Having visited Mobile World Congress a few times before in sunny Barcelona, it occurred to us that this year’s congress lacked a theme; perhaps the event’s title, 'What's Next?', is a clue that not even the industry leaders fully understand what might be around the corner. It was clear from the size of this year’s event (which was the world’s largest mobile conference), that while there are lots of technological innovations available we are only just beginning to explore their possibilities and see which ideas become 'industry standard' and are embraced by the consumer.
One trend throughout the show was the numerous variations on SmartHome solutions. Qualcomm were the most impressive, showcasing their open source AllJoyn technology. This offers all manufacturers the possibility to integrate mobile controlled GUI, without needing to commit to a single closed solution, like Sonos. Visitors could walk around a virtual home and experience the potential of this technology: everything, including lights, smoke alarms, doors, tv, hi-fi, and even an interactive teddy, worked seamlessly together throughout the home.
Another example was security. Samsung, Sony, and LG, were all pushing their phone security, some even with their own sub-brand. As more and more of your personal data is stored on your device, service providers need to convince us, their customers, that our data is controlled, or at least safe. Samsung's Lock solution seemed impressive, but we have yet to see how it works in the real world.
Blackphone took it a stage further, by showcasing an alternative secure mobile device, allowing the user total control over what is available to whom. The amount of different solutions highlighted the fact that there is no benchmark solution yet.
Wearables were not as dominant as we thought they might be at this year’s event; again, maybe this is too soon and manufacturers are waiting to see 'What's next?' before making such a big commitment. Fitness straps and watches were present as you would expect. Sony's band was impressive and complemented the new Xperia Z2 nicely. If I were not so attached to my iPhone that would definitely be at the top of my wish list!
One of the most impressive things on show was a real-time ID camera reader. As I walked past the camera, it quickly identified my profile. This is the same technology that Tesco recently announced for their Metro stores. It might need a little work as it displayed my status as angry, but maybe that's just because they had identified me so quickly. The profile made me smile, which then meant my status was quickly updated to happy.
Some of the more fun parts of the four-day show included the graffiti wall by Philip Stanton, all the interactive stuff in network city, and a never-to-forget experience of dancing with a group of pimped Android robots on the Intel stand. Hilarious! It was the busiest stand by far.
So how does all this help guide us with marketing and design? At the heart, all these solutions are user-focused, much like how we work at Kolab. The experience needs to talk to the user, tailor the offering, build their trust and create loyalty. Only use what will work for your customer/client: do not throw everything at it. You will only achieve good and effective user experiences through intelligent research, insight and knowledge.
As for me, I can't wait for next year’s event!
Mobile World Congress 2015
2 - 5 March | Barcelona