3 Key Trends from Mobile World Congress 2013

By Leonard Hayes

AMT-SYBEX joined an estimated 72,000 people in Barcelona last week for the annual gathering of technology and business leaders involved in the mobile industry. This gigantic confluence of hardware manufacturers, software developers and telecoms giants always delivers new toys for the committed followers who flock to this event annually.

Mobile World Congress 2013 venue

Whilst much of the show is dedicated to the latest LTE network components and consumer tech, a reasonable proportion covers the evolving world of mobile business platforms, infrastructure, software, products and tools.

Now that we’ve had a couple of days to decompress from the sheer scale and diversity of the event, we can recognise 3 key trends for enterprise mobility:

1) New mobile OS platforms will strengthen the need for multi-platform development

On the mobile OS front, Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, and Tizen all made a splash as they launched an offensive against the industry heavyweights, iOS and Android. Whilst we can be sure this particular technology battle will rage on into the future, the impact of further mobile OS platforms on the development market is less certain. Providers of mobile business solutions will need to balance the benefits of multiple platform support against the additional effort in providing robust solutions to the market. Regardless of the outcome in this latest phase of the mobile OS wars, one thing is certain – the case for HTML5 and Hybrid development never looked so good.

2) The HMTL vs. native debate is far from over

The “For” and “Against” camps were present once again at MWC. With W3C leading the charge and others like Intel offering free conversation tools to help release the development community from the “walled gardens” of iOS, you could walk away assured that HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 have finally come of age. Turn another corner into the developers den and you find contract development houses, tool vendors and social media tech companies warning of the failed hybrid projects that finally resorted to writing native code.

And then there’s the Facebook factor, who in a very high profile way, had publicly renounced HTML5 and rewritten their apps natively. Nobody doubted that HTML5 will eventually be the dominant standard for most mobile apps, but as for the timeframe – they were still debating as we left.

3) Cloud deployments will live or die on their integration with the “boring” back-office

Analyst predictions for the big themes of 2013 were aligned around mobile, social and cloud. An exciting year ahead as mobile vendors offer more cloud based services and more of our traditional mobile challenges become commoditized in platforms like Mobile Application Management, delivered in the cloud.

Whilst much focus is on the new devices and platforms, some of the analysts are warning that the traditional integration to back-office will become the bottleneck as mobile, social and cloud deliver faster and better user experiences. Expectations are racing ahead, investment is focused on the device in your hand and few are considering the “boring” bit of the puzzle, the business back-end. Innovation needs to recognize the end-to-end process, not just the mobile experience.

Another great week at MWC with record attendance and continued growth and innovation from all corners of the globe. As software developers who have been working in the mobility arena for 14 years, it is always exciting to come to these events, it certainly showcases how quickly mobile technologies have become mainstream and gives us plenty of food for thought as we plan our product release cycle for 2013 and beyond.