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Big Ideas in Barcelona: Takeaways from Mobile World Congress 2016

A few months ago, LMG had the pleasure of supporting a client on-site at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. The event spanned eight massive exhibition halls, featured 2,200 exhibitors, and included four full days of keynote presentations, panel sessions, and other events. More than 3,600 media representatives were also on hand to cover the conference, and if they have somehow failed to document, analyze, or publicize any overlooked aspect of the show by now, it’s probably not worth knowing.

Acknowledging that providing thorough coverage or unheard-of insights is at best a quixotic quest (shout-out to hometown hero Cervantes!), I’m free to share some individual, anecdotal observations from what was, truly, a groundbreaking event—for reasons far beyond the record-setting attendance of some 101,000 participants from 204 countries.

To boil things down to a manageable level, I’ll focus on three key themes or stories from MWC 2016: Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, and Mobile Empowerment. I’ll devote a full blog entry to each topic in the coming weeks, but it’s worth touching on them briefly here.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been in the news for years, but in 2016 this breakthrough technology is finally making the leap from mind-blowing sci-fi concept to must-have consumer products and business assets. Mobile World Congress featured VR roller coasters, submarines, skydiving experiences, and more—along with promises and proclamations that soared every bit as high and delved just as deep.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is another term/trend that is hardly new for 2016, but this year it threatened to take over the conference. IoT merited its own dedicated exhibit space (three, actually, if you include the wearables pavilion and GSMA Innovation City), guided tour, speaker sessions, and contest for startups. IoT also wove its way into countless booths, demos, deals, and more. True to its nature, IoT was everywhere, and continues to expand.

Mobile Empowerment

It may seem redundant to state that an event devoted to mobile technology showcased how mobile can make life better. However, mobile empowerment goes far beyond increasing entertainment, convenience, and efficiency for those already all-in with mobile. On a more basic level, mobile can have a life-changing impact for millions of individuals struggling with poverty, poor health, isolation, and injustice around the world.

Watch for more on each of these topics—including Internet-enabled pets, plants, and parking meters—in the weeks to come.