THE BLOG

Have We Hit Peak MWC?

07/03/2017 09:05
Paul Hanna / Reuters

Have we reached peak #MWC? One of the questions I heard at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week was whether the leading global event for the mobile industry had become too much about the gadgets and too little about the technology sitting behind them, focussed too much on the showbiz and too little on the genuine innovation.

If you haven't been to this show, to give you a sense of scale, each conference hall is roughly a couple of football pitches in area. And there are nine of them. In the main centre.

Over 200 countries were represented... over 100,000 people visited over four days... most of them seemingly in sensible brogues, jeans and a jacket (just like me).

I spoke to a small slice of the 2,000-plus firms at the kaleidoscopic event, both start-ups and established firms, and there were several who wondered aloud whether they were there to do deals or to just make the point that they were there, they were in the game.

On that point, one large tech firm which shall remain nameless was said to be expecting to spend £130,000 in the week - on its data alone.

Yet judging by the can't-get-a-seat eateries on the stands and around the halls - as well as by the packed bars in the Gothic Quarter and the yachts draped with branding in Port Vell - that plenty of business was being done in the sassy city by the sea.

From its roots in Cannes about 12 years ago, Mobile World Congress, which closed on Thursday, has grown into a dizzying kaleidoscope of colour, claims and kit.

Veterans at the conference said it had changed so much that it was pretty much unrecognisable from year 1.0.

Our team at Engage by Bell Pottinger wanted to try to get a sense of the online impact of all that tremendous activity, so we analysed every social media conversation and mention of the event during the four days to reveal the brands, topics and trends that gained the most traction. This is what we found.
There were just under 360,000 mentions of MWC, which is more than three per visitor, reaching a total online audience of 713 million people.

Twitter saw the vast majority of chat with 280,713 posts and 78% of the total traffic, followed by Facebook, Instagram, online news and blogs. Last in line in channel terms was forums, with 366 posts and 0.1% of the volume.

The resuscitation of the Nokia 3310 was the top announcement, although people were split on the new colour screen, followed by Huawei's well-received new handset the P10, LG's G6, the new Sony Xperia and BlackBerry's KeyOne.

One noticeable face-off at the conference was "traditional" automotive versus "pure" tech, with each parking their metaphorical tanks on the others' lawn to grow or defend their business in the booming field of connected vehicles. This helped make the internet of things (#IoT) the hottest hashtag, followed by #5G, #AI, #VR and #bigdata.

Among the myriad of CEOs, boffins, entrepreneurs and trendsetters at the event, Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) a Boston-based B2B social media expert, easily took the crown of top influencer, with 9.3m impressions over the event, beating multi-talented @grattongirl, Digital Trends' mobile editor @MalarieGokey, the CEO of digital agency Thulium @TamaraMcCleary and @SalihSarikaya, the head of Digital Review.

Peak MWC? Not on your nelly. See you in Barcelona next year.

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