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Postcards from MWC 2012: A Journey Through Mobile Devices, Infrastructure and Applications


By: Giovanni Fruscio

Finally a journey through the booths! It’s extremely important to understand the focus for the upcoming years and, for the first time, what are the real challenges for LTE now that deployments have started and Operators are looking at how to operate and monetize the investment.

In terms of infrastructure, Small Cells (and roaming to SP WiFi, 3G/4G handover to Wifi and vice-versa), Mobile Cloud and Machine to Machine platforms represent a key focus, while mobile security is a common challenge being faced. Mobile Cloud Solutions allow for Virtualizing the user’s “persona” being it private or professional (and you can switch between them with a finger in just microseconds), running it either locally on the phone/tablet or remotely in the Data Center. In the latter case, you won’t need to backup data as it’s always stored in a central secure location. And, again, if you loose the phone you won’t loose any data and no data can be stolen.

From a device perspective, the Samsung’s valzer opens on the note ... You’d expect something more here, but, instead, they fully dedicated about 12 square kilometers to the Galaxy Note 10.1, based on Android 4.0 ... Even if they are pushing for the new BADA OS. A clear indication that in the battle among OSs are there just Android and iOS left? Let’s have a look later to the App Zone ...

Walking through the Android Area I realize it’s really huge and supported by dozens of partners. On the left corner, the scrolling belt presents literally hundreds of new terminals, and I’m just wondering what will be the differentiating characteristic that will make successful a model or another one. Maybe either the form factor (e.g. I saw a slim android phone being ejected by a slim container with the display and keyboard of a laptop and three batteries in common) or just the different combinations of available features or characteristics that could fit an application or another (e.g. Screen size, bearer, cpu, etc.).

Now let’s move to the App Planet (what a scenographic entrance !!!) and in the corridor the first big screen appearing, shows: “Windows - Virtual Memory Minimum Too Low”. An horrible premonition ...

At the GSMA Mobile Cloud Forum Service Providers representatives brought important messages to the mobile community, reported here below:

  1. with the widening of the access interface with LTE, security becomes more and more important, especially for corporations using mobile services. Despite security should be proportional to the threat and not to the size of the corporation, service providers have in most cases more resources and a better infrastructure to mitigate security threats than most of the enterprises have or can build on their own. That is, using the Service Providers’ access and applications could be a clear advantage in terms of security;
  2. the customers of Mobile Cloud Services should always experience the different classes of services he subscribed to, regardless of the network they are roaming to, thus creating the need for interconnection among Clouds;
  3. it’s extremely important the “alloy” between Network and Cloud because a mission critical application (premium service, not necessarily bandwidth intensive like video), should always have priority over a non-mission critical application (like social networks, OTT video, etc.) that should be possibly offloaded over a cheaper infrastructure like SP WiFi;
  4. the network and cloud infrastructure should provide the developers with open APIs (including non sensitive subscriber data and interfaces to billing systems). No mention to the opportunity to standardize them.

Enriched by the discussion, next step is to take a look at real applications being developed, how to monetize them and the different issues and innovation brought by the developers. It was interesting to find Nokia booth here, where the “world’s best camera phone” is presented. This is clearly their way of differentiating in this competitive market, even if it’s unclear the OS strategy with regard to Android. In terms of monetization, the Ovi Store’s revenues growing and they represent an interesting OTT player in this sense, as they have an important market share.

As expected, most developments are in the direction of Web and Mobile Messaging, as opposed to voice and SMS, having been the majority part of the Service Providers’ revenues in the past but currently slowing down and declining, to some extent. Mobile Collaborative video shopping would allow for discussing remotely with friends about goods actually available in a physical shop (by using the camera to zoom on shirts, trousers, etc.) and this can easily lead to veeeery long conversations ...

Mobile Advertisement is clearly another area of development, as web advertising investments have for the first time surpassed the ones on other media and Mobile Access is clearly the future of accessing the web.

Interestingly, Intel has built the so called “Appup” program for HTML5+, delivering SDK and resources to developers and financing interesting projects. Moreover, they will share revenues of applications with the developers.

Moving to the Blackberry area, I had the opportunity to experience a new way of collaborating, that is people with tablets in a conference room can put the tablets on the table and compose a single screen dynamically, with the automatic sharing of information and presentations, but still keeping contents locally. In order to send a document or a piece of presentation to another tablet, you’d just need to shift quickly the finger on the screen in the peer’s direction and the document magically appears on the other tablet. What an application !!!

In the developer’s area, you can really breathe the IT atmosphere, with a whiteboard, people eating pizza, sharing ideas and discussing ... And the most used word on the whiteboard is “API” ... Perfect fit for the SP’s idea of monetization.

The last visit to Sling’s booth where a live demo on a home set-top-box accessed remotely with a 3G/WiFi tabled showed HD channel experienced on the move.

Is this the main application for LTE networks or will the Mobile Operators, offload these to WiFi networks while keeping their premium services over LTE spectrum?

We’ll see the answer in the upcoming months ... 

More Resources

Take a Look: Cisco Demos at MWC 2012 By: Giovanni Fruscio
MWC 2012: EMEAR Service Providers Emerging Theatre Reception Event By: Giovanni Fruscio
Expectations for Mobile World Congress 2012 By: Giovanni Fruscio

Cisco Goes Big Into Small Cells By: Kurt Rosenthal

MWC Goes Down In History, Not In Flames By: Kurt Rosenthal

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