Mobile World Congress, MWC, took place again in Barcelona on the first week of March. It is an annual event where basically all relevant mobile and connectivity people come to see the latest trends, products and meet each other. MWC is the most important mobile event, over 90,000 visitors in this year. Does MWC make sense for your startup?
We have seen a significant disruption in mobile business in the last 7 years. There are a lot of mobile businesses, like all app business, that bypass carriers. And many startups are related to that business. Apple and Android changed the mobile business.
In the last year MWC introduced a new concept: 4YFN, 4 Years From Now. It is a kind of dedicated startup event during MWC. In 4YFN startups can have a stand for a lower price, tickets are cheaper and there are startup specific program, like a lot of pitching and investor dating. And there were many kinds of startups, but quite many of them were somehow linked to mobile apps, like apps for car parking, collecting customer data, gaming and advertising. Several countries had also their areas to promote their own startups at 4YFN.
Many countries have also their own departments at the main MWC event. It is typically possible for SME’s and startups to get space in those national departments with much smaller investment than alone. Many of those SME’s and startups offer e.g. technology to carriers or larger infrastructure vendors.
MWC is especially mobile and connectivity technology, infrastructure and support IT solutions event. It is a b2b event to make deals and find partners. It is not a consumer show, it is not a general mobile apps show and it is not really a place for b2b business where carriers or infrastructure have no role.
MWC is not relevant for all mobile startups. For example, if you offer your application to consumers, or you have b2b solutions that are for retailers or publishers, MWC is probably not so relevant for you. But you make solutions for carriers, infrastructure components (e.g. payments or security), or look for partners from telcos, network or device business, MWC is very relevant for you. MWC is not a general startup event (but there are so many of them), but for specific industries and solutions it is the most relevant event in the world.
What was hot in this year? Mobile handset offered nothing very unique, of course, many new models. Smart watches, wristbands and wellbeing products are really coming. Also mobile payment is getting a bigger role: Samsung announced Samsung Pay (a kind of Apple Pay style concept) and MasterCard had its Financial Inclusion program.
Internet of Things, IoT, had very big role in this year. And it is easy to say that all kind of devices will be connected to the Internet in the future. But now IoT is still a kind hype word for many companies, and it is used in the marketing, although there are no tangible products and concept. Big data has still little bit the same problem. Many companies use it as a marketing buzzword. But with data and analytics it is very important to have tangible products, use case and real value to end-users.
MWC is important event for mobile and connectivity business. And it is relevant for startups that are working in that area. It will be again in the next year late February in Barcelona. Startup should especially look at the 4YFM event and local export organizations that can offer cost-effective solutions to participate.
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