From Humanity to Virtual Reality: Tech Themes from MWC2016

The Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona is one of the most anticipated exhibitions for global technology leaders. Many releases are announced during the show and many organizations take the opportunity to launch new brand propositions. The exhibition is also a wonderful venue for analyzing where the industry is going. We identified four prevailing themes during this year’s MWC:

SIMPLICITY

The market is facing more and more offers and services. To stand out, offering niche services is key. Brands that focus on specialized targets can learn from accurate insights to simplify their offerings and service design. Simplicity is a strong asset, one which can differentiate a brand at a time when people complain about the speed of technology—which is for some of us seems quicker than the speed of our lives. Ruckus, Sophos, and Appaloosa are examples of brands offering targeted solutions that simplify the user’s experience.

HUMANITY 

During the exhibition, we noticed brand leaders trying to contrast their “techy” positioning by creating cozy and homey atmospheres. Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, and many others built sort of loft spaces to welcome their visitors. Hosts and hostesses were friendly and wore casual clothes (Huawei is a prime example). This sense of conviviality and spontaneity is the new goal for brand leaders. The user-benefits are apparent: It’s no longer just about productivity; it is about collaboration, ease of life, and inclusion. For designers, this means focusing on tutorials, User Experience (UX) design, and constant iteration to create the best and simplest experiences possible. While you may enjoy the complex journey of your IKEA purchase, you hate when your technology is too complicated. There is a feeling of reward triggered when you interact with technology that’s humanly designed.

VIRTUAL REALITY

We know…you feel a bit silly when you’re wearing a VR helmet…but we can tell you that virtual reality is not a trend—it is a sustainable innovation, much like 3D printing. VR will be everywhere because it opens the way to promising new business opportunities by enriching standard offers. In a few years, VR could replace supermarket experiences, driving and history lessons, and psychiatric appointments.

At MWC, VR was everywhere—and simple to use. In a finite world, where the planet shows its resources limit, virtual reality allows us to create spaces and experiences for an increasing population. The new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones from Samsung, for example, will come with a free Gear VR offer for early buyers. VR is more than a trend, it’s a viable technology that could expand as wide as the smartphone market.

One potential social limit to VR is that the imagined spaces will be created by content providers and not by our own brains. Is this a sustainable promise for people? How do you tap into the collective imagination to co-create the content of your VR display? This is the challenge for brands pushing the limits of virtual reality.

DEVICE – FREE

Sensors will replace devices: We won’t need two mobile phones, one tablet, and a computer to manage our online behaviors. Sensors will be spread on us (clothes, skin) and in our spaces to respond to shifts, signals, questions, desires, and deliver what we want. Say, for instance, that you are in the shower and you realize that you’re running out of shampoo. A sensor notices this and your mirror shows your favorite shampoo, available in the closest shop. You validate the choice and the purchase with your fingerprint and a courier delivers the product. This kind of connections is fluid and constant. Thus, it becomes ridiculous to speak about “digital” as something separate from analog life, because it turns out that web is omniscient, and connecting to it is like breathing air.

To round out our forecast on the future of mobile technology, here are some of the most interesting brands we took note of at MCW:

https://avegant.com/

http://www.billymob.com/

http://www.appnext.com/

https://www.applidium.com/

https://www.appannie.com/

 

And some exciting new brands to watch from France:

https://www.onoff.fr/

http://tellmeplus.com/accueil.html

Contributors

Brand Strategy Consultant