Top of the Pops at MWC – What a Difference a Year Makes

Here at Babel, we’ve been deeply involved in the mobile sector ever since the company was founded, so it won’t come as any surprise that we have a big team at Mobile World Congress every year. This year is no exception – we’ll be looking after a number of clients located in Hall 1 to Hall 8 and the team will spending plenty of time running between them all (there really is no need for visits to the hotel gym at MWC).

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. To illustrate that, we thought we’d take at look at this year’s registered exhibitors and see which sub-sectors they all consider themselves to be operating within.

Here are the top 20 market sectors measured by the number of exhibitors ‘tagging’ a particular sector within their exhibitor listing (they can list up to five).

Mobile World Congress chart

Now, I know a year is a long time (although acceleratingly shorter as I get older), but we also did this piece of analysis last year and there have been big changes since. ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, now in the top five, weren’t even in the top 20 last year! In fact, a total of nine market sectors are new chart entrants.

Nobody with any experience in the sector would be naive enough to think that all of those companies pop up overnight and so it might be useful to think about this as the mobile industry’s Top of the Pops. The popularity of individual songs (stated market sectors) might change rapidly, but the underlying genres and the artists (companies) typically endure for a much longer period.

To illustrate the point, take a look at the number one slot, ‘IoT/M2M’. If the GSMA had split those two categories this year M2M wouldn’t be anywhere near the top 20, but we all know there are blurred lines between the two. Speaking of blurred lines and our Top of the Pops analogy, think about it as the similarity between Marvin Gaye’s 1977 single ‘Got To Give It Up’ and ’Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (from whom Gaye’s family extracted nearly $8 million in damages and royalties).

There is a serious communications point here. If you’re running around MWC singing Kylie’s ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ and all your prospects, customers and the media are belting out one of Taylor Swift’s numbers, you might not actually be so lucky…

See you all at MWC!

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