandCulture team members on-site to explore the trends coming down the pipeline. MWC is a whopper of a show, taking up multiple football fields of event halls at the Fira Barcelona, with enough launches, presentations, parties and FOMO to fill several agendas.

Mobile World Congress 2018

Mobile World Congress 2018

A few quick facts:

  • GSMA and the Fira Barcelona jointly host MWC in Barcelona, Spain with two newer satellite events in the US and China.
  • Each year the event hosts over 100,000 (!) attendees.
  • The conference convenes organizations of all kinds, but mostly those focused on the mobile industry. This now includes app developers, investors, network providers, device makers, etc.
  • There’s an excellent start-up component called 4YFN (4 Years From Now) organized separately from the main MWC event, offering access to the most vanguard developments in the tech world.

We don’t expect many startling revelations in 2019, but rather incremental developments to a few trends we saw in 2018. This doesn’t mean we’re disappointed; if anything the maturation of the breathless 2018 buzz makes areas like 5G, artificial intelligence, IoT, augmented reality, etc. that much closer to reality.

We’ll tune in to more nuanced trends at MWC this year. Check with us again the first week in March, post-MWC, when we’ll publish some insights from our crew on the ground, including our co-founder and Managing Director, Jon Hutson, and our Creative Director, Patrizia Schopf.

Here’s what we’re on the lookout for at MWC 2019:

  • This year’s theme is “Intelligent Connectivity.” We assume this will apply to connectivity advanced by IoT and enabled through 5G, for example, all facilitated by artificial intelligence. Sub-themes include “The key topics of Content, Digital Trust, Digital Wellness and The Future.” That last bit strikes us as both broad and amorphous, but we will suspend any judgment until we see what’s on offer.
  • We’ve also heard rumors about new search functionalities, like SEO for Amazon, visual search developments and also innovations in search options for the home.
  • Huawei’s disastrous, brand-value-destroying 2018 has left many of us curious about what they’ll actually show at the conference. Will there be some new public positioning? A PR onslaught? The saga continues to evolve on an almost daily basis, to the point that the GSMA is even considering a crisis meeting over Huawei.
  • In parallel, will Huawei’s stumbles impact what Ericsson, Nokia and their network-gear peers show, highlighting their new competitive advantage? We’d be surprised if these brands didn’t capitalize on Huawei´s weakness somehow.
  • Also, fun toys! Foldable and flexible tech made a big splash at CES and will extend into MWC. Xiaomi had a flexible smartphone prototype. We’ll also look at what Motorola, Samsung, Oppo and their device brethren are doing.
  • We’re also curious about a new addition to 2019’s show, the “Digital Planet.” This seems like a manifestation of the broader conference rebranding, i.e. changing the name from Mobile World Congress to MWC Barcelona. This would be a strategic nod to a broader set of technologies, not just strictly mobile — or perhaps an acknowledgement that virtually all technologies are now in some way mobile. Digital Planet “will include over 200 app, ad tech, e-commerce and marketing communication solution providers and other organizations focused on creating connected experience and solutions that will positively impact citizens’ daily lives.”
  • “Wellness” continues to gain deeper traction. In all its abstract glory, wellness continues to spillover from CES into MWC, under cover of “connectivity solutions,” mostly from device providers. Think Xiaomi smartphone plus their fitness miBand, for example. We’re expecting tech solutions to ailments like self-esteem issues, anxiety, social media envy, addiction… the works! Conference sessions will focus more on wellness than on the exhibition floor, but we’re curious to see how they’re positioned at the show.

Again, check back with us at the beginning of next month to see what our BrandCulture experts’ key takeaways were from the event. As always, if you’re on-site during the show, let us know!

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