Top Highlights From Mobile World Congress 2017

5G, mobile payments, AI dominated the conference

The annual Mobile World Congress took place this week, attracting some of the biggest and most promising names in the world of technology. Taking place over three days in the Spanish city of Barcelona, the conference attracted around 100,000 people from countries around the world, and saw the launch of multiple new technologies and devices. One of the most discussed topics was the new 5G data transfer technology. Whilst there is still no precise definition of the connection speed required to call technology 5G, Intel’s Aicha Evans told the conference that it was a “revolution” in connectivity. Evans told the BBC that the addition of 5G to everyday life would see a change akin to that of the difference made by smartphones. Meanwhile, Enrico Salvatori from Qualcomm added at the event that the implementation of 5G into global markets would not only affect the smartphone sector, but give way to a new range of products born out of the Internet of Things. Research from O2 into the effects of the introduction of 5G even found that it would likely add 7 billion pounds to the UK economy by 2026. Another hot topic at Mobile World Congress was mobile payments. MasterCard announced a new partnership with Oracle in order to allow users to pay for services and goods in advance with their mobile device. It was also announced that a survey performed at the Mobile World Congress by GSMA showed that mobile payments were seen as a huge opportunity by businesses. When visitors and exhibitors were asked what they thought was the largest opportunity in 2017, mobile payments came in second place with 14% of the votes, behind the Internet of Things. This comes during a period of growth for the mobile payment market, after a survey by The Financial Brand found that 36% of consumers bought a physical product with a mobile device in 2016, compared to just 24% in 2014. Multiple new mobile devices were also launched at the event, including the rebirth of the highly successful Nokia 3310. However, whilst Nokia released its nostalgic device, it also announced a state-of-the-art handset, along with LG and Huawei. Large brands at the conference made it clear that they were preparing themselves for the future. Robert Topol, Intel’s head of 5G Business and Technology, said at the company’s stand that it was planning to be “very aggressive” with new technologies. He added that Intel had “talked with mobile handset makers” to ensure that if 5G technology “exploded”, it would be ready. Messaging apps were also big at the conference, after multiple companies announced updates to their current messaging platforms. Google and Samsung both evolved their own chat apps to move them away from SMS and towards its replacement technology RCS. Also, Line and Naver revealed a jointly-developed virtual assistant named Clova. The new Clova assistant is based on Line’s chat-app and Naver’s AI technology. Line’s CEO says that it “incorporates various AI technology, including voice, visual and [a] conversation engine". Development in the mobile industry as a whole took a further step forward with the announcement of more self-driving cars, connected wearables, and other hi-tech devices. All changes were driven by advances in AI and the sudden rise of 5G. 

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