Governments and operators have come under increasing pressure to exclude Huawei’s 5G equipment from national networks, with justifications usually kept vague and wide-ranging rather than specific, and no evidence provided.

Given the role of Huawei’s 5G equipment in the network and the extent of existing testing and checking, realistic security risks that apply to Huawei and not to all other equipment suppliers are hard to conceive.

The risks of any ban are however very real; with Huawei one of only three global-scale telecoms equipment suppliers, and the preferred early choice for 5G radio equipment in the UK, removing this choice will massively increase costs and delay roll-outs of cutting-edge connectivity.

The combination of 5G, AI, IoT and big data were evangelised at MWC as generating massive scope for the transformation of multiple industries. 

That much is probably true, but it is the tech and consultancy companies who will likely receive the benefits, with connectivity revenue likely to be modest.

For the operators, 5G brings more capacity much needed for hungry smartphone users, and perhaps the opportunity to transform themselves into a leaner operating model.
 

Yet another annual hype cycle in 2018 can’t hide a tepid consumer appetite for all VR platforms and heavy weather for the industry as a whole

The launch of Oculus GO, a standalone device at an attractive price, is a milestone for VR; nevertheless, even Facebook remains worried about reach and the state of the industry

Mobile AR is still a strategic focus for Google and Apple, producing diverse applications instead of just games, but new headsets from Microsoft and Magic Leap which promise advanced MR experiences have no launch dates

The temporary cool-off in hype around VR following a very buzzy 2016 is not reducing the flow of investment and talent into the industry, notably in video production utilising 360Video technology; setting the stage for the development of a truly new entertainment medium

Fully immersive interactive worlds will continue to be the mainstay of the video games industry, while video entertainment will exist in a multi-track environment, with some genres (news, documentaries , natural history) making 360Video mainstream well before long-form narrative-driven entertainment

2017 will still be a challenging year for consumer device VR roll-out and mass market adoption; Oculus, Google, and Sony continue to seed the market, providing large scale funding and equipment directly to developers and content producers

 

 

Customer movement between operators shows susceptibility to dynamism in branding; O2 are picking up the majority of EE churners as customers move to the new “cool brand” while EE pull in Vodafone churners tempted by the new “best network”. O2 have the lowest churn though the lion’s share move to Vodafone and H3G churners are more evenly picked up by the other three

Customer perceptions of own operator network quality are high among the big 3 with no less than 75% of customers reporting theirs is the best network. O2 is the best regarded while H3G is the least best regarded highlighting a stark contrast between the (prospective) merging parties

Consumers report little interest in quad play and indeed operators in the both fixed and mobile markets have publicly confirmed the same from other market research. However the arrival of converged players in the form of a merged BT/EE or Vodafone re-entering the fixed space will see operators seeking to change this

Microsoft dominated PCs and Nokia mobile phones, but both are irrelevant in the dominant model for tech in the next decade, smartphones and tablets. An acquisition may have been necessary, but by itself it solves nothing.

Smartphones are now half of all mobile phone sales, and the 255m smartphones and tablets sold in Q2 2013 dwarf the 76m PCs sold. Microsoft now powers less than a quarter of all the personal computing devices being sold.

Microsoft retains a leading position in enterprise and in console gaming. But if it cannot return to relevance in consumer, the strength of the whole business will suffer.

Around 125m smartphones were sold globally in Q2, up over 30% from Q2 2011. Around 450m mobile handsets were sold in the quarter, giving smartphones a volume share of around 28% Apple and Android dominate with a combined of 85% of units sold, and a cumulative total of 810m devices running their mobile platforms. Of these we estimate that 680m are active, of which 95m are tablets Android arrived later and has grown faster, but Apple’s market share of smartphones as been steady at 20-25% for several years: Android’s growth has come at the expense of Nokia, RIM and feature phones

Mobile operators, services and handset makers are diverging – they all come to the MWC but have increasingly little to say to each other as their businesses move in very different directions

In the context of -5% European mobile revenue growth, the MNOs at the MWC were a sober bunch, focusing on industrial services, defensive moves around messaging, and a (not unreasonable) plea to regulators for some relief

As competition in Android intensifies between hundreds of black plastic rectangles, the picture for OEMs looks tough but Google’s failure to make Android work well for developers may also start to bite, leaving an opening for Nokia and Windows Phone