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5 Hot Topics to Look Out For at MWC 2017
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Mobile World Congress, or MWC, in Barcelona is the biggest mobile conference of the year, bringing together mobile enthusiasts from around the world to learn, meet, geek out, and party. The giants always tend to schedule big announcements for the conference. This year Samsung is expected to reveal their foldable smartphone prototype, and Sony is rumored to announce five new devices. Not to mention that the speaker and keynote events will shape the mobile conversation for the rest of the year. Here’s what we can expect.

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1. Chatbots and virtual assistants

The chatbot and virtual assistant craze took off in early 2016. Since then, people everywhere have begun to embrace the medium -- using it to order Taco Bell from Slack and ship FedEx packages with Alexa. The intensifying battle between Alexa, Siri, Google Home, etc., (Google paid $5M for that Super Bowl ad) has marked 2017 as the year of artificial intelligence.

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There are a bunch of speaker events at MWC surrounding AI. Be sure to catch a few, so you can be prepared for the upcoming AI revolution.  

2. The telco opportunity

Telcos fuel today’s mobile revolution, providing the connectivity which powers our in-app experiences and everything else mobile has to offer. But until now, they haven’t been able to properly participate and take advantage of the lucrative market; telcos around the world have been struggling to maintain growth and find new revenue streams.

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To maintain relevance and profitability, telcos are trying to adapt their business models and hop on the digital bandwagon. We’ve seen it with Verizon, AT&T, and now Sprint -- all of which are buying into adtech or digital content to increase their offerings beyond their so called “dumb pipes.”

At MWC this year, a slew of speakers will focus on the mobile operator opportunity. In other words, how can mobile operators drive new revenue, increase their brand value, and make meaningful connections with consumers?

3. Virtual reality and augmented reality

The conversation around virtual and augmented reality on mobile exploded last year, thanks to the success of Pokemon Go. But experts are wondering just how much the AR/VR markets are worth. Was the Pokemon Go boom a one-time thing? Or will others be able to replicate its success in the future? Looking at Snapchat’s success, it seems AR on mobile could easily find favor with Gen Z users. But the hardware adoption challenge is only growing, making it all the more difficult to scale.

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It’s an important conversation to be a part of, especially since app developers and advertisers have a lot to gain from AR's success.

4. Video

No matter the region, users everywhere are flocking to mobile video. It’s why the medium is quickly becoming a go-to format for communicating brand messages, acquiring quality users, and monetizing existing ones. With live mobile video expected to grow 39x in the next five years, and OTT video revenue to more than double by 2021 - publishers, brands, mobile networks, and operators are all positioned to win big.

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This coming year, the industry will focus heavily on video, and making sure it can optimize for mass consumption and user experience. Mastering video content will give every player in the mobile world a leg up. Let’s click play.

5. Autonomous vehicles

It’ll be a bit longer until Back to the Future’s flying cars prediction comes true, but driverless and connected vehicles are becoming more of a reality everyday. Mobile networks, namely 5G, are what’s going to power this real-life fantasy, but some aren’t sure 5G is equipped to handle the demand.

Still, before we get ahead of ourselves, laws and regulations will need to be adapted -- which will likely take quite some time to happen. It was only a few months ago in December 2016 that state law demanded Uber cancel its autonomous car service in San Francisco. What are the logistics for making autonomous vehicles an everyday reality?

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