Mobile World Congress is alive and kicking


Anthony Stonehewer



For the “world’s largest and most influential connectivity event”, the noise leading up to Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 felt subdued. Lots of announcements and new product releases were kept quiet, naturally, but there was an apprehension at just how much would be announced at Mobile World Congress. All understandable when you consider that the likes of Samsung choose to announce and launch new products at standalone events such as Galaxy Unpacked, whilst Nokia announced the G22 entry-level smartphone before MWC. It begs the question: does MWC still have the pull that it did a few years ago?

Having attended myself I can assure readers that MWC is alive and kicking, and certainly over the COVID slump. Attendance jumped 45% on 2022, and investment from brands on the exhibition floor was clear to see. Particularly by Huawei, who invested heavily, practically taking the entirety of hall 1 to themselves and having a check-in area that only Heathrow airport could rival. Although it did so with backlash from some quarters.

There was no need for the pre-event scepticism, as new product announcements and innovations felt significant.

MWC is the perfect show for 5G, and how to harness the power and capabilities of 5G was a clear thread throughout the four days. That was needed, as 5G hasn’t quite been as successful as everyone expected. Private networking, access servers, even Smart 5G diamond mining, and so much more, made up the bulk of conversation and innovation across the showfloor and the speaker sessions. Time will tell, but it felt like MWC could prove a sliding doors moment for 5G and present a launchpad for 5G’s power and capabilities to be realised (despite 6G already being whispered amongst the show floor…).

From a product perspective, there was an abundance of new devices announced. HONOR launched its Magic 5 Series, including a foldable smartphone. TCL announced a range of devices, OPPO likewise with its innovative Find N2 Flip – a vertically folding smartphone – its flagship announcement. Huawei unveiled its smartwatch, the GT Cyber, which includes a detachable watchface. Nokia announced a rebrand and a move towards a greater focus on its B2B business. Xiaomi, Motorola, OnePlus, and many others, also launched new products. All of them made noise, all of them landed great coverage and awareness.

So, where does the value lie as a marketer, if we take the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked approach vs leveraging an event such as MWC?

Samsung undoubtedly made less noise than its competitors at MWC, but then one could argue that their job was done through Galaxy Unpacked, that it made its statement and created fanfare the month prior and used MWC as an opportunity for consumers to get hands-on with their products. But with the world’s media present at MWC and everyone watching, Samsung didn’t come away with as much talkability as some of the other aforementioned brands. 

MWC felt like an important place to be. CES was the same earlier this year. There is still huge value in brands holding their announcements for events such as this and creating big marketing moments. Yes there is a lot of noise across the show but if your products truly differentiate and innovate you will stand out from the crowd. IFA, which takes place in September, traditionally has fewer announcements and product innovations but smart marketers should look to use IFA as an opportunity to continue generating momentum and noise for their brands. 

The technology and connectivity world feels alive. It will be interesting to see if that impetus remains for IFA later this year.