October 18, 2018
Tech

Huh? A quick guide to the worst tech jargon at Mobile World Congress

BARCELONA — Do you know what “thinkscribers” are? How about a “techco?”

If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone.

Welcome to the world of corporate tech-speak, which was in rare form at this week’s Mobile World Congress, an annual gathering that attracts more than 100,000 people to the Catalan capital.

I’ve been here glad-handling with the digital great-and-the-good, racking up almost 42 kilometers of walking around a massive conference hall, which has more connected cars, new smartphones and other digital wizardry than you can throw a stick at.

But central to this year’s show was the jargon. So much jargon.

As part of POLITICO’s public service ethos, here’s the low-down on all the ridiculous words, phrases and expressions that litter the tech world so that when confronted with such rubbish, you too can nod your head (like I tried to do this week) in sage wisdom.

Thinkscribers: Without a doubt, the stupidest word I heard this week in Barcelona. The concept is simple: Right now, we’re all subscribers to mobile carriers, paying monthly fees to surf the web, check Facebook and send text messages. But as these cellphone networks get increasingly complicated, the idea is that we’ll become more discerning customers — or “thinkscribers” — willing to jump ship to rival operators at the drop of a hat.

Techco: Everyone wants to be a digital company these days. And telecommunications operators are no different. It’s a lot more fun to be a peer of Facebook, Amazon and Google than it is to rub shoulders with Vodafone, Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom. And so carriers are eagerly ditching the moniker of “telcos” and instead branding themselves as “techcos.” Yes, that sound you hear is my eyes rolling.

‘The Do Zone’: This one is a shout out to Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms giant, which — for some unknown reason — decided to pitch itself this year as helping customers get in the “do zone.” The expression was emblazoned across the company’s massive stand here in Barcelona, yet I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me exactly where this “zone” was located, or how I could find it.

5G mania: You’re going to hear a lot about this term in the coming years. It refers to the next generation of telecoms equipment (we’re currently using 4G — the industry isn’t exactly creative when it comes to terminology), allowing everything from the downloading of movies to smartphones within seconds to powering driverless cars. But my ears pricked up when I heard one MWC speaker (a Nokia executive, if you must know) give what must be the most hyperbolic take on the upcoming tech: “5G has the power to transform human existence.” So no pressure, then.

“For the heart:” Financial types often get a bad rap. When you picture investors, it’s easy to imagine some unscrupulous money-grubbing type looking to maximize returns and reduce costs to a minimum. But one startup investor (I’m not naming her to save her blushes) went a little too far the other way, claiming that she always made her investments “for the heart.” Personally, I always figured people invested in companies “for the money.” But as a mere journalist, maybe I’m missing the bigger picture.

Original Article