As an industry analyst, Thomas Husson remembers the first time he attended 3GSM in Cannes.
“It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centred on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms,” he recalls.
Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the centre of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5).
“Some things don’t change,” Husson says. “We will continue to hear too much about technology.
“Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years.”
However, Husson believes the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses.
The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators).
“It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years,” Husson observes, “not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business.”
Consequently, Husson “strongly believes” that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?
“First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally,” he explains.
“People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas.”
As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”.
So much so that Husson believes it has already “cannibalised” several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries.
“Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world,” Husson adds. “It is not just another “subdigital” channel.
“This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.”
For marketers attending or following the event, Husson sees the main announcements falling in two categories:
1. Mobile as the hub of new connected experiences
As is often the case at MWC, the buzz will continue to centre on the spring/summer collection of new devices, which Husson usually refers to as the “Asian device spec fashion week.”
Samsung is very likely to announce its new Galaxy S6 flagship device, while HTC will show off the One/M9.