GMIC Beijing 2013: Mobile Highlights in China [Photo Blog]

GMIC (Global Mobile Internet Conference) 2013 Beijing is the biggest mobile show in China to get the pulse of the industry and see up-and-coming trends. In its fifth year, the event held at Beijing Olympic Park last week was estimated to have over 16,000 attendees (almost double last year) with many from overseas. All the biggest players in the industry have booths here, as well as hundreds of mobile-related start-ups.  There were eight stages and over 220 speakers, so there’s really no way to sit in all the sessions. Even at the end of the second day most sessions were full. That speaks to the quality of the content and the high interest from the audience in the mobile space.

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I spent two full days at the event and here are some key learnings from the speaker sessions and talking to industry insiders. (Thanks Terry, Mark, Steve, Ted, William, and Sidney for your insights.)

China is going smartphone crazy. One million new activations a day, mostly Android. China also represents one-third of all smartphones worldwide.

2D barcode acceptance has finally arrived. This is made possible by WeChat. At the event, 2D barcodes were plastered everywhere and on everyone.

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Mobile games are starting to mature with GMIC starting to look like ChinaJoy.

Wearable devices are going to be the next big thing. I played a little with Google Glass and was mobbed. I must say it will change the way we interact with computers and with each other.

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Mobile integration into cars will become seamless very soon. Ford and BMW both showed some nice solutions and cars like Tesla were built from the ground to be connected.

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Rumors of WeChat’s intentions to charge subscribers seems untrue verified by Tencent CEO Pony Ma.

Weibo relevance was waning quickly. There were no more simulcasts for the sessions and no participants asking for Weibo IDs.

RenRen feels dead. No presence at the show and no longer topical.

UCWeb and WeChat could become major players in app distribution in the near future.

Traditional businesses are getting into mobile with many speakers seeking relevance and exploring opportunity.

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O2O (online to offline) was a hot topic, enabled by the ability for mobile solutions to take users offline and transact at retail locations.

“Big data” continues to be a hot topic and mobile makes it more important as smartphones collect and create so much data. Total Internet data doubles every 12-18 months, mostly due to mobile devices.

The mobile show is now attracting celebrities, not just geeks. Shaquille O’Neal and Jet Li made cameo appearances at the event. The mobile industry is no longer something high-tech and mysterious.

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