Mobile World Congress day two: here's what you need to know

Highlights from day two

With most of the major new device announcements already out, day two of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona was a more subdued affair. Here's what you need to catch up on.

Taking to a stage two miles away from the main conference centre at the 4YFN (4 Years From Now) event – the startup hub of MWC – Unilever’s vice president of global marketing made a public commitment to increase the number of female-founded startups the FMCG-company invests in. Right now, just 23% of its investment goes to female-led businesses; by 2023 it wants that to be 50%.

Talking to The Drum, Santos described the gender disparity in the startup community as an “epidemic problem” and said the power of the Unilever brand would be enough to evoke some instant changes to how women in startups are treated.

Elsewhere, MWC-organiser GSMA has aligned 800 carriers behind Rich Communications Services (RCS), the successor to SMS. The likes of Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Bell Canada, China Mobile, T-Mobile US and Google have all signed up to build a fit-for-purpose comms platform that’s capable of sending images and video as well as richer analytics to brands in return.

One brand on board is ITV which has been trialing the tech to bolster engagement. It claimed to have already seen an improvement of between 10% to 20% in message opening rates.

Here's some other stuff you might have missed

  1. Formula 1 has launched its own streaming service, selling directly to consumers for around $8-$12 a month. It will launch in Germany, France, the US, Mexico, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and much of Latin America. A date for a UK roll out has not been set.
  2. Vodafone announced plans to install the moon’s first 4G network. Weeks after Elon Musk stole headlines by shooting a Tesla Roadster into orbit aboard a SpaceX rocket, Vodafone Germany and Nokia are working together to deliver 4G tech fit for space.
  3. Facebook exec Nicola Mendelsohn admitted 2017 has been a “hard year” for the platform. Mendelsohn addressed industry complaints ranging from measurement to brand safety and also talked up Facebook Stories, which despite a bumpy launch apparently now boasts 300m viewers each day.
  4. Amazon rival Rakuten is planning the launch of its own cryptocurrency — Rakuten Coin.The company's chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani described it as a “borderless” currency which has been built using blockchain tech and its existing loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points.
  5. Visa has inked deals with National Bank of Greece and CaixaBank to enable customers to carry out transactions through their jewellery and watches. Brand including Folli Follie and Links of London have been enlisted to create rings and bracelets that will let people make secure payments with a tap at any contactless-enabled terminal.
  6. Alibaba launched several new AI and cloud based products, aimed at taking on the dominance of Amazon and Microsoft in the European market. Though Alibaba's efforts to date have focused on serving Chinese customers, it's bringing its most successful services to European businesses.

This month’s issue of The Drum magazine focuses on the mobile sector with insights on the democratisation of photography and interview with US recording artist Ryan Leslie. Buy your copy of this issue and other copies through The Drum website.

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