While Winter rages on in most of the northern hemisphere, Mobile World Congress brings us Springtime in lovely Barcelona.
Hola from sunny Barcelona! Mobile World Congress 2014 is bigger than ever with over 85,000 attendees. With mobility firmly in control as the world’s largest megatrend in both consumer and enterprise technology, MWC14 has cemented itself as the most important global conference. Once the domain of network equipment manufacturers, handset makers, and mobile operators, this event now attracts entrepreneurs and executives from virtually every major company.
Having Mark Zuckerberg on hand for the keynote to kick things off definitely tells me something has changed. Most of his keynote focused on having mobile operators work with Internet.org to deliver free bandwidth to connect the 2/3rds of the world that aren’t connected. I won’t dwell on the $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition except to say that there’s never been a better time to be a mobile developer.
This first announcements of the event came from Microsoft where we added to our existing lineup of partners (HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung). New hardware partners include: Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer and ZTE. This expands Windows Phone’s reach to 56% of the global smartphone markets. Just as important was our announcement to lower of bill of materials (BOM) costs of Windows Phone hardware by supporting Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets and soft keys. This allows Windows Phones to penetrate more price-sensitive markets and go after the next billion smartphone users. Along the way, we further enhance our adoption by supporting dual SIM phones and supporting all major cellular technologies, including LTE (TDD/FDD), HSPA+, EVDO and TD-SCMA.
Targeting emerging markets, Nokia announced the X family of low-cost Android smartphones. Positioned below the Windows Phone Lumia range, these devices swap out Google services for Microsoft services including things like OneDrive, Outlook.com, Here maps, and Skype. With the announcements made by Microsoft the previous day to lower Windows Phone hardware BOM costs, this new line of devices may find themselves bumping into the low end of the Lumia line. They definitely have apps on their side with reports that they’ll run 75% of Google Play apps out of the box. Speaking of low-cost, the Nokia Lumia 520 won the Global Mobile Award for Best Low Cost Smartphone at MWC this year.
Via its Unpacked event, Samsung launched the Galaxy S5, Gear 2, Gear Neo, and Gear Fit health band. The Galaxy S5 looks a lot like the GS4 with a dimpled back cover, finger scanner, heart rate monitor, and an upgraded camera. I suppose it’s the same kind of “yawner” upgrade that Apple gets away with each year with the iPhone. Of all their new wearables, the sleek, Gear Fit stole the show with a colorful, curved display reminiscent of the Nike Fuel Band.
On the enterprise side of the house, Samsung has made updates to their KNOX technologies. KNOX 2.0 takes advantage of the multiuser capabilities of Android KitKat to provide dual/multi persona container capabilities without requiring app wrapping. This means that just about any app in the Google Play store should work unmodified which eliminates the “hassle factor” of app wrapping to run a particular container. Speaking of containers, KNOX 2.0 will now work with 3rd party containers such as Good’s secure container, Fixmo’s SafeZone and MobileIron’s AppConnect. Last but not least, Samsung also launched KNOX EMM and Marketplace which support mobile device management, Identity and Access Management, and apps from the cloud with Galaxy and iOS devices.
Lots of folks liked to hang out in the Sustainability Garden to take a break under the bubble.
Almost everyone found themselves grabbing a snack and talking to other attendees in the various Networking Gardens.
In other news, Samsung is taking over the world via the clever use of footballers.
AppMachine facilitates rapid, multiplatform development of native apps via their web apps and Lego blocks. Very impressed with their demo!
Embarcadero keeps Delphi development relevant across mobile devices. Let’s hear it for Object Pascal and the enduring legacy of Anders Hejlsberg!
kwamecorp is an agency doing very cool mobile design and development work around the world. They also fund startups that they think will drive positive change in the world.
MicroStrategy has a mobile app platform that allows you to turn any business function into a mobile app without writing any code.
The W3C is here to remind us that HTML5 is the only open, multiplatform development technology that isn’t controlled by any one company. I’m a fan!
vserv.mobi is one of many mobile advertising platform companies present in the App Planet hall in Fira Gran Via.
This just looks cool.
Globo demonstrated their secure container solution for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1 for me. Their container included an Exchange Active Sync client and remote file access.
Nice to see Washington State representing all our great local technology companies.
The beautiful HTC One snagged the Global Mobile Award for Best Smartphone at MWC this year. They also launched the mid-range Desire 610.
SAP is charging into the world of enterprise mobility with the one-two punch of Afaria for device management and SAP Mobile Platform to build apps across all mobile operating systems. They also announced a new partnership with Xamarin to allow Microsoft Visual Studio developers to link to SAP’s Mobile Platform. Merging Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) and Syclo Agentry platform and implementing OData represents their MEAP/MADP roadmap.
Panasonic is the real deal when it comes to enterprise mobility solutions. I was excited to see them launch the Toughpad FZ-E1 running Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. If you can build Windows Phone apps, you can build apps for their new rugged handheld. Get after it!
I found a company trying to cash in on the likenesses of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and some other guy.
fitbit is one of the wearable fitness pioneers, but you’d never know it if you judged them by the size of their booth at this giant, mobile beauty pageant.
SOTI touted their MobiControl Android+ technology to enable, optimize and secure Android for the enterprise.
Sophos talked-up IDC’s research note that found the 25% of SMB organizations currently utilize Sophos Mobile Control as their MDM solution to govern and manage their mobile devices.
Who doesn’t love GoPro? I need to head back to Whistler.
Citrix announced XenMobile for Samsung KNOX and claims the most KNOX-certified apps.
Huawei launched the MediaPad X1 tablet with a 7-inch screen and cellular connectivity, which means it also serves as a giant smartphone. They also introduced TalkBand wearables that pair with the X1 via Bluetooth to provide fitness data.
LG launched the G Pro 2 phablet as well the G2 Mini. LG’s Knock Code is an interesting security feature that allows you to tap the phone on the correct quadrant of the display to unlock it.
Sony had a giant booth that seemed like a spaceship. The launched their flagship Xperia Z2 smartphone and Xperia Z2 tablet.
Sony also released their SmartBand fitness and tracker wearable that works with their new smartphone.
The world’s top PC company introduced 3 new Android smartphones as well as a new 10-inch Yoga Tablet that gets 18 hours of battery life.
Bill is doing a great job of demonstrating Microsoft’s 3 screen strategy across Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone.
ZTE launched their ultra slim Grand Memo II LTE phablet with a 6 inch screen. Additionally, they showed-off their ZTE Open C built in partnership with Mozilla and Telefonica. It looks like they’re covering the high-end with Android and the low-end with Firefox OS. They also talked about their smart city solution, ZTE iCity.
Qualcomm chipsets power more mobile devices found at MWC than anyone else.
John Chambers, the chairman and CEO of Cisco, claimed the Internet of Things space has the potential to generate $19 trillion worth of profit and economic benefits over the next decade. That’s a lot of cash.
Newly-acquired AirWatch had a massive booth and really emphasized their Secure Content Locker (MCM) technology this year.
This small version of Oracle’s Americas Cup sailboat was the coolest thing at their booth.
A $25 Firefox OS reference design was the talk of MWC. I played with their HTML5 mobile operating system running on Alcatel and ZTE phones and they’ve definitely come a long way since last year.
I actually kinda like Asus’ new ZenUI for the ZenFone. Gotta differentiate from other Android handset makers somehow.
What are my broad takeaways from this event?
- There’s lots of unimaginative Android rectangles for sale that are undifferentiated from competitors
- There’s a flood of fitness wearables taking advantage of Bluetooth LE
- Lots of new players entering an already crowded EMM space
- The device I saw people using most often was a Moleskine + Pen
- Reaching out to the next billion people with low cost phones and connectivity is trending
See you next year!