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Ovum delivers its take on what to expect from Mobile World Congress 2014

February 14, 2014  

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Ovum this week released predictions and observations from members of its analyst team about the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

“MWC features a slew of announcements,” the research firm said. “Some have the life expectancy of a snowflake on the desert floor, but a few represent major shifts in the landscape, and develop into something of substance. Vendor follow-through provides a key indication of value — do returning vendors showcase actual progress on last year’s promises (trials are good; commercial deployments are better), or do they parade something new and hope that analysts have forgotten last year’s hype?”

The background to the event is operators’ need to do more with increased levels of connectivity as they battle to derive greater ROI in the face of cost pressures and revenue stagnation, said Catherine Haslam, an analyst at Ovum. “To achieve this, operators need flexible and highly manageable networks, and Ovum expects SDN and NFV to move from slideware to reference cases. They also need more and better services, with broadcast LTE, VoLTE, and the integration of Big Data the most prominent, and they need more connections.

“We expect the Internet of Things (IoT) to create the major hype for the show, and enterprise-orientated applications and services to have a greater prominence, given that this is where revenue growth is most tangible.

“Perhaps most importantly, we also hope to see long-overdue evidence that operators understand that they are just part of an ecosystem that will deliver the future communications landscape – they are not its entirety. We will be looking for examples of the operator as a partner, whether as an integrator in IoT, an enabler, or simply a connectivity provider. Elsewhere, we expect a number of announcements from enterprise mobility vendors looking to highlight their new app development and management capabilities. We also expect the same devices that dominated the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show to make their way to Barcelona for MWC and to grab many of the headlines.”

Below are observations from other Ovum analysts:

Jeremy Green, Industry, Communication, and Broadband: “In terms of network operator strategy, we expect to see lots of emphasis on service development aimed at propping up the telcos’ top lines. As was the case last year, operators will be seeking to demonstrate that the Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity – including smart cities, connected cars, and connected consumer electronics devices – has significant upside potential for them, and that they still have a role as ringmaster and integrator for this type of service. Similarly, there will be talk about how VoLTE, at last being rolled out, will give them the ability to compete with over-the-top (OTT) communications services.”

Mike Sapien, Enterprise: “The Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise mobility solutions, and the various ecosystems within them, will continue to mature and, in many cases, consolidate. The industry seems to have moved past M2M and is now looking at IoT as the next big thing. Operators are starting to focus, picking more horizontal platform approaches and fewer vertical solutions, and building stronger, deeper partnerships and internal capabilities. Track and trace remains a strong horizontal focus for operators, while connected car solutions will feature heavily this year. There has been some consolidation in enterprise mobility, and there is more to come: trends in this area are fuelled by the transition to the cloud, and by IT services integration beyond traditional device management.”

Richard Absalom, Enterprise Mobility and Productivity: “We expect enterprise mobility to be a key theme at MWC this year, as it was in 2013. The leading vendors in the space will all be present, with many planning announcements of new products and updates – they are all still riding the wave of demand from enterprises that are trying to deal with BYOD and the complexities of managing their fast-growing mobile estates. As the market’s focus shifts toward deploying mobile enterprise apps, there are likely to be announcements around new app development and management features. And in the current climate of consolidation, it would not be a huge surprise to hear of further M&A activity in the space.”

Nick Dillon, Devices and Platforms: “As the overarching theme at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, it is likely that the Internet of Things will feature heavily on the agenda for MWC, especially in the context of connected cars and smart homes. Although these topics are not brand new, we expect the conversation to have moved on from one of potential to one of actual products and the realities of deployments, standards, and interoperability. The alternative device operating systems that were attempting to challenge the hegemony of iOS and Android were a hot topic in 2013, and we expect to hear an update on partnerships and commercial deployments from the darling of last year’s show, Firefox OS. The show will also be something of a now-or-never moment for the long-overdue Tizen platform. Despite announcements of partnerships last year, we are still yet to see a commercial handset using the platform. If its main backer, Samsung, fails to address this in 2014 it may suggest that the vendor has lost the appetite for playing in the platforms game, and is happy to cede these responsibilities to Google indefinitely.”

Clare McCarthy, Telco IT: “We expect to see vendors continuing to push their intelligent analytics solutions at the customer and network levels at MWC 2014. There is also still much work to be done in the OSS/BSS fields as operators upgrade for LTE and incorporate SDN, SON, and NFV. Ensuring a good customer experience remains important, so that will feature at a number of levels, and we will see companies from the IT service domains taking on the NEPs and software vendors as the battle for operators’ hearts and minds continues.”

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