The Mobile World Congress that was held end of February in Barcelona, is the largest mobile trade show of the year. Traditionally, it is where phone constructors, with the exception of Apple, launch their flagship handsets. Here are the main event highlights from our perspective as mobile developers:
- Less wearables and tablets: The MWC2016 didn’t see a huge number of wearables and tablets launched compared to the previous editions. This shows a slow down for these two product segments.
- More virtual reality: The real star of the congress was virtual reality with Samsung showcasing the Samsung Gear VR. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg turned up on stage at the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event to show his support to the Oculus-backed Samsung Gear VR headset. The fact that a virtual reality device can be powered by a smartphone, clearly shows the technological prowess that smartphones have achieved. It will be interesting to see if developers will manage to create compelling virtual reality experiences not only in term of games but also for productivity and social apps.
- LG explores phone modularity: The idea of modular phones is not new. However, it is the first time that a leading constructor materialises it on one of its flagship devices. The LG G5 announced during the MWC2016 has a modular design allowing users to use plug-in accessories to enhance their phone toward a specific use case. Two accessories were revealed during the conference: a companion camera with an additional battery and a Hi-fi module.
- HP bets on corporate windows phones: Few constructors dare to launch their flagship handsets on Windows Phone. HP surprised everyone with a Windows phablet targeted toward the corporate market. The Elite x3 was built with corporate users in mind and will be exclusively distributed through business channels. The key feature of this device is that it fully uses the Microsoft continuum feature that allow users to turn their phone into a PC by plugging it to a display. This niche strategy might be the best chance Microsoft will get to regain its challenger position in the industry.
In conclusion, the mobile industry will not know a new “revolution” moment this year but it is still moving forward with interesting incremental innovations that bring a little bit of novelty in this mature market.