By now, we have all seen that photo of Mark Zuckerberg striding among the Virtual Reality masses at Mobile World Congress 2016. It’s an iconic moment that encapsulates just how quickly the mobile landscape is transforming our lives.
So if you’re a tech nerd like us, then this week’s MWC2016 was the place to be. But you already knew that. This, however, was the year that the world’s biggest smartphone expo drove home just how much mobile has expanded into every corner of our lives.
MWC2014 saw the launch of the EU Partnership for 5G research. 5G featured prominently at MWC2015 but this year it felt like we were sowing the seeds for an accelerated mobile future. Pay attention, as 5G is sure to bring some dramatic changes in the coming years.
As in past years at Mobile World Congress, most of the major players revealed the latest and greatest versions of mobile devices in a dramatic fashion (except for our friends in Cupertino). One number that was trotted out repeatedly was that your average mobile user will use his/her phone 150 times a day. And after seeing the next iteration of smartphones, it’s guaranteed that frequency will only go up. Samsung and LG stole the show with their respective flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S7 and LG’s G5. LG revealed a complete rethink of what a smartphone could be by introducing a modular concept which allows users to connect different “Friends” modules through an accessory port. Meanwhile, Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge took everything people loved about S6, beefed up the power, added a microSD card slot and waterproofed it as thoroughly as a yellow rubber duckie.
And with Oppo introducing batteries that can charge from 0 to 100% in 15 minutes, we could see serious advantages emerge for mobile versus a traditional laptop setup.
But we learned all of this from the news and obsessively scrolling through the #MWC16 Twitter feed. Let’s talk to someone who was actually there, watching it all unfold. Here are key MWC take-aways and insights from our very own Shawn Sieck, Vice President of Sales for Intellectsoft:
Q: What was the most creative booth display or event setup you saw at MWC2016?
SHAWN SIECK: Huawei. I counted four separate booths so they had quite a presence there. And in case you needed further proof of the widening focus of MWC beyond the confines of smartphones, they announced a new partnership with Leica and the 2-in-1 Windows 10 business computer dubbed MateBook (think Surface Pro 4).
Q: What emerging trend will affect consumers’ daily lives in the near future?
SHAWN SIECK: People are using video share increasingly more. Video streaming and 360 video have become much more accessible, so we will see the sector move first to 4.5G (LTE-Advanced Pro) and then towards 5G. Consumers have come to expect live-streaming capabilities and it’s only growing with Periscope, Meerkat, and others. And now Facebook just announced that it’s bringing Facebook Live to Android, thereby flinging the doors open for hundreds of millions of Facebook users to stream live music performances and real-time video blogs. The infrastructure as it stands can’t keep up with that and when you add the exploding IoT market into the picture, all those devices and objects simply won’t be able to connect sufficiently without 5G. It will be interesting to watch this unfold.
Q: What was the most startling or impressive statistic you saw this week?
SHAWN SIECK: One amazing statistic regarding the average mobile e-commerce conversion was that less than four percent of people are converting. This market is saturated with companies claiming to have the answers to conversions and mobile marketing but only a handful of companies have the deep linking issues solved. Deep link marketing engagement is the answer as it takes customers directly to the point of conversion — taking you to a specific area within the app itself instead of simply loading the app. It is always easier to shop inside an app – and always preferable to be taken directly to the product.
Q: Wearables were another trending topic at this year’s MWC. What were your takeaways?
SHAWN SIECK: We have seen a lot of wearable clothing but the future will hinge on whether manufacturers can make this affordable for consumers. Liveathos introduced a range of athletic wear. Other examples include the OMsignal smartbra and of course Fossil and Fitbit trackers. This category is picking up steam and people are definitely excited about how this can enhance their daily lives. But it is still a bit of a mess, frankly. Some of these items have to be unsnapped from your clothes before cleaning and there may be wires and other annoyances. But we will see a major societal impact once someone troubleshoots these problems and offers these products at a more attractive price point.
Q: What was the most ambitious “moonshot idea” you saw or heard?
SHAWN SIECK: Facebook provided an update on the Aquila solar-powered drones that will distribute internet connectivity in Africa. Zuckerberg had announced this last summer but it seems close to completion and it’s a very exciting project.