Which countries are the powerhouses of the mobile industry? Those of of who have been working in the industry will all have our ideas but we decied to test our own assumptions by analysing the companies that exhibited at Mobile World Congress (MWC) earlier this year. It’s the biggest event in the sector and so ought to be a reasonable barometer of where the action is at.
The results of the analysis are shown on the globe below with the size of the red dot being proportional to the number of companies exhibiting.
The most represented country is Spain but that’s an aberration since the Fira is obviously an easy place to get to for Spanish companies and there’s also a (very) strong representation from the peripheral industries servicing the sector (marketing, events etc.). Next on the list are the United States (355), China (216), South Korea (198 and a big increase on last year), the United Kingdom (178), France (151), Germany (141) and Israel (116).
The numbers then drop to double figures quite rapidly until you get to the 14 countries represented by a single company, from Costa Rica (with the strangely named 2fun2me) to Vietnam (Viettel Group). For those of you who think they’ve spotted an obvious error, that tiny red dot to the right of Madagascar, which appears to be swimming in the Indian Ocean, is Mauritius with two companies exhibiting – who knew!
And if you are wondering what all those companies are selling, we also carried out some analysis on that point.
This is where you start to think it’s time to rename the event. Some of the Babel crew have been attending MWC since the Cannes days and we’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry, and in the event itself, over that time. Regular visitors will know that it’s no longer completely dominated by handsets, operators and network equipment manufacturers. They still play a big part but it’s become an incredibly diverse industry.
If you would like to talk to Babel about support at MWC 2019, any of the myriad other mobile sector events, or ongoing support, let us know here.
Hot on the heels of my analysis of the market sectors being represented at Mobile World Congress this year I thought it might be interesting to look at the geographic spread of exhibitor companies. They are shown on the map with the size of the red dot being proportional to the number of companies exhibiting.
The most represented country is Spain but that’s probably an aberration since the Fira is obviously an easy place to get to for Spanish companies and there’s also a (very) strong representation from the peripheral industries servicing the sector (marketing, events etc.). Next on the list are the United States (355), China (216), South Korea (198 and a big increase on last year), the United Kingdom (178), France (151), Germany (141) and Israel (116).
The numbers then drop to double figures quite rapidly until you get to the 14 countries represented by a single company, from Costa Rica (with the strangely named 2fun2me) to Vietnam (Viettel Group).
For those of you who think they’ve spotted an obvious error, that tiny red dot to the right of Madagascar, which appears to be swimming in the Indian Ocean, is Mauritius with two companies exhibiting – who knew!
A collective “Is it that time of year already!?” resonated around the Babel office earlier this week, as the GSMA’s MWC registration email landed in our inboxes. Yet preparation for the annual Mobile World Congress has already begun in earnest here. The Babel team has been busy laying the groundwork, before a contingent flies out to Barcelona to support our clients and enjoy our twelfth year at the show.
If you’re exhibiting at MWC, no doubt you’ll be planning stand layout, booking flights and accommodation (if you haven’t already) and then attempting to work out how to finance the rest of the year! So, what next? MWC is the perfect opportunity to elevate your company and messaging, build relationships (and leads) and set the tone for the rest of the year, and if you’re planning to make a splash at the show, then you need to start planning for that eventuality right now.
Ahead of picking up the phone in the New Year to journalists with the age old question ‘are you going to MWC?’ here’s what should be happening in the next couple of months.
If you didn’t get the hoped-for coverage and briefings around MWC last year, it’s time to reconsider your approach. If you haven’t got a PR team in place, you need to move quickly to find one, ensuring that you have enough time to work with them to prepare for the show. Choose an agency wisely: history and knowledge of MWC and the industry are a given, but proven media and analyst contacts, results-driven strategies, and experience working with everyone from start-ups to corporate giants, are also important factors. A PR team should offer your company a clear roadmap of MWC activity that begins now and carries on even after you’ve caught the last taxi leaving the Fira.
Develop clear messaging for the show. Many journalists and analysts have spent years traipsing from stand to stand, only to find themselves bewildered by jargon and technical language at the expense of a necessary and sometimes ground-breaking proposition. The story behind a new product or solution can sometimes get lost in a soup of acronyms. Yes, cloud, 5G, IoT (and LTE) will be big issues at the show but in order to get noticed companies need to sharpen their messaging to clarify exactly where their proposition sits in the grand scheme of things.
The next two months provide the opportunity to refine messaging and positioning. Work on the detail but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, ensure content and messaging are accessible to the press and other key influencers. Make sure that press releases and other collateral are able to communicate the strategic importance of your product portfolio to the carriers, equipment manufacturers, consumers or whoever your target audience happens to be. A good PR agency will work closely with you to develop clear and precise messaging, they may even challenge you on it. It’s always useful to get a third party perspective on your branding and communications, its healthy to exchange ideas, particularly if you’re working on a new concept that you want to unveil at MWC. It’s better to go through that meticulous process now rather than weeks before the show.
Look out for our next MWC blog in a few weeks’ time when we look at how companies can hit the ground running in January to ramp up PR and coverage in the lead-up to the show.
Running exhibitions is always about the numbers and every year we hear those numbers from the GSMA as they relate to Mobile World Congress. MWC 2016 was a record year as the figures outlined below attest:
- 101,000 attendees, 5,000 of whom were CEOs, from 204 countries
- 2,200 companies exhibiting across 110,000 square metres of exhibition space (this is why your feet hurt)
- 3,600 journalists and analysts (this is why any sensible PR consultant starts circuit training at least two months prior)
Interestingly the GSMA’s independent economic analysis indicates that the event contributed more than €460 million to the local economy and generated 13,000 part-time jobs. Little wonder that Barcelona bid so hard to keep the event the last time a change was mooted.
We thought it might be interesting to look behind some of the raw numbers to see what they reveal. Let’s start with those pesky journalists and analysts (we love ‘em really) and a breakdown of which countries they came from in 2016.
This is a ‘home game’ for Spain and so although there are some very influential Spanish journalists attending the event, the total number is an aberration. The fact is that, if you’re a Spanish journalist based anywhere near Barcelona you are going to drop in at the Fira, even if it’s just to look around, so the number far exceeds what it might be if the event was hosted elsewhere. Next on the list are UK and US journalists and they are likely to be some of the busiest at the show – English language media in the mobile sector, like no other, tends to ‘bleed’ into every other market and so a good proportion of those 5,000 CEOs will be looking to meet at least some of the native English speakers.
Then we have journalists from Germany and Italy. The contingent from Germany doesn’t surprise me – it’s a highly developed mobile and tech. market with a well organised and active media industry but I’m not sure Italy really compares. Despite that, the number of Italian journalists always seems to be significant even if the coverage that results rarely makes its way beyond the country’s borders.
There’s a very long list, from another fifty countries, below those shown in the chart but whatever their numbers and position on the list, you can’t assume they can be ignored. If you’re interested in doing deals in Ecuador, it may well be worth talking to the one journalist that attended (if you can find him or her).
A league of nations
Next we looked at a geographic breakdown of the companies registered to attend in 2017 and it doesn’t take long for you to figure out which countries are the powerhouses of the mobile sector.
Once again, Spain’s position is probably an aberration – unsurprisingly, you’ll find quite a lot of generalist service companies featuring amongst that country’s MWC registered companies. The countries that dominate are the United States, China and the United Kingdom and that won’t shock anyone with some knowledge of the mobile industry. The US and UK have a long history in mobile technologies, content and services and whilst China might have started later in the development cycle, it’s a country that plays the hard ball version of catch up.
For many years we saw Chinese companies concentrating on their (substantial) home market but that is no longer the case and if I could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking about working in the mobile industry now, it would be to learn Mandarin and accustom yourself with the way the Chinese do business.
The country that sometimes surprises those outside the industry is Israel. It’s number five on the list of registrations which may seem surprising for such a small region. It shouldn’t be, telecommunications expertise abounds and in fact telecommunications equipment is one of the country’s major export products.
Finally we examined a breakdown of the various products and solutions those companies registered for MWC 2017 are planning to promote. If ever there was a confirmation of the changing face of MWC this is the chart that does it.
Those of us that have been attending MWC for years can’t have failed to notice some fundamental shifts. If this chart was compiled for any of the Canne hosted MWCs, certain of the categories that feature now in the top 20 wouldn’t exist, and others would struggle to make the top 100. Today we see significant representation of ‘in-building systems’, ‘tablet devices’ and ‘cloud services’ – none of which would have made the list in 2006, the last year France hosted the event.
The three product categories you should note are ‘consumer electronics’, ‘mobile advertising and marketing’ and ‘IoT / M2M’. They are all categories that really stood out this year at the Fira and they provide a good indication of where many in the industry are focussing their attention.
What the top 20 list doesn’t reveal is the dramatic change in the power structure within the industry over the last ten years. MWC was once completely dominated by tier one operators, handset brands and network equipment manufacturers. Today, though each of those is still important, it’s arguable that the global internet brands have greater influence on the future direction of the industry. That’s why you’ll see people like John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, listed as keynote speaker in 2017. Although handset launches got some people out of bed this year it was an augmented reality game published by Niantic called Pokémon Go that got billions moving.
See you there
Whatever it is that ‘floats your boat’ in the mobile industry, there’s no doubt that you’ll find it at MWC. It remains the premier event in the sector and no matter how many grumbles there are about the cost of exhibiting, you have to hand it to the GSMA. They produce a compelling event and manage to keep it relevant year after year.
STORY UPDATE 1 (10.00 20th October) – Since writing this story we have received communication directly from Apple’s PR office to deny they have an “official presence at the show” and since then the listing on the MWC site has mysteriously disappeared.
STORY UPDATE 2 (14.30 20th October) – In an update to their original story, The Mobile Network has received a statement from the GSMA saying that, “We can confirm that Apple will have meeting space at Mobile World Congress, as they have had previously.” Looks like theory 2 (below) was correct (not sure about the ‘execution’ though).
As spotted by yours truly, and reported first in The Mobile Network, it looks like the obvious missing element at Mobile World Congress has been found. The recently published exhibitor list for MWC 2017 is listing Apple for the first time, a company that is such a huge part of the mobile ecosystem but one that, at MWC, has always been noticeable only by its absence.
Apple has famously avoided the event and while we’ve all become accustomed to the increasingly annoying Android robots getting in the way while we rush from one meeting to another, nobody has ever stumbled over a half eaten Golden Delicious. You might be pleased to hear that situation is still unlikely – Apple’s space is actually three meeting rooms rather than exhibition space but it’s a whole lot more than we’ve seen previously.
Strangely, although the the company appears in the exhibitor listing, on the show floor plans each of the meeting rooms is listed as space for the GSMA so we have two theories:
- The charm offensive has worked, this is the start of a new love affair and the ‘powers that be’ at the GSMA can’t wipe the smiles off their faces
- The listing was an accident and Apple has secretly been holding meetings at MWC for years. If that’s the case the aforementioned powers that be have probably already executed the culprit responsible (or at least they will when they see TMN’s story)
One final point on MWC 2017 but at a slight tangent – just how many meetings can one company possibly hold at the event? Just take at look at the collection of rabbit hutches that Facebook has assembled:
Every January from about the second week, after we’ve all recovered from the Christmas and New Year festivities, the team at Babel receive a certain type of call from companies attending Mobile World Congress (MWC). More often than not we also get those calls in February and they go something like this:
“I understand Babel represents a number of companies in the mobile sector at MWC and we’d also like your support. We’ve invested in exhibition space, we’ve spent considerable sums of money on design and build, the flights for our top team are booked and we’ve put them up in hotels in Barcelona. Now we want to make the most of that investment by generating lots of attention amongst media, analysts and our target customers – what can you do for us?”
At the end of that sentence our collective hearts sink. It’s not that we can’t do anything – we can and do, but we could have done much more if we’d had the opportunity to start earlier. Let’s have a look at what Google Trends says about search interest in MWC over a full year. The chart below shows the trend in web searches on “Mobile World Congress” over a full year and it’s a good proxy for when those in the mobile sector are taking an interest in the event. The big spike is obvious but what is less obvious is when interest starts to lift. It isn’t in February when the event takes place and it isn’t even in January. It’s actually in November with a small but clear uplift that is repeated every year at the same time.
In reality, experienced MWC exhibitors will have started their PR, marketing and communications activity well before then. The ‘call for papers’ for instance, closes mid-September. The trick with MWC is to make sure everybody knows about your presence, and wants to meet with you, well before the event. Even the smallest companies exhibiting will have shelled out £100-150k and if you are running around immediately before (or even during) the event trying to organise meetings with media, analysts, customers and prospects, that investment is going to be wasted. Almost everyone of any importance has a full diary of meetings before they walk through the doors of the Fira on the first day.
Take a look at the chart below – the trend line is very similar to the first chart but this time it’s showing a news search rather than a web search. Once again, there’s a huge peak at the time of the event but, particularly for smaller and mid-sized companies, it’s the attention in January and early February that is going to spark interest amongst customers and prospects. Unfortunately, just because the media are publishing pieces in January and February, it doesn’t mean you can wait until then. The lead times for most of the major media titles extend on the run up to MWC and so a significant proportion of the coverage that appears – news, features, by-lines etc. – has actually been secured pre-Christmas.
The Babel team will be representing a wide range of clients at Mobile World Congress again in 2017 – we’ll produce results for them all but the earlier we start, the better the result. There can be nothing worse than walking away from MWC with the knowledge that you’ve just invested a big chunk of your budget and you aren’t going to get a sensible return.
It’s that time of year again when planning for the annual pilgrimage to Barcelona for MWC begins. The showcase for the mobile industry has undergone a number of changes over the years. Since its inception the show has moved from Cannes to Barcelona, changed its name and more recently changed venue from the disparate Fira de Barcelona to the gigantic Gran Via Fira. However, most people will admit to missing the chaotic sprawl of Fira de Barcelona and the backdrop it provided. The avenue, the fountains and the Palace of Montjuic have been replaced by a taxi rank, several non-descript hotels and a shopping centre.
From the sheer number of people complaining of aching feet and rubbing their eyes all week, it can only be calm after the blister-inducing storm that is MWC.
Walking around the Fira Gran Via and even looking at the news once the debris has settled, one thing is clear – the event is no longer the fiesta of smartphone launches of a few years ago. The show appears to be evolving away from ‘Mobile World Congress’ to what is effectively a ‘Wireless Technology World Congress’.
This clearly has been the intention of the GSMA for some time. Having spent years promoting NFC, mobile payments and Bluetooth devices, the IoT and ‘smart everything’ has moved into prime position at the top of the Association’s wish-list. Walking through the halls offered the complete smart experience – from ‘5G-powered’ robots courtesy of SK Telecom to the array of connected cars wheeled out for the event.
Unfortunately what seemed to be lacking was a solid sense of direction. After talking to several journalists at the show there was a distinct underwhelming feeling about the launches and lecture programme. A second successive Mark Zuckerberg keynote failed to draw the level of queues and crowds of last year and a common comment was that 2015 was just ‘more of the same’.
5G still isn’t ready, VoLTE is still ‘on the way’ and connected devices are lacking the protocols and ubiquity needed to make them as smart as they could be. The only serious excitement about wearables is in colleagues comparing how many steps they had done each day – just like they were in 2008 with their pedometers in hand.
Of course, there were plenty of interesting innovations on display, but unlike previous years these weren’t the latest mobile devices. With Apple still not joining in the MWC party, Samsung announcing its new handset prior to the event, Sony opting for CES instead for its phone launches, Nokia dead and BlackBerry missing in action, perhaps the all-star handset launch in Barcelona is finally over.
What we have been left with is very much a networking event to discuss all facets of the technological landscape, rather than one with a solid, preset news agenda based around lectures and launches. Well, that, a couple of connected toothbrushes and a lot of blisters.
Gongs galore, we’re wrung out from show season. Last week saw Technology for Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A) and broadcast’s Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) and this week Barcelona hosted the mobile industry chart-topper Mobile World Congress (MWC). Panda-eyed Babelites started to limp back yesterday from the four-day conference after a gruelling 130 media briefings.
This was a baptism of fire for our new graduate team. My first project when I joined Babel was leading our 2014 Graduate recruitment programme. Following a fair amount of intensive formal and on the job training, they’re iridescently taking wing from their chrysalises, culminating in a phenomenal MWC. So, for graduates looking to join the trade show fun in 2016 here are our top ten PR101 tips: Read More