3 key mobile trends were named in Barcelona
The GSMA's Mobile World Congress is the world's largest exhibition and conference for the mobile industry, with an audience consisting of mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners. Speaking to GSMA's Michael O'Hara, a key member of the event's organising team, he identified three key trends to watch out for ahead of the annual event in Barcelona and outlined the GSMA's plans for pushing forward the next generation of mobile connectivity.
Machine to machine (M2M) and connected living
The terms 'internet of things', 'machine to machine communication' or 'M2M' and 'connected living' have been used interchangably, but developments in hardware, operating systems, apps, cloud, and associated communications services have fueled the emergence of this trend. To demonstrate this potential of M2M, where last year's congress had a connected house, the GSMA have partnered with mobile operators to go one step further and construct a connected city, complete with a town hall, department store, cafe, and more.
Anna Campbell, GSMA's connected city project lead, spoke about the context behind the move to create a fully functioning, mobile-enabled city: "Operators are really excited about connected living and machine to machine because it's a tremendous opportunity for growth. What's powerful about the connected city is the fact that this technology is already out there, and it's fully integrated to provide a seamless experience." This trend has been talked about before and will no doubt pick up a lot of press attention during the event.
Emerging mobile operating systems
Newer mobile operating systems such as Sailfish, Firefox OS and Ubuntu as well as more established systems like the BlackBerry and Windows 8 platforms will have a big presence at Mobile World Congress. O'Hara sees this as an opportunity to challenge the stronghold of iOS and Android in the operating system market: "Well see a lot of device announcements at the show and companies present new operating system solutions such as Mozilla and Jolla. These are significant for developers and content owners and operating systems that combine elements of HTML5 and the mobile web have the potential to challenge the existing players."
Near field communication (NFC)
Much has been said about NFC and its potential, and some would even say the technology has been over hyped. O'Hara is adamant that NFC is still a top item on the agenda for the mobile industry.
The GSMA taking an active role in promoting this technology as the future of mobile transactions. For example, Mobile World Congress delegates will be able to sample the technology for themselves with NFC-enabled terminals available around the venue and payment terminals being distributed city-wide for the purchase of food and drink.
He spoke about the benefits of NFC, and the question of whether mobile users had an appetite for mobile payments: "Touch and pay is an incredibly intuitive thing and people are definitely interested in and excited about trying the technology. We're seeing lots of traction in the transportation sector with NFC and smart tags, and this will really help NFC spread into the mainstream. 300 million NFC-enabled phones are expected to ship in 2013 and every major manufacturer except Apple have committed to NFC."
Closing the interview, O'Hara spoke about what the GSMA hope to achieve at this year's congress. With Long Term Evolution (LTE) being a key enabler for the next generation of mobile services, he said they'd work hard at the congress to push this new level of mobile connectivity forward. "A key question from the GSMA's point of view is asking what levels of regulation and competition should be put in place to help operators thrive. We'll do a lot of work behind the scenes at MWC to bring together regulators, operators and other relevant stakeholders to discuss mobile broadband and the availability of spectrum to make the vision of a connected lifestyle a reality."