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Highlights from the 2013 Mobile World Congress (MWC), Barcelona

By Anil Damodaran and Sonam Garg

The recently concluded 2013 Mobile World Congress has left behind a trail of trend-setting, innovative ideas and new technologies. From the 25-28th February, the city of Barcelona embraced the highest record of around 60,000 people from 200 different nationalities. The event was held at Fira Gran Via, a new location, providing the infrastructure and space needed for more than 1500 organizations participants. The novelties of the fair centered not only on new mobile devices and their development but also included advances in related fields like cloud-based services, M2M solutions, 3G/4G connectivity applied in sectors like business, transport, finance and urban services amongst others. We take a deeper look at what made the headlines at this year’s Congress.

Mobile Devices:

  • Stealing the limelight this year was Firefox OS, Ubuntu and Sailfish as the new challengers in the device platform space.
  • Mozilla-led Firefox OS saw support from a broad range of operators, with 17 companies having committed to launch devices. It also saw growing vendor support with LG Electronics joining ZTE and Alcatel One Touch (TCL) as launch partners, and Huawei sets to follow later this year.
  • Samsung confirmed its plans to launch Tizen devices in 2013. Operators Orange and NTT Docomo are willing to offer commercial Tizen smartphones in the second half of the year.
  • A tablet version of Ubuntu was showcased, alongside the smartphone version which captured headlines at CES 2013.
Strategies by two big vendors
  • Nokia targets cost-conscious, unconnectedconsumer – Nokia used the Congress to launch four new devices, two in its Lumia range of smartphones powered by Windows Phone, and two Series 30/40 feature phones. All four touted affordability as a key selling point. There were also announcements around apps and location-based services.
  • Sony plans mobile resurrection – Sony Mobile used the Congress to restate the importance of mobile to the parent company’s overall strategy and flesh out its plans to focus on smartphones, promising that 2013 will be a breakthrough year. The company is working hard to regain its place as a tier-one mobile vendor.


  • M2M solutions were at the center stage this year, with connected car, home and health technology on show. The operator and OEM focus is evolving to encompass a wider ecosystem, dubbed the Internet of Things (IoT). This is closely linked with the ‘Big Data’ concept, where vast amounts of data can be analyzed from everywhere, e.g. sensors collecting climate information, mobile phone GPS signals and data from a multitude of other connected objects such as cars, energy meters and homes.
  • Samsung and Visa joined forces in an alliance to encourage greater use of mobile payments via NFC-enabled handsets. There are two aspects of the new alliance. Firstly, Samsung’s next generation NFC handsets will come pre-loaded with the Visa payWave applet; secondly, banks will be able to use a new Visa mobile provisioning service to load users’ account information over the air to secure chips on NFC handsets.

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Anil Damodaran

Anil is an accomplished business leader and marketer with over 15 years of experience in the marketing analytics space. He currently manages Go-To-Market & Product...
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