2013 Mobile World Congress Wrapup

As February closed, 72,000 mobile industry players and enthusiasts from over 200 countries flocked to Barcelona for the 2013 Mobile World Conference, the world’s largest mobile industry event. While Samsung claimed the top prizes of Outstanding Overall Mobile Technology, Device Manufacturer of the Year and Best Smartphone (among others), Samsung also announced an innovative new security solution, KNOX. However, it was not the only company to make a big splash. Several others announced products and partnerships that left people talking.

Here are some stand-out impressions and reflections on this year’s congress from a few of our favorite tech blogs:

Wireless Intelligence broke down its impressions of MWC 2013 into three categories: devices, services and networks. Out of all the smartphone operating systems introduced this year, Wireless Intelligence found the Samsung-backed Tizen and Firefox OS to stand above the rest. Both systems focused on “openness” and aim to “provide a way for operators and vendors to reduce the influence of Google in the mass-market smartphone space. One of the most prominent themes of this year’s conference was the concept of connect everything from your car, home and health technologies to an entire city. Car manufacturers made their presences known with vehicles on display throughout the exhibition promoting the “connected car concept.” As for Network news, Qtel announced a rebranding effort that will affect 92 million customers. The company aims to consolidate its global efforts by operating under the new name “ooredoo,” which translates to “I want” in Arabic.

Mobile Marketer’s MWC reflections pointed out that although Android and iOS are the dominant operating systems right now, it wasn’t long ago that Blackberry was on top in the OS market. While Blackberry and Windows are trying to make a name for themselves, Tizen seems to be one of the new emerging operating systems; better watch out Android and iOS. Tizen is backed by large companies such as Intel and Samsung and the HTML5-based operating system has support from multiple European wireless carriers. HTML5 is showcased as a way of creating mobile apps that run off the Internet rather than a specific phone platform.

eWeek was very impressed with the presence of cars this year at MWC. Car companies Ford and General Motors are integrating mobile technology not only in their dashboards but into the entertainment systems as well.

A major theme which most carrier executives who spoke at MWC touched upon is the need for carriers to continue expanding revenue streams even though the number of subscribers has peaked. One of the most prominent strategies carriers are taking to address this challenge is expansion of the types of connected devices beyond the phone. Carriers are aggressively exploring how to turn cars and even household appliances into connected devices, enabling carriers to deliver more subscription services even if they cannot sell more phone service.

Forbes’s Maribel Lopez gave her take on MWC officially making the transition to become a premiere enterprise mobility show with the majority of companies actively working to improve or offer BYOD solutions. Samsung made waves on the security issue with KNOX, while VMWare demonstrated VMware Horizon Workspace, which allows employees to securely access corporate applications across mobile devices, PCs and virtual desktops.

TechHive offered its own impressions from MWC based mainly on the increased size of tablets and phones, particularly the 7-inch Fonepad, as well as some exciting products set to debut later this year like Atmel’s flexible touchscreen technology and the mobile version of the Ubuntu OS.

Strategic Analytics focused on the non-device news from this year’s conference. Specifically, Samsung’s alliance with VISA as well as Nokia’s HERE expanding to compete with WP8 devices and other operating systems. You can also check out this blog for detailed daily accounts of press conferences and other MWC events.

Nokia made a big impact at MWC this year by introducing their Nokia Lumia 520and 720, along with their Nokia 301 and 105. Nokia also brought news of the arrival of its HERE suite, which will be a great asset on any windows phone for everyday experiences such as finding that coffee shop where you are meeting your blind date. Nokia left MWC this year with a total of nine awards in hand! Some of those awards included Best Feature or Entry Level Phone: Nokia Asha 305, Best Budget Smartphone: Nokia Lumia 520 and Best Accessory: Nokia Wireless Car Holder.

Android Central gave its opinions on the Android related devices and technologies from the conference. Aside from the approving reviews of the new venue, Samsung impressed with the announcement of the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the Android-based TV streaming box, Samsung Homesync. However, the announcements Samsung didn’t make seemed to cause more of a stir.

CNET offered a video that gave an overview of the tablets announced at MWC, along with some hands-on demos of these tablets. There were so many announcements this year at MWC and there seemed to be a ton of Phablets and Tablets everywhere you turned. Chinese manufacturers, ZTE and Huawei, are looking like the next generation Samsung with the introduction of their tablets, ZTE Grand Memo and Huawei Ascend P2. Here is a closer look at the tablets and phablets announced this year. Which of these tablets would you choose?

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
    • 8-inch display
    • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
    • Wi-Fi only (in U.S.)
    • Available spring 2013
    • Price TBA
  • ZTE Grand Memo
    • Huge 5.7-inch display
    • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
    • Quad-core snapdragon processor
    • Price and availability TBA
  • Huawei Ascend P2
    • “World’s fastest 4G smartphone”
    • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
    • 4.7-inch display
    • Quad-core processor
    • 13 megapixel camera
    • $525
    • Available mid-2013
  • HP Slate 7
    • 7-inch android tablet
    • Dual quad-core processor
    • Front and rear camera
    • $169
    • Available April 2013
  • LG Optimus Pro Phablet
    • 5.5-inch display
    • 4.1 Android Jelly Bean
    • Quad-core processor
    • 13 megapixel camera
    • Price is dependent on the carrier
    • Available spring 2013
  • Asus Padfone Infinity
    • 5-inch LTE smartphone that docks and can become a 10 inch android tablet
    • 4.2 Android Jelly Bean
    • Quad-core snapdragon processor
    • $999 EU
    • Available April 2013, but only in the UK

Intomobile offers several hands-on posts and reviews of the conference’s top products as well as detailed booth tours of the companies that unveiled them. Check out all these posts here.

On the YouTube channel, Mobile World Live, subscribers were given a simple 4:00 minute wrapup of this year’s conference. While there were multiple launches for new handsets and tablets, even bigger ideas seemed to be affordability of and accessibility to handsets for everyone.

What stood out most to you at MWC 2013?