Editor's Corner—MWC Americas show expects to grow, with an entertainment focus

Show organizers expect attendance at this year's MWC Americas event will top last year's. (FierceWireless)
Mike Dano

Mobile World Congress Americas show organizers expect the event to grow slightly in terms of attendance over last year's event. And to accomplish this, show organizers are working to move the focus off of phone accessories and toward media and entertainment.

“We’re trying to clean up the show,” explained Reed Peterson, GSMA’s head of the MWCA show. Peterson explained that previous shows had an overweight focus on phone accessories like cases and headphones. He said that, with this year's show, the GSMA hopes to refine the focus toward a higher-level, business-to-business event.

“We're also not trying to be all things to all people,” he said.

Peterson said that last year's show brought in around 21,740 attendees, and he expects this year's show ought to top that. He also said that exhibitors this year will include the likes of Microsoft, T-Mobile, Cisco and Google. He said that last year the show counted 940 exhibitors, a figure he said will likely be higher this year due to the fact that last year’s show focused more heavily on phone accessories.

Peterson said that show organizers expect discussion topics to include media, artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G. Indeed, all of the country’s major wireless network operators are planning to launch 5G services in the coming months, so show attendees can likely expect plenty of 5G tech demos. And Peterson said that the media aspect of the show would be bolstered by the fact that the show is being held in Los Angeles and will include keynotes and appearances by representatives of HBO, Hulu and AEG.

Peterson also pointed out that this year's MWC Americas show will include a wide variety of partner programs including events on drones, CBRS and other areas.

“You're going to see a whole lot about the connections of the future,” he said. “You'll see a lot of innovation and disruption.”

FierceWireless of course is hosting its own breakfast events again this year at the show. Expect to hear from top executives from the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile across two different breakfast events, one focused on 5G on Sept. 12 and one focused on RAN innovation on Sept. 13.

Peterson also addressed Apple’s decision to host its iPhone launch event on Sept. 12, right in the middle of the MWCA show. “We love Apple,” he said, adding that Apple executives will be at this year’s MWCA show, though they will likely keep a low profile. He said that show organizers are actually working with Apple on a pilot project to integrate the show’s registration system into the iOS Wallet application.

Separately, Peterson said that this year the MWC Americas show will host roughly 8,000 students from around the Los Angeles area for what he described as a science fair. Students on the lower levels of the convention center will be able to check out technology ranging from robotics to virtual reality. Peterson added that another major partner event will focus on women in tech in conjunction with the show.

And what of next year's MWC Americas? Peterson said that the show will be hosted again in Los Angeles next year, but that it will be moved to later in October so that the show may possibly be able to stand as a launchpad for holiday devices, including phones. (As it stands now, no major handset manufacturer is planning a launch event at this year's MWC Americas.)

As always, FierceWireless will be on the ground in Los Angeles, covering all of the major keynotes, events and press conferences at the show; I’ll be joined there by my colleague Monica Alleven. Stay tuned to our site for our full coverage, or follow @FierceWireless for up-to-the-minute news. — Mike | @mikeddano