Nostalgia at Mobile World Congress 2017

2/27/2017
— Meredith Lynch, WE 

I lined up with thousands of other tech industry enthusiasts arriving in Barcelona yesterday for Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC 2017). Feeling, I will admit, a little skeptical, I’ll see much this week that excites me – and I’m hoping to be proven wrong. Starting today, I am searching every inch of the show for something interesting in the latest handsets, tablets, VR and AR developments and wearables – but what I’m really hoping for is something totally unexpected.

Already there is big news from Samsung, Huawei (watches & handsets), LG and Nokia.  This annual homage to all things mobile, hosted in Barcelona, is the opportunity for the mobile industry (and let’s face it – not much isn’t mobile these days) to showcase emerging technologies and capture the attention of skeptical investors, influencers and dealmakers.   

It’s not news that mobile infiltrates almost every part of our lives from food, (one of my neighbours on the flight from London was bringing an IOT enabled coffee machine to demo hacking it) health & fitness, interiors and transportation.  In fact, last year Cisco reported that by 2020 mobile connected devices would surpass the global population.

With technology advancing at the speed of light, it’s easy to see why it doesn’t impress us as much as it should – and makes me wonder if that’s why we’re seeing a bit of nostalgia in this year’s news.  

When you think of the early days of mobile phones you have to think back to brands like Nokia, which has started its MWC 2017 effort strong with a set of new Android devices. CCS Insight predicted last November that Nokia-branded Android smartphones could grab up to 5% of the smartphone market by 2019 – what do you think?

Motorola, now a subsidiary of Lenovo, is another brand to watch this year. Remember the distinct “Hello Moto”? Motorola is refreshing their 4-year-old Moto 5 Line G5 with a 5-inch full HD display, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and Moto G5 Plus with a bigger 5.2-inch display, 64GB storage and rear camera with dual autofocus pixels.

Will Blackberry’s new touch and type phone help usher it back into popular culture? Or will it rely on the re-release of its classic keyboard? Blackberry’s new smartphone codenamed ‘Mercury’ will feature a touchscreen and the company’s iconic QWERTY keyboard underneath. Information about exact specifications is limited, except that it will likely run Android 7.0 Nougat, have a 4.5-inch full HD display, 3GB RAM, 32GB of internal storage and USB Type-C support.

It feels like things are coming full circle. Is this year’s nostalgia a way of re-engaging a consumer who views mobile devices as commodities?  Many of us are suckers for a bit of nostalgia – especially when we’re no longer wowed by feeds and speeds.  I’m a sucker too – there’s just nothing better than reliving the memories of our earliest mobile experiences. Game of Snake, anyone?