By: Dave Jones, Director of Propositions, Europe

What’s the buzz from Barcelona? Once more during the last week of February, all roads for Assurant led to Barcelona to see what new technology and innovation would be previewed at this year’s Mobile World Congress. The theme for 2019 was “Intelligent Connectivity” and as always, it didn’t disappoint! In between a jam-packed schedule of fantastic meetings with clients and partners, here are the key things we observed which are likely to impact the 48 million customers we serve in Europe.

Dawn of the 5G age Most networks are now actively trialling the new data transfer standard which will dramatically increase the ability of the internet to support the connected devices and appliances that we’ve all come to rely on. Manufacturers and carriers were all showcasing their technology and giving examples of their visions for the 5G future. New phones from most of the major manufacturers were announced with 5G chips, promising increased speed of connectivity. It will be interesting to see what collaborations and partnerships develop to take advantage of the technology but it will certainly mean more devices connected for us to protect and support.

Folding Phones Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X were high profile launches of folding phones. The devices themselves will be very expensive (from £2,000-2,500) and so are likely to be sold in relatively small volumes to start with. It is likely that during the rest of this year and into 2020 more manufacturers will follow suit which should bring prices down. It is unlikely that the current form factor of these first generation phones will be what we’re using in 5 years’ time but they are definitely a nod to the future of mobile phones. Cost and ease of repair will certainly be on our radar as this technology develops.

Motor Manufacturers Seat, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and VW all had dedicated stands at the event. Whilst there have been cars at the previous events, this year saw them take more of a starring role, showcasing concepts, alternative fuel technology, connectivity and autonomous driving. Development in this sector continues apace and innovations such as Pocket Drive should allow Assurant to cement our place protecting and supporting the connected consumer with their devices, homes and cars.

Best of the rest 2019 was widely regarded as the most exciting Congress in recent years. Numerous phones were launched by a range of manufacturers along with many other connected devices such as laptops (particularly the “Always Connected PC” or “ACPC”), Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality lenses, wearables and headphones. We are in the Connected Now and the wider market shows no signs of slowing down its growth.

Other notable highlights include a huge increase in the second-hand device market as customers take advantage of the burgeoning SIM Only market. French company Remade had one of the larger stands to showcase their “better than refurbished” devices. They only sell Apple devices and have managed to optimise their processes in order to sell them at a lower price. Whilst this is not necessarily new, they have also created processes to create colours for the iPhone 6 and 7 that look like they have been done by the original manufacturer.

Mobile World Congress is no longer just about mobile phones and telecommunications; it is a hotbed of trends that any cutting-edge technology company can (and does) use to showcase their products and services. 5G is guaranteed to happened, but monitoring the other trends over time will be fascinating. Watch this space…