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The world’s biggest exhibition within the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, beat all records this year in terms of size and number of visitors. With over 72,000 participants, 1700 stands and an expanded area of 94,000 m2, the fair offered extremely many new trends. Kevin Freij, CEO of www.mymobilesecurity.com, gives his agenda and outcomes as a security company in this huge event.
Mobile World Congress is not the place where Mr and Mrs Smith spend their afternoon looking at new mobile phones. It is an industry event with only a few end users present, as reflected in the prices of entry tickets, which range from 700 euros up to 5000 euros, if you participate without invitation.
This year’s theme “The New Mobile Horizon” aimed at taking us into the future to give us a taste of what we can expect from the mobile industry – an industry that has exploded over the last ten years and, according to experts will continue to thunder along in step with a larger and larger share of the world’s population get their hands on a mobile phone. New reports indicate that there are currently about six billion mobile phones worldwide and that about one billion of them are smartphones. This year more than half of all sold phones will be smartphones and that number will rise in 2016 to 67pc – an increase only a minority would have predicted five years ago.
Kevin Freij from MYMobileSecurity, a company that makes security services and applications, is impressed by the size and informative level of the fair this year, in spite of the lack of product news. “I understand that the press had wanted more groundbreaking product launches, but in return they get a fascinating taste of the future use of the latest technologies in the industry,” he says. He points out three areas, which according to him has been most interesting during the fair.
First Near Field Communication (NFC)
Though NFC is not a new technology, it has not yet had its major global breakthrough. NFC is a networking technology that works wirelessly over short distances, allowing wireless connection between two devices that are near each other, and which requires only that one device is turned on for it to function. NFC is primarily used to share data, pair devices (connecting devices by rubbing them against each other) and perform transactions.
The organizer of the Mobile World Congress have prioritized NFC at this year’s fair by giving participants the opportunity to test the technology in practice, by setting NFC terminals around the fair, so one with his phone can access additional information and have the option to skip the long queues at lunchtime in order to pay his food over the phone. Precisely mobile payments are becoming widespread in other countries, including United States, where for example coffee chain Starbucks has successfully introduced the technology. It is intended that the technology must be able to replace trains, metro and bus passes, health card, credit card, cash, yes everything else you have in your purse. There are a few disadvantages of NFC, which makes its breakthrough little complicated, assesses Kevin. “First and foremost, it requires that your mobile has implemented the technology, which applies only to the latest models. Although there are 300 million phones with NFC on the market this year and all major manufacturers have chosen to implement the technology, it is still a thorn in the side that Apple so far has said no thanks. It is also a disadvantage that there is a new technology, which requires additional equipment in order to use it, rather than if it had been able to develop a technique which is already available. But the potential is enormous, and it also places new demands on safety, and here someone like me has to be awake if we are to keep up with development.
The opportunities of “machine to machine communication” or “connected living” were showcased through an entire mobile driven city. “Last year we saw a” connected” house, and this year it has been extended to an entire city with hotel, houses, garages, medical centres, cafes etc. The mobile operators are very enthusiastic because they see huge opportunities for growth. I find the development really exciting, and I look forward to the day when I can lock my car, open the garage and front door, turn off the alarm, turn on the aircon, light, music, order takeaway, change TV channels and measure my blood pressure with the same phone.
The vast majority of the world’s smartphones are using the operating systems Android or iOS, which are based on apps downloaded from the web. At the fair we saw a number of new operating systems, including Firefox OS, which runs web-based apps that do not need downloads. If this idea will gain popularity it will be an advantage for the developers who do not have to pay a part of revenue, for example to Google, for sales through Google Play. They will also be able to avoid developing 3-4 versions of their apps, because these web-based apps work across operating systems. “The new Firefox platform is born in a strong headwind and the predictions are low but that was the case with Google’s Android system as well when it emerged five years ago, so it will be interesting to see how it develops. It is always positive to get more competition that ultimately can benefit the end users, “says Kevin Freij.
The next level
Although Kevin Freij is excited about gadgets and new technology, it has not been his primary purpose at the fair. Mostly you could find him on the GSMA stand doing demos of MYMobileSecurity´s security apps to potential new operator clients. GSMA is a worldwide company that among other things was the main organizer of Mobile World Congress apart from owning a community for mobile and tele-operators. “We are proud of the credibility that our collaboration with GSMA gives us”, he says. “For a company like MYMobileSecurity this is the place where we have the opportunity to meet new and existing business partners from all over the world. We have about 80 partners around the world and new ones coming up, so we save both time and money by being able to meet some of them here. This year we held a series of successful meetings with North Africa’s biggest mobile operator Zain Group, which we have begun negotiations with.” Kevin Freij explains that they will be focusing firstly on Sudan with other African countries to follow. “North Africa represents a huge upcoming market in a rapid development. Just in Sudan there are 20 million potential clients that could be interested in installing our security apps through web portals or stores. This collaboration opens up brand new opportunities for growth.” Kevin Freij also mentions a recently signed contract with Telecor, a mobile retail chain owned by El Corte Inglés in Spain, the biggest warehouse in Europe. “I am convinced that 2013 will be the year in which also MYMobileSecurity reaches new horizons so we can take the company to the next level.”