Eight things you need to know about Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress: a record 60,000 attendees from 200 countries
Mobile World Congress: a record 60,000 attendees from 200 countries

Marketers can't ignore last week's pivotal Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - the biggest to date.

If your brand isn't working on a mobile marketing strategy, it's time to rethink your approach. Last week, a record 60,000 people from 200 countries gathered in Barcelona for the 2011 GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC), a week-long parade of technology, gadgets, networking and parties celebrating the innovation and opportunity that mobile brings to business.

Marketing sent digital consultant George Nimeh to the show to discover what's hot at Congress for marketers.

- Android goes large

Google's mobile operating system stole the show. More than 200,000 people a day are buying a mobile phone that uses Android, and for anyone not currently developing branded apps for it, now is the time. Google's high-profile presence at MWC confirmed just how serious it is about mobile.

- Mobile meets social

Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley delivered a keynote speech that gave people take food for thought. He described a network that is on more than off, and connections that are growing in both numbers and importance.

Crowley told Marketing: 'Phones are sensors connected to the network. When we use them, they can help us understand the intent we're giving to people, places and things nearby. We want to help people make sense of the real world, and help marketers create a lens through which people can experience their brands.'

See the full interview with Dennis Crowley here.

- The rise of the tablet

Everyone, it seems, launched a tablet at MWC. Motorola, HTC, BlackBerry and, of course, Apple, all have tablets either on the market or coming soon. Beyond the hardware, the experience is changing the way in which people can interact with brands. With frontand rear-facing cameras, video-calls and conferencing over services such as Skype, tablets will soon become commonplace in offices and homes, and somewhere that brands need to be.

Games on the move

On the opening day of MWC, Sony Ericsson launched its much-anticipated Xperia Play handset. Dubbed 'the PlayStation phone', the company's chief creation officer, Rikko Sakaguchi, said it will 'forever change the way people think about smartphones and mobile gaming'. It is being billed as the world's first 'PlayStation-certified phone'. At MWC, Microsoft previewed its challenger Windows Phone, which will integrate its Kinect controller for the Xbox 360.

- Nokia and Microsoft get friendly

Nokia's announcement that it plans to use Microsoft's operating system on all of its handsets was timed appropriately: Valentine's Day. Stephen Elop, chief executive at Nokia, and his Microsoft counterpart Steve Ballmer, were there to reveal the deal. 'We wanted to create a challenger,' said Elop. 'It's now a three-horse race.' The jury is still out on that, and Elop is apparently discounting BlackBerry.

- Making money from apps

Mobile apps are everywhere, but how can a brand make them pay? Charging for them is one possibility, but O2's parent company, Telefonica, has a second option in BlueVia. 'Developers can connect to our network for free, and every time their app creates traffic, we share some revenue,' says James Parton, Telefonica's head of developer marketing. 'In other words, Telefonica is sharing its crown jewels.'

BlueVia is a sign of things to come. Brands should watch this space.

- Mobile payments

Near Field Communications (NFC) are changing the way in which mobile devices can be used for data-gathering and commerce. NFC provides consumers with a convenient way of paying for goods, and brands with information to help them improve their products. Deutsche Telekom will launch its NFC-enabled 'mobile wallet' next year. With more than 100m people using iTunes worldwide, and a multitude of other easy ways to pay through mobile, this area offers seemingly boundless potential.

- Emerging technology

MWC is always a good place to look out for emerging technologies. Fulton Innovation has developed some truly eye-catching wireless technology that should make retailers take notice.

The company is trying to connect everything to the internet, enabling communication via everyday objects. 'The idea is to have wireless power available in everything from tabletops and grocery aisles to parking garages,' it claimed at MWC. The possibilities are indeed impressive.

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