MWC16 / 4YFN - Mobile World Congress Roundup

So another MWC and (for the first time for this author) 4YFN done. Eden Legal isn’t a professional investor or an expert in protocol stacks or processor speeds, and also could only chat with a fraction of the exhibitors. However, here are a few things that we noticed soaking up the shows and talking to the ones that we did.

MWC16 / 4YFN - Mobile World Congress Roundup

1. Virtual reality

Certainly if the queues for trying it out were anything to go by, and the weight of the names promoting it, this will be “a thing”. We’re not sure yet of the industrial applications, or any applications outside of gaming, adult or movies. And given the hardware cost and the fact that many of us are still using 2G or broadband that at times struggles to support Netflix and YouTube alone let alone simultaneously, this may be for “digital haves” for the foreseeable future – or possibly reserved for the arcade.

2. Mobile Health

Unlike in previous years this seems now to have matured to the stage of acceptance or imminent acceptance. The model seems to be business to practitioner – the ability to deliver and monitor (follow up) treatments via mobile using basic functions such as the camera or touch, possibly in conjunction with specific wearables or 3D printed disposables, seems to serve both the professionals (micro level data) and the pharmaceutical industry and governments (big data). We can see a portfolio of mobile health startups being an interesting bet.

3. Automotive / Transportation

Cars everywhere. Again. But this time the two-way communications and data gathering (again, micro level data for the user, big data for the advertisers and industry) seem much more persuasive and mature. And cars is only one part of the story: in industry shipment tracking and logistics sensors already seem to have taken root.

4. Wearables

Not so many watches this time. And consumer wearables may not be the key anyway – for consumers the phone may be everything. On the other hand, purpose-specific, non-leisure-oriented wearables, possibly facilitated by better battery life, the ubiquity of WIFI and things like Bluetooth LE, seem much more attractive – think of monitoring your elderly relatives, your pet, your broken (healing) bones (see above).

5. Internet of Things

For this author, IoT (outside of automotive/logistics – see above) seems still to be a work in progress. Some of the smart cities initiatives hint at what might be possible but the no-brainer industrial M2M applications seem hard to spot. Are there concerns over proof of concept? ROI? Security? It seems inevitable that this will change. And Watson for example may contribute…

So…

Even without a huge number new devices or quantum leaps in specifications appearing this year, this sector never stands still. But what sector? It’s now really not even strictly mobile. Nor just portable. Maybe the defining factor is simply “digital”. Looks like Eden Legal can keep its slogan for now…