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Mobile industry promises smarter everything at Barcelona show


*Discussions on artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality and the latest gadgets including smartphones are some of the things one can expect from this
year’s Mobile World Congress, Europe’s biggest annual technology industry gathering.*


Telecom operators are looking to artificial intelligence as a potential money-spinner to combat stagnating mobile service revenues as once-lucrative features like text messaging have become commoditized and customer growth wanes as almost everyone who can afford a phone and a data plan already has one.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses computers to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as taking decisions, recognizing text, speech and images, or translating foreign languages.

Several big-name telecom providers are launching own-brand home digital assistants which are two-way speakers such as those used by Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home.

France’s Orange has Djingo; Germany’s Deutsche Telekom Magenta and Spain’s Telefonica Aura, market research firm Ovum said.

Device makers also spot a marketing opportunity for their latest glass-and-metal phones by including AI features inside to help cameras take smarter pictures or to anticipate the interests of their users.

Big announcements

Barcelona will feature a series of announcements by mobile operators which want to reinvent themselves as digital ‘platforms’ – offering apps such as video messaging; music streaming or mobile video on demand on top of their traditional voice- and data-driven services.

Turkcell, for example, aims to offer its Lifecell platform, which includes a range of apps for messaging, entertainment, music, TV and e-commerce, to foreign partners at the event.

The industry also wants to do much more with the data it collects from its users which will give network operators insights into spending patterns. Processing new streams of data from networks of industrial or road sensors also holds promise.

Yet this pits them against the likes of U.S. tech giants Amazon, Google or Facebook that have proven adept at recruiting users and exploiting their data to sell products, services or advertising.

4 eyed smartphones and the real 5G

Asian smartphone makers will launch an array of new phones this weekend, but many are international versions of models already on sale in China, which with 1.4 billion subscribers is, by far, the world’s biggest mobile market.

Samsung unveiled its flagship Galaxy S9 smartphone on Sunday with an emphasis on visual applications for social media, hoping to attract tech savvy young consumers to weather a market slowdown.

Cameras, the more the merrier, are all the rage, with some phone models boasting four to five built-in cameras.

The exhibition halls in Barcelona are buzzing with talk of ultra-fast mobile video, connected cars, factory automation, digital health and smarter cities.

Also, 5G, long the subject of arcane technical debates and an elusive search for concrete applications, is finally getting down to business.


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