If brand marketers were looking for innovation and excitement at Mobile World Congress, they might have been disappointed. This year was all about evolution, and the big reveals at the show reflected that.
Yes, there were iterative improvements in handset performance, but the underlying theme was how mobile is increasingly enmeshed in our lives, at home, in the car and in industry.
Here are five impressions from four days in Barcelona:
It would be foolish, however, to ignore the new launches. There was Sony (a MediaCom client) with its Xperia X2 Premium, the first handset with a 4K display, providing better quality video than most of us have on our living room TV. Sharper handset screens will only encourage us to watch more video on mobile.
The truth is, we’ve had the tools to deliver this for several years, it’s just that it costs brands more to indemnify themselves from risks like bot fraud and viewability. Too many brands have been willing to knowingly take the risk, and are now trying to blame the ecosystem for this widespread issue.
But the need for reassurance means an open door for many vendors. Security specialist Kaspersky, for example, was at MWC talking to brands about security within apps, as well as the use of biometrics and voice recognition.
Another motor brand, Mercedes Benz, promoted its ability to “Connect you to your car and your car to the world.” Using AI, the German brand’s intelligent in-car assistant makes suggestions based on driver recognition and context. For instance, if it’s raining, or if you use your car on a commute, this Mercedes can make recommendations on route updates or provide alerts that make the driving experience safer. Mobile, it seems, can keep us safe, if we don’t make any calls while driving.
What this year’s show did prove was that venture capitalists are still willing to fund me-too mobile advertising ventures. Too many of the start-ups on the display were simply selling very similar services to existing players.
Like the connected seal — used to monitor the well-being of harbor seals — and last year’s connected cows, this year’s MWC demonstrated that mobile technology is finding an ever-increasing use in areas where remote monitoring or testing at scale is required.
The lack of a breakthrough product at MWC 2017 isn’t a criticism, but is actually a good thing. Without revolutionary products to understand, we now have 12 months during which everyone can focus on getting the current ecosystem working as effectively as possible.
First published in AdAge