Mobile World Congress 2016: Day One

This week we are attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona.  We will take you through the key sessions from the first day in this blog post. For our full report, click here.

Highlights from Day One

  • “Mobile Is Everything” is the theme this year at the Mobile World Congress, and we are reporting what Telefónica, Google, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and others have to say about the mobile revolution.
  • Brand advertising is going “mobile first.”
  • The mobile economy already accounts for 4.2% of global GDP, employing roughly 30–32 million people.


“Mobile Is Everything” is the theme of #MWC16. On day one, many speakers noted the effects of the “mobile revolution.”

First, we heard from Telefónica CEO César Alierta, who noted the value in the digitalization of economies. He said that a 10% increase in digitalization in an economy has been forecast to yield a 40% uplift in GDP growth per capita. Alierta emphasized that a move to greater digitalization offers the prospect of wealth and opportunities for all members of a society, and he concluded that no society can afford to miss the opportunities it promises.

Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA, the organization behind MWC, then spoke about the scale and growth potential of the mobile economy.

The numbers are striking: some 7 billion devices are currently connected to the Internet, Granryd said. That number is expected to grow by another 1 billion by 2020.

Click through for our full report, with additional highlights.


Another keynote session on day one focused on the theme of connected living.

Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford, explained that Ford is a mobility company, not simply an automotive company. To serve growing numbers of urban consumers, Ford is moving into the adjacent transportation services market, such as with its GoDrive car rental service in London. It is also conducting research into self-driving cars; Fields said that Ford has the largest autonomous test fleet among the automakers. The first Ford self-driving car will be aimed at “millions” of consumers, he said, not at just a few wealthy drivers. Ford also used MWC as an opportunity to unveil its mobile wallet and membership service, FordPass.

PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman discussed how PayPal is moving from being an online company to being a mobile payments company. Schulman observes two major trends in mobile: it is redefining retail and commerce, including by blurring the online/in-store divide, and it is democratizing money, by making financial services easier, faster and less expensive to access.


We heard a panel of speakers discuss how brands can go “mobile first,” and what challenges they face when doing so. David Black, Managing Director of Branding & Consumer Markets at Google UK, focused on the video revolution, saying that “www” now means “where you want, where you want, when you want.” He noted some key trends, including “video is mobile” (as half of YouTube content is already watched via mobile devices) and “brand marketing is mobile” (as viewers are choosing what and when to watch).

Black concluded by suggesting three elements brands can use to make the most of online video: show up (be where consumers are), wise up (optimize for mobile and contextualize advertisements) and speed up (test consumers and learn from them quickly because consumer behavior changes fast). The recent surge in video usage and consumption was a theme revisited by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later in the day.


Mark Zuckerberg speaking at MWC 16

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrapped up the day in conversation with Jessi Hempel, a senior writer at Wired. Zuckerberg talked about his goal of connecting more people across the globe to the Internet. For example, Facebook is testing unmanned, solar-powered planes that can beam down Internet connectivity to more isolated areas. Zuckerberg said Facebook is not interested in making money with innovations such as this; the goal is simply to help people get on the Internet. Some 3 billion people are forecast to remain offline in 2020, he noted.

A second major theme Zuckerberg talked about was how content had changed on Facebook: 10–12 years ago, usage was primarily about text. Then it became about photos, and now it is much more about video.

A shift to video was also major trend for Facebook in 2015.

Click through for our full report for more from Mark Zuckerberg.


Follow along with us on Twitter as we live tweet from #MWC16: @RetailTechStrat and @Debweinswig