It is once again time for my annual (14th consecutive to be specific) predictions for the mobile industry.  When I wrote last year’s predictions, I (and really no one) could have foreseen the momentous events that 2020 brought the world.  From the global COVID-19 pandemic to the significant Black Lives Matter protests, and actions, climate-related events, to the US presidential election, its aftermath and more.  All have impacted the wireless / mobile industry, but in many ways, the mobile industry has responded well to the pandemic, which has been the overriding issue for the planet in 2020.

At the beginning of 2019, we were in an extended government shutdown, but that blip is now ancient history. Since then, so much has happened – much of it good, but some of it not so good. 5G became a commercial reality; IoT flourished, but both also managed to disappoint in some areas. In our messaging world, rich communication services (RCS) gained ground, but mobile operators lagged, despite many actions from Google. Still, gains were made in all of these key areas.

Here we go again. This is the 12th consecutive edition of my mobile industry predictions, originally published in January of 2008. While we try to cover most major aspects of the mobile industry, we do tend to emphasize messaging-related topics as well as consumer engagement. But we also focus on key industry trends such as devices, mobile payments, and blockchain. If a trend begins to fall out of favor, then it may disappear from subsequent predictions. You can get a detailed review and accounting of my 2018 predictions here.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the record-breaking annual get-together of over 108,000 attendees in Barcelona, Spain, interested in mobile, 5G, connected cars, devices, augmented reality, virtual reality, cloud computing, IoT, and much, much more. As I do most years, I attended (I believe this might have been my ninth). MWC is the most important event for the mobile-focused industry. This year, the theme was “Mobile: The Next Element.”   The idea of this theme was to “reflect the elemental role of mobile in the lives of billions of people around the world.”  While I was quite busy with over 15 meetings and discussions in our massive (and popular) SAP stand, I was able to walk around occasionally during the 4 days to try to get a better understanding of this year’s major themes.