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Top trends from the Mobile World Congress 2013

Thursday, 28 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Technology advisory firm Ovum has highlighted a number of key trends to emerge from Mobile World Congress 2013, based on announcements from Telefonia, Google and MasterCard.


Mobile World Congress is the world’s premier mobile industry event, showcasing the latest applications of connected technology.


This year’s event, held in Barcelona in Spain, attracted more than 60,000 attendees from the mobile industry, including nine telecoms analysts from Ovum.


Ovum advises on the commercial impact of technology and market changes in telecoms, software and IT services.


The analysts have offered their opinions on the biggest developments, including the following:


Telefonica innovation lab


“Among the achingly cool new technologies demonstrated during our visit to Telefonica’s Barcelona innovation lab were two designed to enhance connectivity,” says Ovum telco strategy analyst Jeremy Green.


“One drew explicitly on P2P principles to enable home Wi-Fi users to aggregate bandwidth with their neighbours via a simple hardware plug-in device.


“The other innovation allowed 3G devices connected to a home Wi-Fi router to provide additional broadband backhaul when loading conditions permit.


“This is a neat and clever reversal of the conventional Wi-Fi offload model, achieved through a lightweight app on a smartphone.


“The implications of this for user experience, and also for network economics, are potentially very significant.”


Google music streaming could dent Spotify growth


“Google’s new music streaming service is… sure to cause a major stir in the offices of Spotify and Apple,” says Ovum consumer analyst Mark Little.


“If Google can negotiate a deal that embeds the new service in Android and fully leverages other assets… then the internet prime has the potential to take a significant slice of the $5.6 billion digital music market as well as make a dent in Spotify and Apple iTunes growth.


“Whilst the possibilities are exciting, there are still a few barriers it must work hard to resolve.


“[For example,] it remains to be seen how a Google-branded subscription service will be viewed by a digital population increasingly wary of the company’s handling of its personal data.


“Given the length of past negotiations with Apple and Spotify, the launch of a fully thought-through Google music streaming proposition in September might be a little optimistic.”


MasterCard launches MasterPass payments platform


Earlier in the week, MasterCard launched a new merchant-focused mobile payments platform called MasterPass.


MasterPass allows consumers to pay for goods and services using a variety of means including near-field communications (NFC), QR codes and barcodes.


It also links to MasterCard’s existing PayPass Wallet, which can store multiple credit cards, gift cards and loyalty programs.


“Providing consumers with multiple payment options is a good move as too often mobile wallets and merchant acceptance solutions are tied to just one technology,” says Eden Zoller, a principal analyst in Ovum’s consumer division.


“This is particularly the case with NFC. Although shipments of NFC-enabled smartphones are increasing, the installed base is still very modest.


“A critical success factor for mobile payments is the ability to scale, and supporting a mix of enabling technologies will help to achieve this.”