Mobile Digest 2019: Day Three!


Day three of MWC and the halls were still packed with delegates going about their business. Still plenty of launches and announcements, albeit the rush for ‘first day’ advantage was over.

The major problem, however, is that the vast majority of delegates are men, according to Zoe Kleinman from the BBC.

“A common theme among the women I’ve met here is the fact that the halls are a sea of testosterone,” she writes. It’s a serious problem for an industry where half the customers are women.

The GSMA, the organisers of the show, said that a quarter of last year’s 100,000 delegates were women – and it will be slightly higher this year when the final figures are in. A critical problem in the industry is that not enough women are in senior positions.

The show is making efforts to counter that problem. It is running an event called 4YFN (Four Years From Now) looking to nurture new companies and new talent, including a Women4Tech meetup within the 4YFN conference stream.

But not everything is running smoothly yet. When Becalpin Tweeted that she was barred entry from the event because she had her baby with her, it shows the industry still has a way to go.

Daily Round Up

As we finish the third day of MWC, 5G and ‘tech for good’ are two themes that continue to steal the show:

  • Ericsson unveiled its 5G radio tape: Designed with sports stadia such as Barcelona FC’s home ground, Camp Nou, in mind, the tape acts as a wrap-around base station. It improves connectivity and reception wherever spectators are. It’s essentially packing tape with serialized radios every foot or so, linked by flexible wire.
  • We also saw the first tele-monitored live surgery powered by 5G: Dr. de Lacy, Head of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, linked to his fellow surgeons from the MWC halls. He drew recommended incision points and pointed out potential problem areas that appeared on a large display in the hospital surgery.
  • Google created a lot of noise with its “pretty cool” Android texting app: Google Assistant has made a leap into the Android Messages texting app to give users its famous smart home technology on the go. It is the latest example of Google embracing AI to understand content and anticipate user needs.

Asia and Africa Growth

Around five billion people around the world subscribe to mobile services, accounting for two-thirds of the world’s population, according to the GSMA’s Mobile Economy Report. But the pace of growth is slowing as the developed world reaches saturation point.

The major new growth, of more than 700m new subscribers, will mainly come from Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa in the next few years.

Enter the $20 Sanza, a budget phone designed by Orange for developing countries. Running on KaiOS and including apps such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and YouTube, it offers many smartphone features at an affordable price.

Orange intends to sell the device across various African countries. The device also connects to real-time news and financial services via Orange Pay. That’s another smart move as the GSMA also said mobile payment accounts increased by 20% between 2017 and 2018 and now runs to US$1.3 billion in transactions every day.

Buzzing with Possibilities

Orange has also connected with NimbeLink to showcase a connected beehive at MWC. The asset tracking solution monitors motion, orientation, temperature and humidity, to ensure this hive has the best kept bees in Barcelona.

Not Properly Dressed Without One

Some have speculated that the focus is shifting away from wearables at MWC this year. But it’s not because they are in decline or losing popularity. These little tech devices have grown year-on-year with most technology companies dabbling in wearables.

They are now so popular they are almost demanding an event of their own. But it wouldn’t be a tech show without some wearable products on display…

  • Nubia showcased its first wearable OLED smartphone which looks like a watch but is controlled like a typical Android device. It has a camera, 4G connectivity, health-tracking, payments and WeChat video and comes in black or gold, complete with wireless earbuds.
  • Meanwhile the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) has developed a new graphene-based device to let users know when they’ve reached their limit in the sun. The patch is worn like a plaster and uses UV sensors to alert a connected mobile device when they are in danger of burning. That’s just in time for the sunnier weather!
  • The ICFO is also developing a fitness band, hyperspectral image sensor and a single pixel spectrometer. The future of graphene is displayed at the dedicated Graphene Pavilion at MWC Barcelona. It’s a technology we expect to see much more of in the future.

That’s the end of day three. Into the final leg tomorrow. Time for delegates and exhibitors to check their wearables to see how many steps they’ve taken and how many calories they’ve burned by the end of the show!