10 things you should know about Mobile World Congress 2016
Mobile World Congress is coming to town. In case you didn’t know, the world’s biggest congress of mobile technologies has been held in Barcelona for the past 10 years, and all being well, will continue to be held here until at least 2023. According to predictions, the 2016 edition will beat all possible records: we are expecting more than 100.000 visitors, 4.000 journalists, 100% hotel occupancy, 13.000 temporary job positions and 400 million euros of associated spend in Barcelona.
For more facts, figures and curiosities read on…
This year’s theme is…
Normally, each edition of the Mobile World Congress is marked by a new trend: in 2015 it was virtual reality, in 2014 the Internet of Things, in 2013 wearables… The slogan of this year´s edition is “Mobile is everything” and the conference programme suggests that this year we´ll see a lot of mobile devices with innovative formats as well as mobile technologies in new fields, for example, connected cars since there will be speakers from brands such as Ford and Mercedes, and Samsung will also offer a session on cars.
A programme you wouldn´t like to miss
If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience Mobile World Congress before, you should know that the event consists of three main blocks. The first one is the conferences, dozens each day and all related to mobile technologies. The second is the exhibition zone where more than 2.000 companies show their novelties: phones, tablets, wearables, apps… The third block consists of a dozen of parallel events; including events focused on connected women and the digital media, among others. Plus hundreds of parties and events organized for brands by their long suffering PR agencies. It´s a mission impossible to go to all of them but you can at least try.
All the big companies will be present… or almost all
The list of companies that will participate in Mobile World Congress is endless: from the device manufacturers such as Lenovo, Samsung, and Huawei, to the major IT companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, as well as the main Internet companies Yahoo!, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.. However, there are two brands which you may expect to see but who don’t show up. In fact their absence attracts a lot of attention: Google, who don’t participate directly, but make their presence felt via their mobile software Android; and Apple, who only attend their own events, but even so always manage to steal the limelight.
Zuckerberg and Hamilton will be the stars of the event
This year´s protagonists will be Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook (putting in an appearance for the third consecutive year); and Formula 1 Champion, Lewis Hamilton. They will be joined by executives from some of the most important companies in the technology sector such as Intel, PayPal, Qualcomm, Telefónica, Cisco, etc. and other top executives from other sectors e.g.: the Presidents of Ford and Getty Images.
Five Spanish companies nominated for the “Glomo”, the Oscars of the mobile phones
Another important aspect at the Mobile World Congress are the Global Mobile Awards, also known as “Glomo”, which reward the most innovative companies. As with the Hollywood Oscars, there are lots of categories: The Connected Life Awards, Best Mobile Services, Social & Economic Development, Best Mobile Handsets & Devices, etc. This year, five Spanish companies are among the nominees: ABC newspaper, Telefónica, Vodafone Spain, Orange Spain and Digital Legends, a video games company.
Another year with record figures… and record prices
Each edition of the Mobile World Congress beats previous records. This year, it is expected that the Congress will surpass 100.000 visitors from 200 countries and almost 4.000 journalists (and believe us, we know how difficult it is to get a press pass). ICAR, a company founded at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, will be in charge of registering and verifying assistants at the Mobile World Congress with via an app and with a system of scanners at the entrance to avoid large queues. (yeah yeah and what about the queue for the taxis?). Additionally, 2.300 exhibitors will show their novelties along nine pavilions spread over 100.000m2 in two different trade show areas, in Fira Gran Vía and Fira Montjuïc. Another figure that will take your breath away is that the cheapest entrance fee is a bargain 749 euros and the most expensive is an eye-watering 4.999 euros.
10th anniversary with Barcelona
This edition of the Mobile World Congress is the 10th time that it has been held in Barcelona. Few people remember that until 2005 the congress was held in Cannes (France) under the name of 3GSM World and its dimensions were much more modest. In 2006 it was moved to Barcelona and since then its success has skyrocketed to become one of the biggest technology events, as shown in this infographic. And this beneficial relationship will continue until at least 2023, thanks to the agreement that has been reached recently.
The event of the year for Barcelona
It may sound strange that Mobile World Congress gets so much attention because in fact it is not the biggest trade show held in Barcelona; for example, the International Motor Show in Barcelona received more than 750.000 visitors last year. The key differentiating factor with Mobile World Congress is the visitor profile: more than 50% of MWC visitors are top international executives, who spend a lot of money during their stay in Barcelona. Sales in shops close to the trade show multiply during those days. Participating companies also invest a lot to increase their brand visibility at the event, up to the point that the MWC generates 40% of total annual income of the Barcelona Trade Show Center (Fira de Barcelona).
This edition will create 13.000 job positions and will fully hotels
The impact of the Mobile World Congress is also important for the economy of Barcelona: this year´s edition will generate 13.000 job positions, temporary, but very welcome taking into consideration Spain’s high unemployment rate. Additionally, this year, 200 people at risk of social exclusion have been hired thanks to the agreement between the City Council of l´Hospitalet and Caritas. Other sectors that will benefit from the fair include: hotels, whose prices can be so much as quadrupled (if you´re lucky enough to get an available room, if not the Canela team have some sofas for rent), restaurants, off site spaces where companies organize events, taxis… To sum up, the MWC leaves behind an injection of 400 million euros in the city of Barcelona. Not bad for a four day event.
The dark side of the Mobile World Congress: crowd, strikes and police shields
If you are a peace-loving queue-hating enochlophobic (fear of crowds) then my advice to you is to stay away. It’s quite simply a nightmare. The airport of Barcelona will have a 40% increase in flight traffic next week. Barcelona’s public transport system will almost undoubtedly be in a state of collapse even though they have promised to increase journey frequencies. But don’t despair, the big novelty this year is the launch of the new underground line, line 9, which connects the airport directly with the Conference centre. You never know it might make all the difference. Although it’s doubtful given that strikes on the underground, local rail and buses are being threatened, even the urban police don’t want to be left out and may also go out on strike. So, basically, if you’re coming to Mobile World Congress, all we can do is wish you the best of luck. We hope you enjoy it, or at least survive it and if you need anything while you’re here please just give us a shout firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which technology do you think will have the leading role at the Mobile World Congress 2016?
Images courtesy of GSMA/Mobile World Congress