Two decades of Congress and plenty to say

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Mobile World Congress was the busiest it ever has been, with 90,000 attendees taking in all the action. Paul Withers takes a look back at the busiest and perhaps most important show in its 20 year history 

The 20th Mobile World Congress was the most newsworthy in its history, with plenty of companies having a point to prove to more than 90,000 people in Barcelona

This was a key show for Samsung after its recent loss of market share and slump in profits, but it bounced back with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge flagship smartphones.

These are a massive improvement from the Galaxy S5. Last year’s release was heavily criticised for its use of a plastic casing but the step up to metal on the new devices makes an immediate difference.

Samsung also did a good job convincing the 4,000 people at its ‘Unpacked’ event how the devices will lead the market in screen quality, processing speed, imagery and battery charging, claiming they set the bar for the rest of the industry to follow. It sets up a mouth-watering battle between Samsung and Apple this year for smartphone supremacy.

MWC was an equally important show for HTC, with leading analysts claiming in the last issue of Mobile News that the firm’s future hinges on the success of its new flagship One M9.

Like last year’s One M8, the device’s premium feel makes it a phone to be proud of. The One M9 follows the same pattern, but the problem is it looks remarkably similar to its older brother.

Seeing the two devices next to each other on a shop shelf, consumers may find it difficult to tell them apart, so HTC will need to spend many millions of pounds more on marketing to ensure everyone knows about the M9 and what it can do.

Microsoft Mobile arrived at MWC for the first time without Nokia and continued to stretch its portfolio across multiple price points with the announcement of the low-to-mid-range.

However, Sony Mobile didn’t make any product announcements, with no sign of the new flagship Xperia Z4. In fact, its massive stand had an uncomfortably eerie feel to it due to the lack of products on show.

Huawei shone through really positively. The trio of smart wearables it launched, in particular the Huawei Watch, are mightily impressive and its ambition to sell 100 million mobile devices globally this year shows it’s definitely a company on the up.

Lenovo brought Motorola to MWC for the first time and had plenty of praise for it, revealing its joy at shipments increasing by 400 per cent globally last year and showing plenty of optimism for the future.

BlackBerry went against tradition by launching a product at MWC, but CEO John Chen spent most of its press conference convincing attendees the company is on the road to financial stability, pitching it more as a software business.

The hardware distributors were also out in force. We became the first publication to interview Brightstar’s new CEO Jaymin B Patel and he was quick to lay out his plans to further grow the company across the globe.

Ingram Micro announced the completion of its £80 million acquisition of Anovo, which it said will strengthen its role in the global market by forming even deeper relationships with operators, manufacturers and retailers.

Tech Data Mobile, which has been relatively quiet in the trade press recently, revealed plans to enter mobile airtime and growth of its mobile partner base by 35 per cent over the past 12 months.

It was a fascinating Mobile World Congress, with plenty of major announcements and success stories resulting from it. It builds a platform for what should be another fascinating year in the mobile industry.

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