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Mobile World Congress headed for US, reflecting growth of mega events

Two of the mobile industry?s largest trade associations, GSMA and CTIA, are pooling their resources to create a new large-scale conference highlighting the United States mobile industry and its impact around the world. 

The new event, which is scheduled for the fall of 2017 in San Francisco, creates a U.S. outpost for the GSMA?s flagship Mobile World Congress, which takes place annually in Barcelona. The news reflects how some conferences, such as Mobile World Congress, are becoming mega events while mid-size trade shows struggle. 

?Mobile has changed how people around the world work, live and play, and it?s now transforming entire industries, from automotive to healthcare to utilities and beyond,? said Beth Morrissey, senior director of marketing at GSMA. ?Accordingly, events such as those currently produced by the GSMA and CTIA reflect this expanded and central role of mobile and demonstrate the impact of mobile in people?s everyday lives. 

?Mobile World Congress Americas will feature the latest mobile technologies, products and services, but will also highlight developments in the Internet of Things, as well as the intersection of mobile with entertainment, content and media,? she said. 

Conferences face challenges?
The new event ?s official moniker is GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas, in partnership with CTIA. It will debut Sept. 12-14, 2017, in San Francisco. 

GSMA and CTIA are equal partners in the joint event, with GSMA leading the event?s production and management. 

The CTIA?s own annual Super Mobility event will be held this Sept. 7-9 in Las Vegas but then will be replaced with the new event starting in 2017. 

The new partnership comes at a time when many conference organizers are facing challenges attracting attendees.

?As of late, conference organizers have faced many challenges,? said Michael J. Becker, managing partner at mCordis. ?Like many media properties owners whose audience has been fragmented due to the digitization of content, conference organizers are finding it increasingly difficult to rise above the noise and attract a critical mass of attendees to ensure event viability and participant satisfaction.  

?Events are becoming polarized to the edges, a few large branded mega events like The Consumer Electronics Show and the Mobile World Congress are seeing growth, mid range events are struggling to survive, and smaller, boutique, topic specific events that come to people rather than making people come to them are growing in popularity,? he said. 

?On this later point, this is due to information overload, event fatigue and the increasing on-demand, consumerization, of the B2B experience. B2B players now want the service to come to them, on-demand, rather than them having to search it out.?

Global impact
Given the strength of the mobile industry in the U.S., GSMA sees an opportunity to put a spotlight on the innovation taking place here, building on CTIA?s focus on policy-related educational sessions. The North American mobile industry is leading innovation in hardware, access technologies, operating systems as well as apps and services. 

The new event will take a look at mobile?s impact around the world and highlight innovation such as 5G and the Internet of Things. It will include a conference featuring C-level speakers and leading industry experts; an exhibition showcasing the latest mobile technologies, products and services; a regulatory and public policy program; partner events, and free seminars. 

There will be three key areas of focus: core mobile technologies, consumer and industrial applications of IoT, and the intersection of mobile with entertainment, content and media. 

GSMA and CTIA are expecting the first Mobile World Congress Americas to attract 30,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors. 

?Mobile World Congress in a brand mainstay event that supports the premise put forth by Thomas Friedman that the world is flat,? Mr. Becker said. ?Mobile technology is transforming every industry, everywhere.  

?Deployed properly, mobile helps a business achieve global reach while being locally relevant, increasingly to the individual,? he said. ?The GSMA has proven time and time again that it can evolve to meet the needs of the modern conference attendee, including with its recent announcement of forming the Mobile World Congress Americas.?