Monday, 04 March 2013

Mobile World Congress 2013 highlights - The Mobile Horizon

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Johannesburg, March 4, 2013 - Mobile World Congress  (MWC) 2013 kicked off in style in Barcelona this week as the city came alive with over 70 000 visitors from around the world.  

Innovation in the mobile space is in full swing fostering seemingly endless discoveries and development. From contactless payments to embedded devices and connected cities ­– it is evident that mobile technology is changing the landscape and the impact it will have on the world is limitless.

This year the conference offered a truly integrated NFC Experience for the first time, as four partners Visa Europe, Gemalto, CaixaBank and mobile operator Telefónica came together to deliver a mobile contactless payment experience, distributing NFC mobile phones to 3,500 delegates.  Visitors were then encouraged to experience mobile contactless payments in the city.

Commenting on the predominance of NFC at this year’s congress, Sandra Alzetta, Senior Vice President at Visa Europe, said: “Contactless transaction numbers quadrupled across Europe in 2012 and will quadruple again this year. In the UK there are now more than 2.5 million contactless transactions every month. There is a natural evolution from contactless cards to mobile devices and we’ve seen a fantastic response from the markets where this kind of service is commercially available.”

“MWC, with its numerous meeting points and bustling activity, is the perfect environment to experience the speed and convenience of contactless services,” added Jean-Claude Deturche, Senior Vice President Mobile Financial Services at Gemalto, the world leader in digital security. “Gemalto is at the heart of 50 mobile NFC projects, with many of the world’s leading Mobile Operators, Banks, Retailers, Transport Operators and Service Providers. Global adoption is on its way with payment being one of the pillar services in the NFC ecosystem.”

Apart from contactless payments, MWC 2013 provided a showcase for a host of trends ranging from augmented reality, to embedded devices and connected cities. The App Planet Hall, for example, brought together more than 12,000 application developers, and mPowered Brands provided a meeting point for the world’s largest consumer brands, to accelerate marketers’ knowledge of mobile as a marketing medium.

Several major organizations have made some key announcements during the show, from Samsung launching its new tablet, to Huawei announcing the thinnest handset yet, (which includes an NFC chip).

If there’s one thing that Mobile World Congress 2013 has taught us so far, it is that ‘the Internet of things’ is well and truly here to stay.

Steve Girsky, vice chairman of General Motors talked up the possibilities of M2M in his address. He claimed that the automobile was the original mobile device, starting the trend for personal travel, which has made mobile communications so essential.

As a result, he believes manufacturers should always be innovating with in-car technology. Gemalto attracted plenty of attention at MWC with its own in-car technology, when announcing a world first: the selection of its automotive M2M technology to equip the Audi A3 car.

Thanks to the solution, drivers will benefit from full-4G connectivity inside the car with multimedia streaming and downloads, plus a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot for up to eight devices. Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M technology makes this all possible by being harder-wearing and longer-lasting than other alternatives, making it ideal for the automotive sector.

The Mobile World Congress clearly showed that mobile is more pervasive than ever before and soon nearly everything around us, people and things, will be connected. Mobile has forever changed the way we communicate, the way we conduct business, the way we manage our lives, and the way we are entertained. The possibilities for future innovations are virtually endless.