Eight Themes from Mobile World Congress 2011

Our full report on this year’s show will appear later this week, but here are eight major themes we spotted in Barcelona:


Android Everywhere
Google’s operating system was everywhere at Mobile World Congress. From a dedicated exhibition area to Android-powered devices on almost every stand, the little green robot was everywhere — even on lapel pins sported by several thousand delegates.

Operators Fight Back
Mobile network operators have lost considerable ground to the likes of Apple and Google over the past few years. Mobile World Congress marked the start of a fight back. The most conspicuous example was the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC), which released commercial offerings just 12 months after it was founded.

This year we saw the first commercial 3D phones at Mobile World Congress. The highest-profile example was LG’s Optimus 3D phone, which comes with twin cameras for 3D video capture. There were also 3D games and content on show.

Engineering Prowess
The ubiquity of Android made it hard for device-makers to stand out from the crowd. Some did so by displaying their manufacturing credentials. Samsung’s Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 10.1 emerged as two of the show’s most desirable pieces of hardware, combining good looks with market-leading specifications.

Industry Divided on Tablets
Delegates came away from the show with more questions than answers about the tablet market. Beyond Apple this segment remains unproven.

Machine-to-Machine Connections
Momentum is building strongly in this market, from modules to systems integration and provisioning for operators. But it’s not a simple set of opportunities, and operators will have to develop many new business models to address the huge potential.

Cross-Platform Initiatives
We’ve noticed several products that aim to make it easier for publishers to work across handset operating systems. Notable examples are Yahoo’s Livestand publishing system on tablets; Mouin, for rendering Web sites on multiple platforms; and Myriad’s Alien Dalvik, which brings Android apps to other operating systems.

Industry Returns to Health
Attendance at this year’s Mobile World Congress was over 60,000, and there was an air of confidence on the exhibition floor and in the conference presentations.