Walking down the main avenue here at Mobile World Congress I watched some gulls having an arial battle, oblivious to the crowds below who all work for companies fighting it out in the turbulent mobile industry. The pace of change in mobile was a theme running throughout the keynote/panel with John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telecom, and Ben Verwaayan, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent. The topic was ostensibly mobile cloud, but the discussion touched on subjects that affect all of the mobile industry, primarily from carrier and network infrastructure standpoints.
Oberman on how telecoms need to get away from the ghosts of their monopolistic, slow-moving pasts: "We have a hard time as an industry to cannibalize ourselves. We need to think differently in the future."
Verwaayen on the changing role of telecom service providers: "Telecoms will no longer be verticals, but will be a horizontal in other people's businesses."
Chambers on the improvements in performance and service that companies must provide: "Average is over. And being above average will only be good enough for the next 3-5 years."
Lots of statistics flew around as well: 26x increase in mobile traffic from 2010 to 2015; 50 billion connected devices by 2020 (machine-to-machine or Internet of Things); in 2011, mobile traffic exceeded internet traffic by 8x.