Verdict Report: MWC
Event Report: How MWC 2020 Might Have Happened
With MWC Barcelona 2020 called off, we will never know exactly what would have occurred at this year’s edition of the world’s largest mobile event. But armed with press releases, cancelled agendas and a healthy dose of cynicism, we’ve put together a possible outline of the events as they might have played out
Motorola whets excitement
As attendees flood into Barcelona and the surrounds ready for MWC 2020 to officially begin the next day, Motorola grabs early media coverage with a press conference where it launches a new flagship phone, heralding the return of the company to smartphone greatness, and considerable social media nostalgia about the much-loved Razr.
The new smartphone, dubbed the Motorola Edge Plus, comes with a wide selection of unique apps, and is concluded to be a decent, albeit slightly unremarkable mid-range phone.
5G comes in strong
As the event proper kicks off, the importance of 5G at this year’s event is established more-or-less immediately with a keynote featuring the CEOs of Telefónica, Orange, VEON and NTT DOCOMO alongside Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA.
Although the keynote is intended to focus on the internet of things and the wider potential of mobile technology, 5G is brought up repeatedly, although the US’ fight against Huawei is only lightly alluded to. Numerous other 5G events throughout the day result in a flurry of lightly controversial statements being published in the tech press, from major players attempting to show that they are the leaders in the space.
The 5G theme continues when it comes to mobile handsets, with a flurry of announcements in this space over the course of the day. Sony, Honor, Realme and Huawei all unveil their own 5G handsets, and while many are enthusiastic about the hardware prospects, the issue of the US and Huawei rises once again.
Security fights for attention
Cybersecurity also sees a surge in discussion points, led in part by comments made at MWC’s invite-only ministerial programme, but also through a host of other concerns voiced by conference speakers at the main event. Handset and network providers fall over themselves to stress their own products’ privacy and security features, but pundits remain unconvinced.
Industry in the spotlight
The industrial potential of advances in mobile technology is highlighted in the morning with a keynote featuring Rajeev Suri, CEO of Nokia, alongside Airbus’ digital transformation officer Marc Fontaine, Red Hat CEO Him Whitehurst and Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurani. The discussion focuses on the fourth industrial revolution, with speakers arguing that effective 5G and connectivity technologies are vital to its success and painting a dazzling vision of the industrial future in the process.
Dodging Huawei rivalry calls
Rajeev Suri is later asked by journalists to comment on the suggestion that Nokia and Ericsson should band together to create a European alternative to Huawei on 5G, and gives friendly but noncommittal answers.
Let’s get foldable
With a number of unveilings over the previous day, the excitement around foldable phones reaches fever-pitch as journalists begin to publish the results of their hands-on time with the devices. While MWC 2019 saw many such devices showcased, the 2020 iterations are for the most part closer to being viable parts of the handset ecosystem, prompting many analysts to call this the year of the foldable. However, price points remain out-of-reach for many consumers, keeping the segment firmly in the premium end of the market.
Diversity in focus
The issue of connectivity’s role in creating diversity is also a key topic of discussion for the day, with a star-studded keynote on the discussion held at lunchtime. Refinery29 chief content officer Amy Emmerich is joined by Pipeline CEO Katicia Roy and Swarm CEO Dr Sara Spangelo, alongside Cherie Blair and director of FC Barcelona Femení Maria Teixidor i Jufresa. In a positive and enthusiastic discussion, attendees are treated with advice on how best to improve their own organisations’ diversity, as well as how they can help tackle the issue globally.
Reach for the skies
Attention turns upwards today with the launch of Connected Skies, a one-day conference exploring how the aviation, drone and telecoms industries can work together. Particular excitement is raised around proposals for the use of drones in weather, networking and last-mile applications, and the advances in technologies underpinning them. There is also growing coverage of the urban air mobility sector, with some hesitant but enthusiastic discussion of drone taxis.
Introducing the eSIM
The term eSIM also reaches a growing number of consumers for the first time, not only because it is featured in a number of the new handsets launched, but because a seminar held today by Arm gives journalists valuable quotes to produce explainer articles on the topic. Considerable copy is filed about how these directly embedded programmable SIM cards are the future of the industry, and why this could be a problem for consumers.
Future in focus
The event closes on a high with a keynote exploring what the next thing in connectivity will be, featuring Neuroelectrics founder Ana Maiques, Youth Advocate writer Adora Svitak and JC2 Ventures CEO John Chambers. Blending a mixture of bold and wildly futuristic concepts with more immediate concerns, the keynote is largely positive, portraying a future of progress and positivity built on levels of connectivity unseen at any previous point in human history.
Time to celebrate
Attendees exit the venue on a high, and proceed to flood the city’s bars and nightclubs, celebrating the end of MWC with enthusiasm until the early hours of the morning.
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