Mobile World Congress preview


With Mobile World Congress set to once again break records, Mobile News looks ahead to the industry’s biggest annual trade show 

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) will focus on how mobile is changing the health, education and automotive industries, with a focus on “creating what’s next”.

The event officially kicks off today (February 24) but companies are increasingly hosting events in the run-up so they do not have to compete for the media’s attention.

This year is no exception: by the time you read this, Chinese smartphone giant Huawei and Mozilla Firefox will have unveiled their latest smartphones and software in press events held in the Spanish city.

For the second year running the event will take place in Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via, one of Europe’s largest conference centres. It has a floor space of 240,000 square metres and eight halls, all under one roof.

The scale of the venue – it is twice the size of the Fira Montjuic which hosted the event from 2006 and 2012 – means it is full of moving walkways and escalators, and attendees are advised to wear sensible footwear.

Attendee numbers grow each year, with the total this year expected to top last year’s 72,000.

More than 4,300 CEOs and 41,000 other company leaders are expected to attend, as well as more than 3,400 members of the press (including several from Mobile News) from 79 countries.

Confirmed keynote speakers include Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, IBM president and CEO Virginia Rometty, AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum who will discuss current and future trends in the mobile industry.

Keynotes include “The road ahead for mobile”, “Exploiting enterprise applications and BYOD”, “Driving new revenues for operators” and “The future of voice”.

‘Creating What’s Next’

The theme of this year’s event is “Creating what’s next”, under which MWC will highlight the most significant innovations and advances in mobile and provide a blueprint for the future.

In this vein, MWC host the GSMA has created a “Connected City” which will demonstrate mobile-connected products found in the automotive, education and health sectors.

It will include a display from Vodafone called “Training and enabling health workers through mobile solutions” and one from the operator on how connected cars can assist governments and emergency services when it comes to accident reporting and tracking.

It will also offer NFC services for those attendees with compatible handsets, enabling them to tap their smartphones to enter the venue and also to access information and technology demonstrations where they see the NFC symbol.

Attendees with iPhones (which currently do not feature the technology) will receive a free NFC enabled case. NFC activities will include a “beer giveaway“, so look out for distribution points across the Fira Gran Via.

GSMA chief marketing officer Michael O’Hara said: “Under the theme of ‘Creating What’s Next’, the 2014 edition of Mobile World Congress will highlight the most significant innovations and advances in mobile, providing a blueprint for the future.

“Attendees will have the opportunity to experience firsthand how mobile is revolutionising business across many industries and transforming everyday life for billions of people around the world. We’re looking forward to welcoming the mobile world to Barcelona in February.”

M-powered Industries

This new event within MWC brings together the health, advertising, media and travel industries to discuss how mobile technologies are impacting the way they operate.

Exhibitors include the European Connected Health Alliance, an organisation which represents health authorities and providers, and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which will discuss how it has embraced producing content for different screens.

Useful information

Mobile World Congress runs from February 24-27 at the Fira Gran Via conference centre, which is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from Barcelona airport.

This year, attendees will be offered a free “transportation ticket” when they pick up their pass, valid for the four event days. It includes unlimited combined journeys using any means of public transport within zone 1 (which includes Barcelona city and the Fira Gran Via).

The nearest train station to the venue is Europa/Fira and is served by five FGC lines: S8, S4, R5, S33 and R6 (all heading in the direction of Plaça Espanya). Barcelona has added a bus line called the H12, which will run across the city to the venue. The bus stop nearest Fira Gran Via is located in Plaça Espanya, a one-minute walk to the South Entrance.

For the first time, a continuous shuttle bus will run between the two MWC venues: Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc, arriving every six or 15 minutes. Barcelona has 10,500 taxis.