GSMA Mobile World Congress 2014 Highlights

By Andrés Uribe, Expedition PR

Mobile-World-Congress-MWC-PreviewOver the past four days business leaders and enthusiasts of the mobile technology industry flooded the city of Barcelona, Spain, as they played a part in shaping the future of mobile. Once a year since 2006 Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA) hosts the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (before Barcelona the event was hosted in Cannes). This year’s event attracted 70,000 visitors and played host to product launches and some truly memorable keynote speakers. With overarching themes of security, connectivity, cheaper hardware and water-resistant devices, here are a few highlights from the show:

Samsung announces Galaxy S5 – The much talked about Galaxy S5 was launched and all rumors surrounding it have been put to rest. Important things to note: The phone will begin selling on April 11 in 150 countries for $200 with a carrier contract and $600-$700 unlocked; wanted a metal version?..too bad, still all plastic; the phone will feature a fingerprint scanner that will allow you to unlock the phone and pay for services through PayPal; built-in heart-rate monitor, check; and possibly my favorite feature, the Galaxy S5 is water-resistant with the ability to be submerged up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Sony launches the Xperia Z2 Tablet – Weighing in at 439g (15.49oz) and measuring only 6.4mm (.25”) thick, the Xperia Z2 Tablet is the lightest and thinnest tablet to date. Set to hit the UK and European markets as soon as March, with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon processor this tablet sure does pack a punch. And like the Galaxy S5, the Xperia Z2 tablet is also water-resistant.

Mark Zuckerberg explains WhatsApp Acquisition – The $19 billion question on the top of everyone’s mind, why did Facebook acquire WhatsApp? The simple answer, In this 45 minute talk, Mark details why the project and how Facebook will be a major player and driving force (though not the only factor, he couldn’t stress enough that this is a joint project with many companies and service providers working toward a shared goal) behind connecting the world to the internet. Messaging along with access to information such as general health websites are things that should be common access to people all throughout the world, says Mark. Acquiring WhatsApp is a piece in the puzzle of this long term vision.

Cheap Smartphones – In an effort to target emerging markets, and in a way part of the project whether it was their intention or not, Nokia and Mozilla are each releasing low priced smartphones. The Nokia X coming in at $119 for the basic version, is very similar to the Windows-based Lumia, but it runs on a modified Android OS. And even cheaper, though only a prototype at the moment, is the $25 Mozilla Huawei Y300 smartphone. Though there is no release date planned for the Huawei Y300, it is rumored that the phone will be available within the next couple of months.

Blackphone Launches – For those security conscious individuals out there, there is finally a phone for you. Blackphone is a phone designed to run a version of Android software that does not use any Google apps or services. Instead Blackphone comes stock with voice and messaging apps from Silent Circle, and a two-year subscription to the accompanying services. These apps are designed to provide encryption for all your communication needs in order to ensure that your messages are reaching your intended recipient and nobody else. Although the phone is not completely NSA monitoring proof, and Phil Zimmermann, one of the Blackphone creators, has said he will fire any employee who makes that claim, Blackphone comes with no ‘backdoors’ for government organizations and will therefore take a very sophisticated hacker some time to attempt tap your phone. Blackphone is currently taking preorders and is expected to ship in June 2014.