Last week it felt as if the world was almost back to normal as companies from across the tech spectrum converged on Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2022. There were plenty of announcements on the latest advancements of 5G, networking technology, devices and what the future holds for the virtual world. The accelerated tempo of business operations that we’ve become accustomed to shows no signs of slowing down. Here’s a look at a few of the announcements and trends that caught my attention.
5G Expansion from Chips to Networks
It’s no surprise that 5G was everywhere at MWC. With the network technology ready to revolutionize the way we live, work, and play, organizations are taking note and making some headway on everything from chips and devices to network expansion and partnerships. These moves indicate that 5G is ready to go mainstream this year.
Qualcomm set the stage with a number of 5G ecosystem announcements and upgrades including its Snapdragon X70 chipset. The new chip now supports a 5G AI processor and integrated 5G Modem-RF system for unparalleled speed and network efficiency. The SnapdragonX70 Mobile-RF System will also support 5G 4-carrier and sub-6 aggregation in addition to dual-SIM and DSDA capabilities. These upgrades will usher in a better customer experience across the mobile spectrum — something we can all look forward to taking advantage of.
AT&T and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership to release AT&T Private 5G Edge, an integrated platform for private networking and edge computing for small to mid-sized customers. This network will help these businesses get their edge networks connected quickly and easily.
Cisco also made a significant private 5G announcement and the company further pushed its shift to software and services with a new Private 5G-as-a-Service launch that I expect will be well received by its customers who seek to benefit from deploying private 5G.
On the devices spectrum, there were a number of announcements and product releases for consumers. From 5G-enabled routers that will deliver fast internet speeds at home to mobile devices and wearables, 5G hardware is finally coming into form.
Impressive Laptops Take Center Stage
While 5G played a huge role at MWC, several tech companies announced new tech products that will soon be available to consumers. In recent years, phones have dominated MWC announcements, but this year it was all about the laptop, which makes sense as tech companies look to bring increased portability and productivity to consumers who are working in hybrid environments.
Samsung announced its new Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro which will feature upgraded webcams, HD resolution and a deeper integration with other Samsung products making it easier to switch between devices.
Lenovo announced its new ThinkPad X13, developed in collaboration with Qualcomm and Microsoft. This sleek laptop will be powered by Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 compute platform. But the best part? It boasts a multi-day battery life and 5G connectivity for a seamless always-on, always-connected experience. In our hybrid working world, I think that this type of laptop will be incredibly popular with employees who need to shuffle between the office and home.
The PC market has had a renaissance during the Covid years, and I believe the importance of the PC going forward will remain significant. New form factors of PCs will be shaped more than ever by the way we use our mobile devices. I believe that consumers increasingly want to see PCs that operate like our mobile devices, rather than the other way around, which was the advent of the smart phone. Now I look to the device makers, and the chip makers to solve the evolution to mobile PCs and of course this will include long battery life, 5G connectivity, and lightweight portable profiles that deliver mobility and productivity at scale.
Metaverse? Not Yet
While we’ve been talking about the metaverse for some time, most of the telcos present at MWC didn’t have any major plans for the new technology in the coming year. But there were some killer exhibitions in a few booths of potential virtual world technology that have me excited. In the Qualcomm booth, visitors were able to don Occulus headsets and jump into the virtual world with Wooorld VR. Avatars allow people to be anywhere in the world together, regardless of their physical location.
Accenture had a similar demonstration, giving over 60,000 headsets to employees around the world and letting them connect to presentations and networking events on their Nth Floor. While there is a lot of potential here, the metaverse is still a few years away from being a full time reality, but I definitely think it will be something we will continue hearing a lot about.
I think most recognize that more robust networks with higher throughput will expand capacity for lighter immersive experiences and of course lower latency data and transaction processing. However, there is still some migration from conceptual to real that should materialize over the next few years. 5G will empower the metaverse, and of course MWC will increasingly highlight that with each passing year.
Impressive Automotive Debuts
With 5G technologies continuing to evolve, we are going to see more connected cars and autonomous cars on the road in the coming years. Which explains why they were both hot topics at MWC this year. Qualcomm unveiled the latest iteration of its Snapdragon digital chassis that now includes cloud-as-a-service and upgraded WiFi capabilities. During the company’s press conference CEO Cristiano Amon reiterated Qualcomm’s expanding vision to continue to transform the automotive industry.
In addition to the tech on the inside of vehicles, there were a couple new electric vehicles on display from automakers Renault and Fisker. The Renault Megane, an all-electric vehicle, showcased just how that Qualcomm technology will be used with impressive heads-up displays, augmented reality overlays, audio systems, sign detection and more. The Fisker Ocean, an all-electric SUV, highlighted the sustainability aspect of the next generation of cars with a solar panel roof and sustainably made interiors.
While MWC didn’t have the same automotive gravitas as CES, we are increasingly seeing MWC gain momentum as an automotive show. The connected future will play out more and more with the help of chipmakers like Intel Mobileye, Qualcomm, Marvell, and NVIDIA as we see the vehicle BOM grow to 20% chips within the next 7-8 years. These are the same companies making the technology that powers our mobile devices, and therefore MWC will all but certainly become more and more of an automotive show. After all, you can’t spell automobile without mobile.
Underlying Theme of Sustainability
While the tech announcements definitely took center stage for most of the event, there was an underlying theme of sustainability that could not be missed. Several companies made sustainability one of their key messages for the week speaking to how their technologies will enable greener futures. Other booths featured greenery and real plants that underpinned missions for sustainability. And there were several presentations on how to create and develop technologies that we need in the world in a sustainable way.
A softer trend perhaps, but noticeable nonetheless. Sustainability is finding its footing as the commitments that company’s like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others have made over the past few years will be measured. It will become more data driven as consumers look to see climate action come to life and technology companies will continue to lead the way. As I see it, sustainability, ESG, and social impact will continue to be a key part in conferences and they way businesses operate for years to come.
MWC 2022 was definitely smaller than in years past, but the companies present still put on a show. There are exciting things happening across the spectrum. 5G is driving connectivity and innovation in our devices and vehicles. Companies are catering to consumers more than ever to meet the new needs of our hybrid world. The advancements that we saw last week will only continue to drive innovation forward. MWC 2022 was just the start of what’s to come this year and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what’s next.