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Great expectations: our predictions for Mobile World Congress 2019

By Freeman®

Mobile World Congress 2019 Barcelona kicks off in less than a week and our team at Freeman is getting excited about what they are going to be able to experience at this year’s event. After all, for months, the world’s leading and most influential brands have been strategising and creating new and interesting ways to activate their presence at MWC 2019.

We asked our experts in Digital, Creative, Strategy, Custom Design & Build, and Brand Experience, what they are expecting to see and experience at Fira.


A real and personal human experience among technological wizardry

David Fisher, Sales Director, Custom Build

MWC is always an exciting exhibition, full of impressive exhibition stands of mind-boggling size. It’s one of the foremost trade shows in the world for seeing the latest technology and audio-visual. For me, I like to see how exhibitors provide a human experience amongst all the technological wizardry – I’m looking forward to seeing something playful, fun and personal.

A beautiful experience that engages the senses

Claudia Stephenson, VP, Brand Experience

I want to experience. Immersive is good. But there need to be phases to the experience. When you’re in a sea of brands—first and foremost, what is going to have me “pause” to stop and want to take a closer look. What is beautiful, meaningful, thought-provoking and engaging to my senses. Ericsson and Huawei always have an element of exclusivity, which is great if you’re one of the “exclusive”. But if you’re not—there’s serious FOMO!

Extreme personalisation

Adam Jones, Director, Digital Products

This is a truly exciting time for anyone working in the space of events and brand experiences. We’ve seen an incredible acceleration of enhancements in DARQ technologies (distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and quantum computing) in the past three years alone. Our markets and audiences keep changing, sometimes as frequently as daily. We need to be able to pivot instantly to respond to their needs – that’s something DARQ technology can provide. For instance, with so-called “Get to know me” technologies, brands can build and develop relationships with their ever-changing audiences with highly individualised experiences by using blockchain and artificial intelligence. Will we be able to witness this at MWC this year? I can’t wait to see.

The event of experiences as an experience itself

David Fisher, Sales Director, Custom Build

I’m interested to see what happens in areas like Halls 5, 7 and 8. In recent years MWC could feel like two exhibitions glued together – a super-lavish, all-singing and all-dancing mega-show with mega-brands (Halls 2, 3 and 4 and the Huawei stand) and then a more conventional, standard European trade show elsewhere. What will exhibitors be doing in the less-well-travelled halls to attract attention?

Emily Shaw, Head of Strategy

Mobile World Congress is an impressive experience for anyone who gets the chance to go. It can also be overwhelming: the sheer volume of people that attend means it’s hard to get access to stands and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of competing brand messages.

Last year I took one of the GSMA guided tours for the first time and it changed my experience of the congress entirely. The (digital retail) tour not only told the story of mobile tech innovation across retail but more importantly gave me a new appreciation of the wider context of MWC and a greater level of access to useful information. Ultimately, the tours facilitate a more meaningful and engaging experience of the conference as you stop at different stands around the halls, get mini presentations from subject matter experts, and get to hear directly from the brands. An illuminating experience, one that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in digging a little deeper.

Samsung took the spotlight last year with their Galaxy 9 launch, impressive stands on the exhibition floor and a pop up on the corner of Plaça de Catalunya in the centre of Barcelona. They set the trend for brands to extend their MWC presence across different touchpoints throughout the Fira and around the city. This year I’m keen to see how other MWC exhibitors adopt this approach to amplify their stories of innovation and connection.

Artificial intelligence

Human connections made real with technology

Claudia Stephenson, VP, Brand Experience

How will brands articulate and engage intelligently? It’s not all about robots and faux engagement. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we crave engagement in any or all of our senses. There are always some standouts and I’m really looking forward to who will surprise and delight!


The slowburn of 5G

Simon Boniface, Executive Creative Director

Over the past few years we’ve seen the slow-burn of conversation around the development of 5G networks and what might be possible once it comes on-line. Now we’re beginning to see tangible products and services that use it to its full potential. We’re moving from expectation to realisation and I fully expect to see how exhibitors are putting it into action.

Industry 4.0

The post-digital era for the events industry is in sight

Adam Jones, Director, Digital Products

There’s a lot of buzz around the so-called ‘post-digital era’ at the moment. “Post-digital” means that digital can no longer be seen as the differentiator for a company or brand. The playing fields have levelled and it has become the norm for (many) industries that digital runs through its veins and is part of the integrated whole – not something that sets them apart. What was once seen as disruptive technologies, like mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), or even social, is now – for many – part of everyday life. Companies need to think beyond their ongoing digital transformation and ask themselves: what is the next thing that will give us that competitive edge?

As we’re more and more experiencing some real-life implementations of key technologies, like artificial intelligence, blockchain, even extended reality, what was once disruptive now weaves itself into our understanding of the everyday. In the event space, we’re not quite in the ‘post-digital era’ yet; there’s still a lot of work to be done to make the use of digital technologies feel ingrained. I’m interested to see how exhibitors at Mobile World Congress set themselves apart with the smart use of digital products this year and set a trend for other large-scale events in 2019 and beyond.

Simon Boniface, Executive Creative Director

This industry moves fast and I expect the Internet of Things (IoT) to feel like mature technology now the focus is moving to 5G. It’s getting real! There’s a growing convergence of industries into the connected tech space - especially from automotive and I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing an even bigger invasion from non-traditional mobile brands like fashion or home goods (even IKEA is starting to act like a tech company!). I’m also expecting to see a growing focus on global connectivity. While there will be plenty of conversation about how we create connected cities and driverless cars, we have to remember that half the world’s population is yet to send their first email.

Mobile as part of everyday life

Claudia Stephenson, VP, Brand Experience

How will the brands we hear about in the news each day articulate their leadership in all-things-mobility? It’s at this event each year that we pause to think about how all things mobile are part of our daily lives. And it’s inspirational to know that every many brand in tech invests in this event to share THEIR vision of how they’re contributing to leadership in technology, mobility, and connectedness.

What are you looking forward to the most and what are you expecting to see or experience at MWC? Follow us on Twitter @Freeman_EMEA and join the conversation through #FreemanAtMWC.

Freeman, the leading global provider of brand experiences, is an official approved partner for all Mobile World Congress (MWC) events worldwide and the recommended agency for exhibitors for creative, strategy, stand build and brand experiences for the flagship MWC event in Barcelona in February 2019.

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