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POV: 2018 Mobile World Congress: What You Need To Know

Background:

The 2018 Mobile World Congress (MWC) wrapped up on March 1st in Barcelona and saw some of the mobile industry's biggest updates, reveals and announcements.

Details and Implications:

The world's leading mobile manufacturers took their newest wares to Barcelona for the 2018 Mobile World Congress from February 26 – March 1, 2018.

As predicted, Samsung, Sony and LG were there in full force revealing their coolest innovations. The headlines included the announcement of a new branded cryptocurrency and the talk of a new mobile revolution with the advent of 5G.

Hear Samsung Roar: There was an influx of news surrounding Samsung's launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus - both of which boast improved camera functions, fingerprint sensory security and improved AR-backed facial recognition features. However, maybe more interesting was the announcement of Bixby 2.0. Bixby is Samsung's virtual assistant and 2.0 is now Samsung's newest smart speaker, a rebuttal to Apple's HomePod and will be expected to launch in the second half of 2018. As the battle for the home heats up it seems that Samsung wants in on that fight.

Rakuten’s Game Changer: The Tokyo-based ecommerce company announced the Rakuten Coin, its own cryptocurrency that will launch at an unspecified date in the future and will be used to enhance its current loyalty system. The loyalty program has seen $9.1bn worth of ‘Super Points’ awarded since it’s 2003 launch (points are rewarded to customers when they purchase on the Rakuten platform). The e-commerce platform runs internationally and the creation of a Rakuten Coin will mean the end of high exchange rates for customers who want to use the coin to transact on the platform internationally and avoid currency exchange fees / rates. It is a single, global, currency for the platform. The advent of branded coins used to avoid foreign exchange fees has been coming, Rakuten may have just kicked off the brand based cryptocurrency race. For example, it has been reported that Amazon has been registering cryptocurrency based domains. Watch this space.

The 5G Revolution: Telecoms companies couldn't stop talking about 5G. With quicker response times, data transfers and download times, the spread of 5G will help further enable autonomous vehicles and power smart cities. A more reliable and faster network will also result in a multitude of smart devices launching by 2020 and beyond. Though this invisible innovation will further engulf us into the realm of Internet of Things, it will be costly (approx $300bn to cover the United States) and it will spark a new digital revolution. However, 5G has the potential to create a global digital divide due to the majority of countries not being able to afford the technology and in turn potentially impacting advertisers and brands in developing and/or newly developed markets.

Summary:

The 2018 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona saw the launch of a multitude of competing mobile devices, the revamp of nostalgic ones and a revolution in the making with the near launch of the 5G network. Some would argue that it has lost much of its shine and now plays second fiddle to CES (where 5G was also omnipresent), but for pure mobile innovation it is still the market leader.

Further Reading:


AdAge /TechRadar / The Verge/ Wired / Mashable / WARC