Mobile World Congress Wraps Up In Barcelona
Today is the last day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an annual event that attracts 110,000 visitors from around the world. The four-day long conference is arguably the world's biggest showcase for wireless technology and mobile devices and a highlight on the tech industry’s annual calendar.
Wait, do I need a new phone?
There was a time when the big announcements at the show were all handset launch focused. In recent years, Samsung has stolen the show on press day – which is typically the day before the show starts. Remember this now iconic image of Mark Zuckerberg? It was captured as he walked through a dystopian-looking room of journalists at Samsung’s press event, all wearing Oculus Rift VR headsets.
This year Samsung’s event was much different with little to no device news. The word is that the company’s Galaxy Note recall meant the company delayed the launch of the Galaxy G8, instead teasing the hotly-anticipated (and since leaked) launch and tying it to an event on March 29th in New York. Other mobile handset news of note was the re-launch of the beloved retro Nokia 3310; the Huawei P10 smartphone with a smart selfie camera by Leica; TCL’s new Blackberry device, the Android KEYOne, a touch screen with the traditional QWERTY keyboard; and LG’s G6, a sleek new handset that boasts an edge-to-edge display.
Mobile World Congress is about more than mobile
The show has become so much more than just the handset news. 2017 gave a clear view into a world today where technology has permeated everything and continues to get stronger, better, faster to give consumers the connectivity they demand, safely and on the devices tailored to their lifestyles and specific needs. The event’s 3,000 exhibitors are more focused on long-term future developments and less focused on showcasing awesome devices.
5G becomes a reality
5G has been discussed conceptually at Mobile World Congress for many years now but this year marked a fundamental shift with network providers and component manufacturers demonstrating readiness for its slated launch in 2020. To understand it some more, if the current 4G networks are about connecting people, 5G is about connecting things. We are going to need the power that 5G brings with all the connected devices around us; the tech on show marked a fundamental shift in network speeds, power and capacity. Expect to be able to connect upwards of 50 devices to your wireless network in the near future.
The evolving interface of technology
Consumers have spent the last few years heads down in our devices; that is all changing with the evolution of the interfaces we use. Fully immersive VR experiences now feature multi-sensory layers, such as KT Telecom’s 360 Adaptive VR Live Streaming Platform. This was on show in readiness for the Korean Winter Olympics 2018 to transport visitors on a full tour of Korea, roller coaster style. Sensors embedded in responsive billboards at Telefonica allowed an installation to react in real time to human movement; IBM Watson’s intelligent analytics was layered into almost everything from cycling team bikes to designer dresses, bringing human sentiment and AI-powered data analytics to the fore of many products and partnerships. Voice powered devices continued to dominate - Google announced Android users will soon be able to use Google Assistant on devices, including the aforementioned LG G6. Like other voice interfaces, Google Assistant is designed to help users access information from their phones via voice commands. Bye bye screen neck.
Being human first in a digital world
McCann’s event at the show was a morning of TED-style talks and inspirational sessions, followed by curated tours of the show floor and workshops with clients and partners. The event comprised insightful speakers focused on the intersection between brands, humans and technology today. As brand marketers we must focus on those moments of artful surprise rather than jumping on the latest bright shiny object or tech launch. By offering seamless assistance, transcendent value and artful surprise, marketers can indeed remain human first in a digital world.
The team is distilling all that we saw into a comprehensive guide of trends, news and happenings to share with teams, clients and partners. Watch this space for more to come from Barcelona!