Every year the global mobile community comes together in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress to have a look at the latest smartphones and trends in the mobile world. After the Galaxy Note disaster in 2016, Samsung will get a lot of attention. It’s expected that they will present the new Samsung Galaxy S8 – this device will be critical to the success of Samsung. But Mobile World Congress is much more than gadgets.
Under the surface of the end-user device, there are a lot of hardware and software systems that are crucial for a seamless user experience – without connectivity and smart software a smartphone is just a very expensive brick. From the perspective of a product design and engineering company, there are three topics that will be interesting in this year’s edition.
OTT goes mobile
Services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are hugely successful. Netflix added 7 million new subscribers just in the last quarter of 2016 and has now 93.8 million subscribers worldwide
. Also, Netflix added the feature of offline availability for video content beginning of December. According to Cisco mobile video traffic accounted for 60 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2016
. So, the trend is more than obvious, and the demand for bandwidth will continue to grow, but telco providers will move from just distributing the content to create and offer their own content. They become media companies. Next, to great content, the seamless user experience is key. This means capable and scalable back-end systems and state of the presentation on the mobile device.
The first movers mentioned in the beginning have an advantage, and telco providers must quickly follow if they want to be successful. So, either go the AT&T way and acquire a media company or bring in external expertise. We can expect some interesting movements in video industry which will lead to more acquisitions and market consolidation in 2017. The most interesting battle of giants is still ahead of us. I personally believe that Disney or even Facebook can make some very interesting deals which will disrupt the current video-on-demand market as we know it. Imagine Netflix being acquired by Facebook which would become a full media company with high-quality content. This could also boost Netflix plans in further developing VR features which we heard of from Mark Zuckerberg during several interviews.
Microservices adding agile to IT systems
Competition in the telecom industry is fierce. End-users strive for the cheapest contract while expecting superior services and regulators such as the European Commission cut sources of income such as roaming fees. Therefore, telecom providers need effective underlying systems which are scalable, agile and cost-efficient at the same time.
This can be achieved with a concept called Microservices. Microservices is a specialization of an implementation approach for service-oriented architectures (SOA). It is used to build flexible, independently deployable software components. They are capsuled services which have only one purpose and can be easily replaced and deployed. The services communicate over standardized APIs but are flexible with regards to programming languages, technology stack or used database.
This adds flexibility to the whole system as improvements and changes can be implemented very quickly. Next, to that, Microservices are designed to run in virtualized and automated environments. Therefore, they are highly scalable – especially important when we look at topics such as the mentioned above OTT. Time to market is one of the most critical issues in fast moving industries such as the telecom sector, and Microservices are a tool to achieve this, and we see the market adopting it.
Augmented Reality – the smarter manual
Augmented and virtual reality are not a new trend topic. And it is also not one that we will see hugely implemented this year. But we will see progress on their way to the mass market. There are a lot of rumors about the coming iPhone 8 and VR and looking at the past it always needed Apple to elevate a trend from the niche to the mass market – iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch.
Augmented Reality on the other side is closer to realization as it provides usage cases that are outside of the consumer market. Which might not be ready yet for this kind of device; remember the reactions to Google Glasses. The business and industry side is more advanced and there we can see movement. Looking at people and getting additional data is perceived as creepy, but think of the same situation for a field technician who is maintaining a cell tower. He doesn’t need to carry around a dozen manuals to fix a problem, but simply AR glasses and a smartphone or tablet. The glasses recognize the broken device and provide the step by step description on how to fix it – just in the field of vision of the technician.
Similar use case could be implemented in a manufacturing site – either for the production or the quality assurance. Basically, every time when you need a manual and a checklist you can replace it with some smart AR glasses.
So, there will be some new smartphones which are even lighter, brighter, flatter or faster, but the innovation will take place somewhere else. intive is present at the MWC, so if you would like to discuss one of the topics above, we would be happy to meet up.