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Straight Talk Consumer and Entertainment Services

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Like a growing number of companies from across the telecoms, media, and technology (TMT) sector, Ovum is busy preparing for this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC). We'll shortly publish the 2018 version of our highly popular MWC: What to Expect report and will be sending over 20 analysts to the conference. In the meantime, here's some quick answers to the big questions clients are asking us about this ever-important event in the TMT industry's calendar.

What will be the hot topics at MWC 2018?

The big three topics – 5G, IoT, and artificial intelligence (AI) – will overlap and interlock. 5G will be fleshed out with demo smartphones, radio access and antenna innovation, and use cases for network slicing, enterprises, and IoT. For IoT, expect to hear more announcements about low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network trials, deployments, and commercialization strategies. AI will permeate everything from consumer and enterprise IoT to self-optimizing networks and support systems to smart devices and digital assistants, but not all demos at MWC 2018 will be genuinely intelligent – or useful.

How will the mobile landscape change in the next 12 months?

We'll see decisive shifts in strategies and allegiances from players across TMT. Video will be a key driver, with several mobile-first service launches, bundling partnerships, and mergers & acquisitions. Operators and Google will look to Rich Communication Services (RCS) to square off against WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other OTT apps in the lucrative application-to-person (A2P) messaging market. Numerous players will decide whether to compete or collaborate – or both – in the market for digital assistants, with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant securing the most partnerships. We'll also see leading enterprise IT and cloud providers add connectivity to offer one-stop-shop IoT solutions, while network vendors will make tangible progress selling direct to enterprises.

What are the biggest challenges facing the wireless sector this year?

Getting consumers excited again and selling into industry verticals are the biggest challenges. As smartphones and 4G have become commonplace, mobile technology has lost some of its magic, and 5G looks unlikely to set the consumer's world on fire. AI, augmented reality, and the smart home offer some hope, but will be defined and dominated by the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google. The enterprise market for mobile and IoT solutions appears more promising for operators and telecoms vendors, but will become increasingly complex, fragmented, and contested by IT vendors and cloud providers in 2018.

Which technologies will have the biggest impact on mobile and beyond?

AI applications that genuinely improve people's lives will have a big impact. While AI has great potential to drive usage, spend, and operational savings, companies must truly put consumers' interests first if they're to succeed. Digital assistants, for example, need to do more than coax clicks, drive purchases, or serve advertising; they need to help people achieve their goals. This will require a major mind-shift for all consumer-facing companies, from mobile operators to content providers to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

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