MWC19: The Assessment - part 3

5G needs a new label

This blog is part of a series: the third and final instalment.  The full series are thoughts from walking Mobile World Congress 2019. I had three main observations from MWC19, in Barcelona:

  1. Everyone’s at near pole position
  2. Premium is the new normal
  3. 5G needs a new label

To recap the first two blogs – most major exhibitors, with a few exceptions, have moved up to the same high, experiential level – immersive and interactive.  That’s great but standing out from the crowd is tough.

Like the high street, where many brands are pushing ‘premium strategies and experiences’ the same psychology is infiltrating MWC.

However, there’s a bigger elephant in the room: 5G. Has anyone really captured the spirit of 5G? I’d argue the label is wrong.

5G needs a new label

5G was blazoned on every conceivable surface. If only I could collect a dollar every time I saw a 3D 5G logo!

The problem starts with the label: 5G. It’s a misnomer. A hang over from the 90s and noughties. A fixation with a linear, incremental symbol of Progress.  An engineering view of the world – spectrum, bandwidth and speed.

3G, 4G, 5G, 6G, 7G. You can write the story now.  But, 5G is a step change. Far greater than the sum of its parts.

5G is now indivisible with AI, ML, combining, analysing and then harnessing data from diverse ecosystems. Not to mention, the cloud and edge computing dimension. The fusion of all these technological and market forces changes 5G into something far greater than a single digit.

5G will change industries beyond all recognition. And for the consumer it will transform time, place and context to be a more immediate and hyper-personalised experience. 

Nokia made a good attempt to capture the multi-faceted nature and application of 5G.
Throw-away thought on the floor?
On, but what is it?

To be fair, the GSMA got it right with the MWC19 theme: Intelligent Connectivity. However, to rely on an incremental moniker, like 5G, dotted around a booth or peppering animations and filmic content, to capture something life-transforming, and earth-quaking for most industries, doesn't do justice to the cause.  A new label is needed, or a double digit jump.


Note: the examples shown here are not clients of Shelton Fleming. These are observations taken from walking MWC19.

Andrew Reid

Andrew Reid

Author: Andrew Reid is a director at Shelton Fleming Associates – CX experts in how B2B brands engage senior level audiences, through live experiences and immersive, digital content.

Further reading