The latest edition of Mobile World Congress offered more evidence that the race to invent the next revolutionary gadget or device has shifted in favor of focusing on the technology that drives those devices. Artificial intelligence is beginning to take center stage.
Mardien Drew, Head of Mobile and Incubation of New Technologies at Kantar said: “It’s my fifth year at the show this year. There has been a much more exciting buzz around Mobile World Congress this year. When I arrived at Monday morning, there were many more people – more than in previous years.”
That being said, the MWC turned out not to be a place of mind-blowing gadgets and inventions.
“I didn’t see many things at this year’s conference that would be considered ‘mind blowing’. I did see some cool technology, for example, at the SONY booth, there was a projector device (Xperia Touch) that could project content onto a table, or onto a wall,” she said. “But, actually, I had already seen that last year. I went to a small meeting room at the Fujitsu stand where they showed a prototype doing exactly the same thing.
“So, in fact, nothing actually ‘new’, but I suppose as it has a specific use case, it’s no longer a prototype, and SONY is launching this an actual device, more buzz is to be expected,” she said.
Mardien also met Spencer Kelly, the host of BBC’s famous technology programme Click. He also agreed that nothing “mind-blowing” either. Spencer mentioned the closest cool thing is Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which can take super slow motion pictures (960 frames per second) with a 4K 5.46 inch display. It has later been awarded by MWC 2017 as the “Best New Smartphone”.
“Spencer and I agreed that it’s much more about artificial intelligence right now. This is what drives all of the technology,” she said. “Artificial intelligence isn’t something you can show off as a device because it underpins a lot of capabilities. You see stands like IBM showcasing Watson, which is all about machine learning and AI.
“This will become important for Kantar because it could help us understand different patterns and different data sets – at a much faster speed. It could also help us see trends and patterns that one can’t spot with the human eye. At Kantar we are already experimenting with AI,” Mardien said.
Guy Rolfe, Mobile Practice Leader at Kantar, agreed that this year has been even busier than previous years. He has noticed quite a lot of competitiveness this year because a number of stands are pushing the same offers. Handset manufacturers and device makers brought some new things, but the service companies have been lagging behind.
“If you look at everything in a big picture: the technology and devices are improving – they have greater functionality, are catering for all ends of the market [cheap end of the market to expensive end of the market], and are catering for niches, for example, creative users,” he said. “There are new devices that you can draw on, take really nice photos with, or use to project images – but the services side of things seem to have stood still this year.”