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Complete mobility
- report from Mobile World Congress 2013, Barcelona

 Photo: App-centric at the Congress.
 App-centric at the Congress.
App Planet, the section devoted to mobile applications at the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, impressively showed the way this business continues to grow.

One company used Hong Kong's mobile-rich environment as the laboratory for tracing global app sales growth.

The so-called "expanding universe" of apps prompted a study by the Hong Kong office of Germany-based GfK, the data solutions company; its pavilion showed how the technology is experiencing an exponential boom in the SAR, and hence the world.

The study revealed that 85% of tablet-owning Hong Kong respondents "enjoy and actively browse" to find the latest apps on their device, with nine out of 10 respondents downloading free titles.

Also, three quarters of Hong Kong app shoppers who downloaded paid products spent an average of US$13 per month.

The sources for the study were app stores, social media and direct online recommendations.

Intriguingly, GfK found that the most effective "trigger" to drive downloads was not "pure" online plays but online versions of mainstream media outlets such as TV, newspapers, radio and magazines.

According to the research, apps most frequently used by Hong Kong - and, by extrapolation, consumers generally - were games (64%), social networking (53%), weather (49%) and entertainment (48%).

Photo: Digital content attracts a major player. Photo: Relevance can assist sales.
Digital content attracts a major player. Relevance can assist sales.

Walter Leung, Managing Director of GfK Hong Kong, said: "the overwhelming choice selection of apps means some may get neglected and seldom utilised, even after being downloaded. This is evidence of the famous 'long tail' of digital content."

Leung said an app needs to have a powerful "benefit and relevance" to the shopper or it will fail in the battle to occupy a space on consumers' smart devices.

GfK's iPanel survey used online tools to poll Hong Kong residents aged between 18 and 65, using quota on gender and age.

Mobile revolution and 4G

Both in the session dedicated to high speed 4G mobile broadband adaptability and at the LTE Summit, no doubt was left about how the 4th generation of mobility would revolutionise communications at both professional and personal levels.

In the auto field, 4G would reduce driver stress and road accidents, said delegates, as the technology rolled out for driver control and navigation assistance.

Photo: 4G assists the motor industry. Photo: LTE Summit underway.
4G assists the motor industry.
 LTE Summit underway.

As for public transport, it was calculated that 4G could generate time savings of up to 35%, which would also lead to pollution levels at an estimated 27 million-tonnes lower.

On education, 4G could enable 180 million children in developing countries to have access to higher education, while in health it would enable on-going checks for diseases and ultimately prevention or early treatment.

In the fight against hunger and poverty, millions of tonnes of food that's today damaged during transport and storage might be saved due to the advent of a 4G spectrum in the supply chain.

According to some estimates, this will enable 40 million people to be fed, equivalent to the population of Kenya.

Photo: Cost meets technology. 
Cost meets technology. 
Cost and technology challenges for companies in this sector were large, the audience at the Expo heard, because in the near future several billion people in developing countries would be connected to the Internet through telephone networks.

In many cases, these people will be ambitious and young, requiring the best services both in quality - needing between 700 and 900 MHz of power - and significantly lower prices.

Panelist Manoj Kohli, CEO and Joint Managing Director of India's Bharti Airtel spoke of demand typically for US$10 for broadband service attachment and US$30 to buy smart devices.

On novelties in the field, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop revealed a new range of feature phones at lower price points and targeted at developing markets.

 Photo: Nokia model.
 Nokia model.
During his keynote address, Elop reiterated that these mobile phones would be used to broaden the target market beyond its high-end Lumia smartphones.

Elop emphasised that such devices are also very much about connecting the "next billion" users even though they are not "smartphones". He added that Nokia's efforts to resolve these challenges include a built-in, cloud-based browser, the Nokia Xpress Browser, which saves on data consumption through compression.

The Nokia 301 also has exemplary battery power, according to Elop, citing a standby period of 39 days.

Other Nokia strategies include supporting content developers in local markets; installing smartphone features on lower-end phones such as high-end imaging and improving discovery capabilities with apps such as Nokia Nearby.

Asia heads "novelty" market

With regard to innovations displayed by Asian companies, Chinese mainland firm ZTE confirmed that its high-end mobile ZTE Grand Memo would be the first to carry the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 super processor.

ZTE executives said that one of the strategies for this year is to go for higher-end mobile operation that includes the Memo. The new "smarter" phone claims to offer unprecedented picture and surround-sound quality.

Japan's Sony Mobile CEO, Kunimasa Suzuki, said: "2013 will be a triumphant year for the company with its presence in the market for products such as the Sony Xperia Z Smartphone."

This is on sale in 60 countries, including Spain. The track record is excellent, since high-end mobile has become the best-selling smartphone in Japan, said Suzuki.

Another new product announced by the Japanese giant was the 10.1-inch Xperia Z Tablet, to be available globally in the second quarter.

Sony foresees competition with Apple and Samsung with its device, which the company says stands out for design (at 6.9 mm in width), lightness (at 500 grams), as well as for quality of screen, water-proofing, sand- and dust-proofing, and for its ability to integrate with the brand's TVs and smartphones.

Photo: Samsung stand. 
Samsung stand. 
South Korea's LG presented its new smartphones, but the most outstanding device was its high-end tablet Optimus G Pro. This is based on Android 4.1, incorporating Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM, 400 ppi and full HD resolution on a 5.5-inch screen.

Samsung presented its Samsung Wallet, a mobile payment system apparently similar to Apple's Passbook. This mobile app enables users to store and manage event tickets, boarding passes, membership cards and coupons all in one place.

Samsung Wallet's main feature - according to executives - is the easy-to-use, time- and location-based "push" notification.

Samsung Wallet will alert users to relevant coupons and tickets, providing increased access to "associated apps", not to mention real time updates on membership card points and changes to boarding passes, providing an e-commerce eco-system.

Taiwan's HTC came up with its One device, which was named Best New Mobile Handset by Congress delegates.

The smartphone works on the Android Jelly Bean operating system and has a 4.7-inch screen with 1080p resolution. Its design in one single piece and its powerful quad-core 1.7 GHz processor and 2GB RAM, make it a device that could be a game changer for popular smartphones, according to the company.

Photo: Samsung Galaxy. Photo: Huawei's smart new model.
Samsung Galaxy. Huawei's smart new model.

Mobile World Congress closed its 2013 edition in early March with more than 72,000 visitors from about 200 countries, including executives from the largest companies in sectors such as telephony, automotive and health.

Top names included Spain's Telefónica, the UK's Vodafone, as well as Intel, General Motors of the US and Sweden's Ericsson.

Organisers confirmed that Barcelona will continue to be the headquarters of Mobile World until 2018, including Mobile World Centre, the Mobile World Festival and the Mobile World Hub, held at various dates throughout the year.

from special correspondents Isabel Herrero and
José M Alarcón, Barcelona

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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