MWC 2023 observations. A view from the floor.

Jack Blog

March 7th, 2023 By Jack Morton

Jack leaders talk all things Mobile World Congress 2023. Key themes, trends, observations and what they’re already looking forward to seeing in 2024.

MWC 2023 observations

“A welcome and much needed return to optimism”

Mike Kunheim, EVP, Managing Director

Whist the macro pressures on the tech sector are playing out in the press, in workforce composition and on Wall Street they were not overtly on-show at MWC23. What was on-show was optimism. The optimism generated when a community meaningful connects, inspires, and energizes itself. Optimism for the power of brand experience. Optimism from an industry who believe technology will create a future we want to live in and accelerate solutions to our biggest problems as a society and planet. When the attention recession for brands and their most important audiences has never been more acute; MWC provided an engagement platform that lasted for days when other formats are typically measured in minutes or seconds. The value of brand experience has arguably never been greater.

Against the noise of a busy MWC the winners [Nokia, T-Mobile, SK telecom, Ericsson] recognized the value of values, reflecting and sharing with pride an authentic experience of what they believe in and a confidence to show up knowing who they are. That authenticity manifested in design craft, considered materiality, immersive content fusions and in a focus on creating an emotional feeling, a respite from the sensory overload.

The stand-out brands were the ones prepared to stand for something unique, genuine and show up with confidence. The followers, maybe overly ‘inspired’ by an Apple aesthetics and the me-too brands faded into the background and failed to maximize their ROE [return on experience].

Experience take-away: The value of values. To stand out make sure you stand for something authentic, unique and do it with pride. Show up as your true brand-self.

“Plenty of robots making drinks, moving packages, and circulating stands.”

Carrie Mahoney, VP, Strategy Director

MWC is growing again! After a respectable turnout in 2022 that saw a higher percentage of C-suite guests, attendance has soared closer to pre-pandemic levels with more operators and exhibitors returning. The halls were bustling with excited activity and eager conversations.

While 5G continued to be the star of the show, many companies focused on stories of the future – hinting at the development of 6G and creating visions of 2030 – with plenty of robots making drinks, moving packages, and circulating stands. However, it was the content that stood out this year, with VR theatrical experiences, AR glasses, and mixed reality demos plentiful across exhibitor stands. There was also a strong movement towards group immersive content that doesn’t require wearables to experience. Holograms, volumetric capture, anamorphic billboards, and deep-screen content were standouts in several halls.

Experience takeaway: The most impressive experiences are effortless, unencumbered, and natural; that is what creates magic.

“After last year’s slightly reserved congress, it was great to see it in full swing again as crowds of tech-hungry punters flooded into the Fira.”

Adrian Taylor, SVP, Executive Creative Director

Established brands and start-ups vying for attention packed the halls, and while it is hard to cut through the noise, eye-catching experiences were plentiful.

An immersive walk-through experience from Digico KT, an SK Telecom driverless taxi, and a bold block color LED façade display from STC. T-Mobile had unique anamorphic content and won the prize for sustainable furniture usage with their unusual foam soft furnishings held together with ratchet straps.

The standout presence was Nokia, who created an experience befitting their big news. They chose MWC to announce a re-brand to help shift perceptions of them from a mobile phone company to a B2B innovation and tech brand. Their massive 3D, content-infused facade and experience tunnel wowed visitors and were a win for content-led architectural statements. Despite the brand shift, they did have one of the most compelling stories. The humble Nokia G22 is truly innovative as it’s specifically designed in collaboration with iFixit to be repairable and allows the owner to replace their battery armed with some simple tools.

Experience takeaway:  Next year, brands should use the thousands of LED screens better by creating more immersive, engaging storytelling content.

“MWC is an electrifying experience where the power of connectivity comes to life to show how far we can push the boundaries.”

Marcel Clarke, Business Development Director

Every hall buzzed with energy and interaction, with many innovative, cutting-edge products and services on display.

The radically evolving landscape of smart mobility continues to accelerate with the development of pivotal technological innovations across electrification, autonomous vehicles, 5G connectivity, and micro-mobility.

Strategic business collaborations enabled companies to push visionary boundaries and provide audiences with holistic use cases that brought to life how the power of connected technologies will continue to revolutionize advancements in urban mobility. Immersive simulations leveraged virtual reality to bring audiences closer to the future of urban air mobility. At the same time, autonomous electric vehicles and micro-mobility solutions combine seamless connectivity to create an entertaining, personalized, and convenient experience for consumers.

The impact of smart mobility is undeniable, promoting a greener, safer, and more efficient travel experience with a tangible impact on the environment, businesses, and consumers.

Experience takeaway: Audiences don’t just want to be educated; they want to feel inspired, entertained and share their experiences with others. The most memorable experiences at MWC23 combined all of those elements.