Mobile World Congress Opens with Focus on Mobile Innovation
The theme for the 2015 Mobile World Congress event, which runs March 2 - 5 in Barcelona, is "The Edge of Innovation." Expected to draw more than 85,000 mobile industry professionals, the annual conference and exhibition is adding several new features and events this year.
Among the new additions are an expanded program bringing together startup entrepreneurs and investors, a "Connected Women Summit" and an activity competition using wearable health-tracking technology. A forum focused on "mobile, music, innovation, and experience" -- dubbed MMIX for short -- will also explore how new mobile tehnologies are changing people's use of digital entertainment.
In addition to a massive floor plan with nine halls featuring exhibits from nearly 2,000 companies, this year's Mobile World Congress will feature special pavilions focused on app development, cloud solutions, green technology, mobile payments and related technologies. The keynote speakers will be Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, fresh off of Thursday's historic FCC vote in favor of Net Neutrality.
'Connected City' Now 'Innovation City'
The Mobile World Congress is organized by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, or GSMA, an international organization of companies involved in mobile telecommunications.
Last year's Mobile World Congress reported a record-breaking attendance of 85,916. While a majority of attendees (60 percent) came from Europe, there were also large contingents from North America, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and other parts of the globe.
Among the companies exhibiting at the congress are Ericsson, Huawei, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and Sony. The exhibition will also feature the GSMA Innovation City (formerly called Connected City), highlighting mobile technologies used for work, play, and daily living in cities. Companies showcasing their technologies in this area will include AT&T, Jasper, KT Corp., Oral-B, Sierra Wireless, and Vodafone.
New Summit on 'Connected Women'
One of the programs being expanded this year is called "4 Years from Now" or 4YFN, which connects mobile startup companies and entrepreneurs with investors, accelerators, incubators and other potential partners. Now in its second year, 4YFN is sponsored by Mobile World Capital Barcelona.
In addition, the new "Connected Women Summit" will focus on "how the industry can accelerate the female digital economy." The summit will feature the launch of two new reports about women and the mobile industry: "Women's Mobile Access and Usage in Emerging Markets" and "State of the Industry Report," which will look at "the state of gender diversity across the industry" and recommend advice and best practices for mobile firms.
A new Garmin Healthband Challenge will invite attendees to link their health-trackers to a conference-wide activity competition with prizes over the course of the Mobile World Congress event. The congress will also offer its annual Global Mobile Awards, which will be hosted this year by Monty Python and Fawlty Towers veteran John Cleese.