My Insights from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona

Gilad Bechar

Wow, I love attending the MWC; seeing friends and competitors, being amazed and learning new things. This year, however, a lot of that action was missing. While I did get to see many people, I was saddened upon entering hall 8.1, which traditionally hosted most of the mobile ad-tech companies. ???

In the past, hall 8.1 was a colorful and fun hall to be in. Definitely THE place to be. Amazing booths, innovative companies, crazy parties – indeed an action packed hall. This year, however, it was evident to see the extent of how much this industry was hurt. Companies which usually dazzled us with the biggest and prettiest booths didn’t even participate. Moreover, there was no representation of ASO companies, which flocked the booths in the past 2 years.

Big Data Out, Anti-Fraud In

A very noticeable trend was the move of many companies from providing straightforward data, to offering more complex and advanced information. Instead of giving down-right reports about the campaigns for example, what worked and what didn’t, they offer you the possibility to monitor your competitors’ campaigns, creative directions, estimated results and more. While this is a natural development for such companies, I couldn’t shake the feeling all these companies are doing pretty much the same thing, and the market is becoming more sophisticated on the one hand, yet narrower on the other. 

Is this good or bad? I guess a bit of both. But it increases the prices of these services, often for no reason. Yes, sometimes you want these advanced capabilities, however you often need down-right information. This is what’s missing to me most with this trend. 

Technology is Key

I went to the conference with the following shocking data in my head; during Q4 of 2017, less new devices were bought in comparison to the same period in 2016. In numbers, it translates to roughly 30 million less devices sold. Why is this so shocking? Because it was the first time in the past few years this has happened. The mobile market is slowing down, and the feeling is that everything that can be invented has already been invented, and the users cannot be surprised anymore. 

This was indeed reflected with what I saw in Barcelona. A lot of VR glasses and games (see videos below), which are not new at all. Truth be told, though, the activities were amazing and the operating companies definitely took it up a notch. Still, nothing new… 

Adding to that are the new devices that were introduced. Comparing that to iPhones launches in the past, with dozens of new features, this year every company tried to convince us that their phone is the strongest and most water resistant. 

Next time, please amaze me with something new! ?

Better and Faster Than Ever

To sum it up, the focus is on doing more of the same as now, only faster and better. A lot of buzz around 5G, self-driving autonomous cars, home-robots (although not tomorrow, but we are getting there) and more. Life is smarter but not renewed at all.

With a year until we reunite in Barcelona, I really hope I will be introduced to new things that will blow my mind… 

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