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EDITOR’S BLOG 220218 Getting ready for congress?


Trying to get my mobile badge sorted for Mobile World Congress reminds me of all the things I hate about Mobile World Congress – long on promise, not so hot in the delivery.

Every year I head off to the show filled with enthusiasm and mobile love, only to be crushed by the smugness of it all… 100,000 people all patting themselves on the back when in reality mobile is quite unreliable – the mobile show badge being an object lesson therein.

However, while I don’t feel any real pull towards the show, I am hoping to see some interesting stuff. Forget the handset launches et al – that’s boring, no one has come up with an innovative smartphone feature in years and this year will be no different – what is interesting will be to see the nexus of IOT, mobile payments and cryptocurrencies.

MWC has been big into IOT for a couple of years now, focussing largely on the rods, wires and boxes that make it happen (I even saw a lamppost last year. And a bus stop). But the potential of what it can deliver is what intrigues me.

With my telemedia hat on I am curious to see how many innovators are steering away from being the next big thing in mobile payments and creating services that have the payments built in. Another fancy way to pay is not needed: what is needed is the ability to make payments part of something else.

Here telemedia companies should be bristling with pride in their faraway corner of Hall 8.1: they should be looking at how best to showcase how mobile ticketing and carrier billing can work together to make for a seamless purchase experience that essentially minimises the faffing about with payments and delivers a ticket, a car park space, a pool car or a Boris Bike.

These things are here and now mobile offerings that can help transform the world real people live in – forget the hyperbole about 5G: let’s see what it can actually deliver and let’s look at how we can change the flow of how things work.

You see what the people at Mobile World Congress don’t fully appreciate is that we are poised on the edge of a massive revolution. Shopping is going to shift soon from a thing that you search out on your phone to something you just point your phone at and buy. Probably from either the lowest bidder or the best shipper or some AI-calculated chimera of the two.

Who is selling it to you is irrelevant. Where it comes from is irrelevant. How you pay for it is almost irrelevant.

“See it, want it, buy it” is where we are heading – and from a MWC point of view this means making sure not that we have super fast broadband per se, but that we have guaranteed connectivity all the time and great location tracking.

Another area that I think is always overlooked is how mobile can be used to help the disabled. No, I haven’t come over all liberal, there are cold hard economic reasons why this is a good idea.

In the UK one in ten people are technically considered blind: that is their unaided eyesight is so poor that they can’t see. This is around 6million people. That is 6million people that struggle to do all sorts of everyday things and 6million who are largely excluded from the broader world of mobile commerce… that is a lot of potential lost revenue.

While I would love to see the tech we have at our disposal used to help these people, it also makes sound business sense. This is something that should be pushed harder than it is.

Other than that, I shall do the best I can to survive what will be my gazillionth MWC. It can be fun, but it is infuriatingly self-congratulatory while, I think, somewhat lacking in results. But let’s see. If I can get this blooming mobile badge sorted I will report back as to what I found.


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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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