Mobile World Congress could see smaller players taking centre stage

Alex Walls
February 20, 2013

With larger players moving away from keeping stalls at Mobile World Congress, analysts say smaller players like Mozilla’s Firefox OS have an opportunity to shine.

Giving the little(r) guys a go

Larger device and platform vendors were increasingly becoming less dependent on MWC, as announcements of products made news on their own, Ovum analyst Nick Dillon said.

This trend is reflective of the power shift in the industry, and these vendors make no secret of the fact that they don’t need MWC or the industry support that can be courted there.”

This meant MWC would be an opportunity for smaller players to take centre stage, he said, including Mozilla’s Firefox OS, Ubuntu for phones and BlackBerry 10.

The “third ecosystem” to effectively challenge the dominancy of Android and iOS was still up for grabs, Mr Dillon said, and 2013 looked like it would be defined by this struggle, as new entrants took on Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

LTE demos

Analyst Daryl Schoolar said LTE-A demonstrations were expected to replace HSPA+ and LTE demos now in commercial deployment.

“In fact, LTE-A demonstrations have already started, with Ericsson and SK Telecom announcing one at the end of January 2013.”

While LTE would be a common buzzword at Mobile World Congress (MWC),  Ovum were looking for a “sense of reality and the acknowledgement that mobile operators are no longer the sole provider of communications services.”


Ovum also expected machine to machine (M2M) applications to take centre stage, such as the connected cars highlighted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier in the year.

M2M was increasingly shifting to an Internet of Things, as focus moved to connecting smart devices to Internet applications, analyst Jeremy Green said.

“We expect that MWC 2013 will see a renewed interest in digital home services, urban infrastructure monitoring, connected car, and consumer electronics management, with operators presenting themselves as the essential partners for enterprises that want to deepen and extend their relationships with their customers.”

This year could see the last throw of the dice for service providers in the M2M space, Mr Green said, in that many hardware manufacturers were looking to bypass service providers, such as in the case of connected home solutions that did not require a service provider thanks to the smartphone app store ecosystem.


Where’d I leave my mobile wallet?

Mobile payments would be a major theme again at MWC and mobile wallets would come under particular scrutiny, analyst Eden Zoller said.

“Mobile wallets stand at the intersection of payments, retail, and advertising, and the opportunities this presents is creating a lot of excitement. There is clearly a lot up for grabs and the last year has seen online players, network operators, financial institutions, and retailers battle for position.”

Ovum expected to see intensified efforts with new product announcements and partnerships, she said, but mobile wallets needed to be given a “serious sanity check”.

“As we explained in the report Mobile Wallets Unwrapped, the excitement is also creating hype that is blinding many to the fact that mobile wallets are challenging propositions that are difficult to get right.”

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