Mobile will save the world from recession - maybe

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It was inevitable that someone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week would float the notion that mobile communications is set to save the world from the evils of recession. The announcement, when it came, was direct from the GSMA and early in the news cycle suggesting that the mobile industry sees its role as one of helping enterprises accelerate out of recession.

The GSMA reckons that release of new spectrum for mobile broadband services this year will ultimately add the equivalent of US$211bn to China's GDP and approximately US$95bn to India's. In addition, GSMA director of media and entertainment, Henry Stevens said that he thinks mobile advertising can now position itself as the driver of a wider advertising recovery towards the end of the year. It's an interesting concept to view mobile services as a means by which organizations can position themselves for recovery and it's almost as if the mobile industry thinks the recession presents an opportunity for enterprises to organize themselves technologically for recovery. It's going too far to say mobile is going to save the world from recession but there is limited mileage in assuming that a quiet time for businesses means they can make long range decisions about the shape of their business after the recession - and mobile will have a role in that. 
Those prospects aside, MWC wasn't all plain sailing for the mobile crew, with some notable absentees at the event and many exhibitors bracing for a tough year. Apple, in common with previous years, stayed away and the GSMA has reported a small dip in visitor numbers on last year. All of this doesn't quite add up to saving the world but, as the GSMA points out, the mobile industry hasn't been circulating the corridors of government with its begging bowl seeking hand-outs to sure up the industry. There's a lot more health and wealth here than in other sectors.
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.