Mobile World Congress 2012 – the IAB’s ten top takeaways

Blog posted by Jon Mew
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Jon Mew, the IAB's Director of Mobile & Operations, reports back from the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Barcelona is slowly starting to recover from another amazing Mobile World Congress. The stands are coming down, the bars are still counting their takings and the Catalans can start to use their 3G network again.

The IAB last week  spent an action packed 3 days out there, learning, networking and checking out the latest developments in mobile. I thought I’d share my ten main take outs from the event with you.

1. Working with regulators – this topic came up continually in keynote speeches and was a constant topic of discussion at industry events. The consensus seems to be that one of the key issues for mobile to grow is to make sure that the industry is engaging with regulators effectively.

2. Less focus on handsets – in previous years there was definitely more of a buzz around new handsets and the amazing technological developments that had been made. This year still saw some great new devices, but less than normal, and companies like HTC who launched 4 new devices focused more on music and their tie up with headphone manufacturer Beats.

3. The growth in connected devices – the Mobile World Congress is no longer just about mobiles, but is increasingly focusing on the growth of other connected devices. Obviously tablets are big news, but from the Porsche on the Blackberry stand and the vending machine on Visa’s, to the keynotes of Ford and Ericsson, companies are increasingly starting to explore how connected technology can improve customer experiences.

4. The growth of M-Commerce – it was interesting to see more companies in the M-Commerce space this year with even the likes of Ebay and PayPal having a presence. NFC was another hot topic with lots of demos of NFC enabled gadgets like the Google Wallet, which is now starting to role out in the US.

5. The Windows and Nokia fight back – Nokia announced the global roll out of their excellent Windows based Lumia 900 and the new Symbian based 808 PureView which has an amazing 41mpix camera. Microsoft also showed their confidence by having a competition on their stand to win €100 if anyone could beat a Windows phone for speed.

6. The cult of Android – as ever the Android stand was a sea of people eagerly checking out Google’s latest stuff like the Google Wallet. The cult of Android shows no sign of slowing with people flocking to collect Android pin badges and real ice cream sandwiches. It also left the IAB in a sticky situation when Google very kindly opened a box of Android special edition toys, gave us 2 and then legged it, leaving us to face an angry mob.

7. More focus on services – along with what felt like slightly reduced noise from some handsets and technology companies, there was an increase in the talk and attendance of service providers, from of course app developers, to PayPal and Ebay’s presence.

8. Positivity – the general mood of the conference was incredibly positive. Given the financial climate around the globe, mobile seems to have weathered the storm and in fact in many areas is still growing exceptionally quickly.

9. More focus on advertising – this year saw a bigger focus on advertising and for the first time we started to see UK agency folk coming out to the event in increasing numbers. The only notable absentees were brands, with only a handful in attendance.

10. Big mobile advertising announcements happening outside the event – probably the biggest mobile advertising announcements were from Facebook and Twitter last week and both were made outside the conference. Facebook’s decision to integrate advertising is likely to have a massive impact on the market with around 50% of all consumers’ time on mobile internet spent solely on Facebook.

Overall the event was, as ever, a great experience. With some 60,000 people there, a slightly shifted focus and a pretty positive vibe, everyone seemed to be coming home in good spirits – and I’m sure that had nothing to do with the sangria and sunshine.

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