That telecommunications companies are taking the back seat at the global Mobile World Congress as virtual reality hogs the limelight, it may be telcos are facing the fate their managers fear most – becoming a mere utility.
Following the hype around virtual reality at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last months, it’s not surprising this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has continued the theme.
As Samsung and Huawei dominated the first day of the Barcelona event; Google, Facebook and a range of startups are also fighting to dominate a market estimated being worth $150 billion by the end of the decade.
What’s notable though are how the telecommunications companies are missing in this field, having lost the battle for payments – its notable how little telco money is now being invested in fintech and blockchain companies while the banking industry pours money into the sectors.
For the telcos, the industry that should be dominating Mobile World Congress, there seems to be very little promise in these technologies to their maturing revenue streams from their networks.
While telcos are focusing on new handsets, data centres, intelligent infrastructure and media plays it seems they are increasingly missing key shifts in the marketplaces.
Maybe what this year’s Mobile World Congress really tells us is the telcos are on their way to being utilities. Their executives may need to swallow some pride.