Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

What do you think Mobile World Congress (MWC) has in store for us this February? What do you think will be the main attractions and trends being highlighted, and why?

   

Rainer Deutschmann, T-Mobile executive VP, mobile internet:

In 2009 we foresee two major trends that we also expect to be highlighted at MWC in February. First, the mobile internet will truly reach the mass market with the release of new, attractive devices, the proliferation of open platforms, and ever more powerful networks. Many of our recent activities have been indicative of this direction; our successful launch of the iPhone and the first ever Androidbased phone, T-Mobile G1 with Google; our new open and web standardised widget platform web’n’walk; the substantial market uptake of our ‘1 EUR netbooks’, and our recent live LTE trial.

Second, the mobile phone as a central hub for communication, entertainment and business will increasingly become the connection between communities, applications and devices including the PC and TV. Users will expect to easily access, share and

Rainer Deutschmann, T-Mobile executive VP
manage their digital assets everywhere they go irrespective of the device they may use. We anticipate services to break the silos and create attractive and open ecosystems, based on partnerships between the relevant players of operators, internet companies, and devices manufacturers.
 

James Browning, 20:20 managing director:

I think that like pretty much any other trade fair in 2009, there will be a lot of nervousness across the industry as we all come to terms with the severity of the economic downturn, particularly as it looks in Europe and North America.

But I’m clear that the industry still has a good story to tell. Total mobile sales across the world continue to grow, with nearly two out of three people on the planet now in possession of one. So in the longer term, the mobile market is incredibly robust, with mobile technologies having a truly transformative effect on everyday life. It’s important that our short term difficulties don’t disguise this fact; although, as I say, there may be metaphorical storm clouds hanging over Barcelona this year in particular.

James Browing
 

Jeremy Newing, LG UK mobile marketing head:

We have well and truly entered the touchscreen generation, and innovation in this technology was a key driver for handsets in 2008. One of the main focuses for LG at MWC 2009 will be how we are now going to take these handsets to the next level.

The user interface (UI) of a mobile device has become just as important as its features. Consumers want access to these features through a sophisticated but easy to use UI. LG’s handsets will continue to develop to incorporate new and improved ways of navigating around the devices, paying particular attention to usability and speed.

2008 was also a year for mobile imaging and saw the beginning of the megapixel race. Who would have thought we would now be seeing a plethora of eight megapixel cameras in mobile phones? Imaging will be a key focus for LG at MWC 2009 and we

Jeremy Newing, LG UK mobile marketing
will continue to develop our camera phones to surpass consumer expectations. The industry is going to see a new generation of high end multimedia devices that will incorporate the most advanced technology engineered for users who want the complete mobile experience in imaging, video and music. Consumers want to be able to access all their favourite files through one device whilst on the go, whenever and wherever they are.
 

Ronan Dunne, Telefónica O2 UK CEO:

MWC this year will cover a number of key areas both in mobile and the wider connected world. Undoubtedly the growth in the mobile broadband market is key and we have to continue to look at ways to improve the customer experience. But it is also about the environment and I feel certain that this will be a hot topic at this year’s congress. I also think the role of the ICT sector, and mobile industry in particular, in driving economic recovery will be a theme given the global slowdown.

I believe that mobile broadband and the wider end to end connectivity that telecoms companies now have to provide is going to generate a huge amount of discussion and debate this year. We saw with the deal we have recently announced with Deutsche Post World Net just how important an end to end tailored, bespoke package is becoming far more important to customers.

With ongoing data growth and improved devices, the MWC crowd will be faced with an ever widening choice of content delivered primarily as mobile internet, and with

Ronan Dunne, Telefónica O2 UK CEO

faster download speeds. The trend to flat rate pricing and new content based business models will continue to extend, into advertising and some subscription based services. The devices will have more content bundled into them and ease of access from the device. The displays will continue to grow in size and through Bluetooth (now over 10 years old) move more fully into the accessories domain. The range of content and applications in the Apple iStore will continue to be the source of much discussion and innovation. The growing importance of mobile video will overtake the interest in mobile TV.

It is hard to say what will be the hottest topics at MWC, as growth has continued across a number of areas in the last year. One topic hotly tipped last year to be the big story of 2008 was mobile advertising. While this did not do as much as expected last year I expect to see this make a much bigger impression on the market in 2009.

I will be using the time to meet as many partners and vendors as I can to explore opportunities for 2009. It is also a great time to catch up with people from across the industry you have not seen for some time.

 

Oliver Chivers, T-Mobile head of business marketing:

BlackBerry still leads in the business market, but competition is increasing from Windows Mobile devices, like the T-Mobile MDA range and also latterly from devices with built in Microsoft business email software, such as the Nokia E71. Additionally, the T-Mobile G1 based on the Google platform demonstrates how a device and proposition which offers the whole open internet will be a driver of email and other messaging services.

We believe everyone should be able to access email quickly and easily, with the maximum choice of handset to suit them; they can choose a dedicated email device or choose a phone for another main reason, like music, calls or the web, and still know they can get a good email experience. Our web’n’walk service makes this possible on

Oliver Chivers, T-Mobile head of business

a wide range of devices and on top of that we offer services on a BlackBerry for both the consumer and business market.

The biggest growth of mobile email over the last couple of years has been in the consumer market, as email has become more prevalent at home as well as in the office. In addition to this, devices like the BlackBerry Pearl have launched and email inbox’s have been built in to more and more devices. Again, T-Mobile’s decision in 2005 to open up the mobile internet so that customers can browse the entire web has driven take up of mobile internet packages to access services like Hotmail.

We are seeing more and more customers flipping between different types of messaging, depending on who they are communicating with, what the content is, and when they are doing it. So increasingly people make little distinction between online and offline communication, switching comfortably between calls, texts, IM, email, social network update and other interaction on the web like community forums. This is leading to integrated offerings like the T-Mobile G1. Specifically for our business customers, Business 1 Plan gives the option of an integrated contract with voice, text, BlackBerry and internet services shared across a number of users in the customer’s business.

 

Browning, 20:20:

Fashion versus function? Customers will continue to want different things in my opinion. The mobile phone has become an extension of our lifestyle and we each demand different things from it.

For instance, business customers are now used to the functionality and flexibility of a virtual office, which saw Q3 sales figures for smartphones increase by 11% year on year. But at the other end of the market many older consumers simply want a no frills, easy to use handset that’s cheap to run.

But if our mobiles reflect our individual circumstances, 2009 will see consumers with less cash to spend and therefore value for money will be the prime consideration with some retailers already gearing up for this.

 

Mark Mitchinson, Samsung Mobile vice president:

It is already clear that mobile phone users have more than one handset and our success in 2008 is born out of the fact that through our customers we better understand the needs of the consumer.

Targeted bespoke content, increased activity around customer care, and building consumer loyalty, whilst not being all encompassing, must be a key focus in a mature market. It is obvious that social networking, instant messaging and the like will be a key driver along with high speed connectivity, data and well made, highly desirable devices. Samsung has a family of products that address all sizes of business need, from basic text and talk, entry level messaging to high specification heavy messaging

Mark Mitchinson, Samsung Mobile vice president

solutions.

Samsung for business allows organisations and end users to choose the features that are most important to them and their business. In 2009, we will add to this portfolio to deliver greater choice and best in class solutions.

 

Ben Dowd, Telefónica O2 UK business sales director:

We are increasingly seeing customers using a single handset for all their needs and this is typically a smartphone. Access to email has been a key driver for this. As the capability of devices increases, people are also doing more with the handsets, for example emailing, browsing and accessing central applications, as well as just using them as phones.

Whilst the handsets may have the same underlying capability, they are available in different form factors which meet the differing needs of users, with some being the phone first, for a heavy phone user, or a QWERTY keyboard device for a heavy emailer. There are also handsets for specific functional user groups. We are now seeing a number of devices with touch screens or bar code scanners that may be with certain field force applications for example. Accessories such as digital pens are also helping to make the best of mobile for certain job functions.