CES 2019 was a dud. It happens. Some years are more exciting than other. The world of technology ebbs and flows. Time is a flat circle. All that glitters is gold. Only shooting stars break the mold.
MWC, on the other hand – I've just come out of this show for a while now. The mobile industry is a crossroads. Smartphone sales have begun to stagnate and recede for the first time since analysts started tracking the things. Heck, this was the conference of the Mobile World Congress for MWC Barcelona.
That sort of sly rebranding takes some of the heavy lifting off of the "mobile" bit for what has come to be considered the world's premier smartphone launching pad. Do not be too surprised to see a shift into the broader world of consumer electronics, a la CES or IFA.
The upshot of all this is a newfound sense of experimentation. Keeping shareholders happy requires constant growth, and kickstarting sales wants to take some compelling reasons to upgrade. This year's the first time, perhaps since the original iPhone, that we've seen a radical shift in form factors, with Samsung, Huawei, TCL and Oppo all announcing foldable phones in the last couple of weeks.
altogether, but I'm definitely on-board for the kind of differentiation they bring. While it's true that a lot of the players are doing their best, we've got some unique approaches.
The average price point, which is currently hovering around $ 2,000, wants to see that. Huawei, for one, seems to have tempered its expectations around the category. Mobile chief Richard Yu quite nearly apologizes for the price of the Mate X on the other day.
But the inability to pay the flagship smartphone should not be mistaken for a lacuna of interest, nor should it be used as a justification for pulling back on experimentation. In a recent conversation, the CEO of Light discussed how the maturity of the smartphone category was.
He was speaking about different camera arrays on the backs of phones, but I do not see why that can not apply to the space in broader terms. Apple or Samsung.
For years, smartphones have constituted one of the few consistent trends in other fragmented media landscapes. It's not too hard to imagine a similar transformation, in which smartphones are less uniform, but better suited to users' individual needs.
Of course, it seems as if it is not more likely – that handset makers will finally pull the plug on any device that fails to catch the world on fire.
Here's hoping, however, that this year's MWC marks the first step for a mobile space long overdue for a radical shakeup.