MWC 2015: Smartphone Launches Overshadow 5G Ambitions?

Mobile World Congress 2015 opened Monday, March 2 in Barcelona with the theme “The Edge of Innovation.” Showcasing a mix of technologies that are either newly productized, in prototype, or still at ideation, the event can keep you guessing about how soon you will actually be able to get your hands on some of the technology on display. This reporter learned to just ask.

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest mobile technology event – attended by telcos, salespeople, software developers, chip designers, and device makers – and it’s where the rest of the world gathers for a peek at the technology that might become an important part of our daily lives. This year 86,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, being held March 2-5 at the Fira Gran Via conference center in Barcelona.

Will 2020 Be the Year for 5G?

Industry analysts expect hot topics at this year’s show to include Internet of Things, wearables, flagship smartphone launches (like the new Samsung Galaxy S6, launched March 1), and 5G – including a lively discussion of what 5G is or should be.

In the keynotes on Monday, Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn defined a timeline for the rollout of autonomous drive cars, with the first wave coming next year and a second wave that is capable of making lane shifts debuting in three years. AT&T and BSH are each working on different aspects of the smart home. Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg made a bold prediction that 5G will arrive in 2020 – with 1000x the current data volume, 10-100x end-user data rates, and 10x longer battery life – in time to accommodate an anticipated 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

SAP’s “Run Simple” Connects Consumer to Device

In the frenzy of attention on newer and smarter devices, SAP’s message of running real-time in a cloud-based, intelligent business network drew tremendous interest among visitors. In his keynote, SAP CEO Bill McDermott highlighted the business impact of SAP’s software innovations as relates to other the other technologies on display at the event.

“You’re connecting the consumer to the device, and ultimately you want to sell them one of your core products,” said McDermott, referring to mobile commerce. “This idea of real-time business, running your business simple, and leveraging the device is what the networked economy is all about.”

McDermott was joined on stage by Rick Costanzo, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Global Mobility Solutions, SAP, who showed the power of real-time, context-aware predictive analytics in a demo of Barcelona for You, or BCN4U. The result of a collaboration of the City of Barcelona, Telefonica, and SAP, BCN4U offers Barcelona’s 8 million annual tourists a personalized experience that includes recommendations on sites to visit, including queuing times and advance ticket purchase. If a site is not open, the network recommends alternatives in real time based on the user’s profile. “We’re leveraging the SAP HANA Cloud platform to make the right proposition to the right user at the right time – and deliver a beautifully elegant, simple, and powerful experience,” Costanzo told the audience.

Read what Costanzo has to say in his blog about Barcelona for You, direct from Mobile World Congress 2015.

SAP Drives Customer Engagement at Event

MWC_BCN4U_smallBCN4U is just one of the four showcases that visitors can interact with at the SAP booth at the Mobile World Congress – all built on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Located in a high-traffic position at the entry to Hall 6, the SAP booth this year has been designed to be an interactive and conversational space. With plenty of small tables, minimal signage, a lush neutral-toned carpet, and low-slung couch, the booth format is not unlike a living room. It provides ample opportunities to engage with customers and spontaneously show demos on the technologies they are interested in.

Other showcases at the booth include a smart vending scenario, as well as “Simple Just Works” – which combines the Internet of Things, smart glasses, and predictive analytics to demonstrate a smart maintenance scenario. The showcase“Telco as a Channel” illustrates the connection between Big Data and a real-time, omnichannel experience. In this showcase, visitors are invited to relax on the couch as they watch television and capture objects they like on the screen onto their wish list on a tablet. In an example of contextual awareness, the wish list data is then seamlessly communicated to area merchants. This data enables the merchants to better serve these customers as they enter their stores.

ESA App Camp Winners Announced

On March 2 at the event, SAP and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the winners of the first App Camp – a competitive event that challenged students and young developers from six European countries to develop apps on SAP HANA Cloud Platform that utilize Earth observation data and business data to support the future of agriculture and forestry, renewable energy, and fisheries management.

Two teams won the challenge: team CodeGreen from the UK and team Agrai from Finland. Bill McDermott was on hand to personally congratulate the winners. “It is truly inspiring to see what these teams were able to achieve,” said McDermott. “By combining their creativity with the power of SAP HANA Cloud Platform, the ESA App Camp participants developed apps that were previously unthinkable. Initiatives like these provide a clear demonstration of how SAP can help the world run better and improve people’s lives.”

Winners will have the opportunity to be considered for the ESA Business Incubation Program and the SAP Startup Focus program, which works with young companies worldwide to help them build commercially-viable solutions on the SAP HANA platform and supports their go-to-market strategies.

Innovating for a Better World

Not to be missed, the GSMA Innovation City, a bellwether installation at the Mobile World Congress each year, offers a glimpse of the future with displays and demos on connected living, sports, and commerce.

The first day of Mobile World Congress 2015 ended with a keynote from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which he outlined his vision for, an ambitious project to connect everyone on earth to the Internet. Interviewed by Wired magazine’s David Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg described the goal of as creating an on-ramp to the Internet for people to access basic data like weather and news. Paramount to the success of the project is the coordinated support of mobile carriers, who are concerned about the bottom-line impact of the project.

Photo source: j. prause