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Mobile industry promises smarter everything at Barcelona tech show

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Staff Writer | February 26, 2018
Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world's biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales.
Barcelona show
Technology   Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers
But with no major innovations awaited in handsets, analysts expect the four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to focus on new uses for artificial intelligence (AI) and the looming deployment of super-fast 5G wireless networks.

Telecom operators are looking to artificial intelligence as a potential money-spinner to combat stagnating mobile service revenues as once-lucrative features like text messaging have become commoditised and customer growth wanes as almost everyone who can afford a phone and a data plan already has one.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses computers to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as taking decisions, recognising text, speech and images, or translating foreign languages.

Several big-name telecom providers are launching own-brand home digital assistants which are two-way speakers such as those used by Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home.

France's Orange has Djingo; Germany's Deutsche Telekom Magenta and Spain's Telefonica Aura, market research firm Ovum said.

Device makers also spot a marketing opportunity for their latest glass-and-metal phones by including AI features inside to help cameras take smarter pictures or to anticipate the interests of their users.

Barcelona will feature a series of announcements by mobile operators which want to reinvent themselves as digital platforms offering apps such as video messaging; music streaming or mobile video on demand on top of their traditional voice- and data-driven services.

The exhibition halls in Barcelona will be full of talk of ultra-fast mobile video, connected cars, factory automation, digital health and smarter cities.

Also, 5G, long the subject of arcane technical debates and an elusive search for concrete applications, is finally getting down to business. The first commercial 5G roll-outs begin this year and next in the United States, Korea and Japan, creating new revenue streams for operators and beaten-down equipment makers.


 

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