By Rori DuBoff, Global Head of Strategy, Havas Media Group
This year at the MWC, manufacturers, telcos and content providers all seemed to share a common goal: to bring technology and Internet access to every corner in the world. Beyond the bigger and better screens, faster processors, and integration of new functionalities in mobile devices, there was a notable shift in focus from high-end devices to less expensive and more accessible technology.
Five key areas of focus for 2014 in the mobile industry:
1. More affordable smartphones
Brands have made it clear that their objective for the next years is to reach the next 1 billion consumers by continuing to eliminate cost barriers between feature phones and smart phones. FirefoxOS presented a smartphone that will be sold for $25 in partnership with the Chinese manufacturer Spreadtrum Communication; LG, winner for “most innovative device manufacturer”, introduced a smartphone to bring 4G to the masses; Nokia presented its first Android-powered phone, and Canonical, developer of Ubuntu, the most mainstream Linux distribution, presented the mobile version of its mobile OS in partnership with Meizu and BQ phones.
2. More ubiquitous connectivity
During his MWC inauguration speech, Mark Zuckerberg communicated his desire to “make Internet access available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected”. That raised the discussion about whether “Over The Top” providers (companies that deliver content through third party networks) should provide significant investment to build the infrastructure. Already we have seen settlements between cable operators, telecommunication companies and content providers in some countries, but the real challenge will be in developing markets, where the investment in high-speed internet connection infrastructure hasn’t event started.
3. More sensors make life smarter
The trend today is around MEMS (Micro ElectroMechanical Sensors), small and inexpensive sensors that can?be placed anywhere (such as a refrigerator, car, or room) to capture data and transfer it back to the consumer’s smartphone display through technologies such as NFC or BLE. Brands seeking to better connect with consumers are focusing on finding ways that sensors can add value, from managing energy usage, tracking movements or monitoring room temperatures.
4. More fashionable, wearable devices
Realizing that consumers don’t necessarily want to look like robots, new players (like Lumus and Weon) are creating augmented reality devices, smart watches, and fitness bands that consumers feel comfortable wearing. The space is growing rapidly as brands recognize that wearable technology is becoming a meaningful part of consumers‘ lifestyles.
5. More awareness around privacy & identity protection?
As consumers become more concerned about safeguarding their personal data, brands are starting to launch products, services and features such as facial detection software and fingerprint and biometric scanners. Blackphone, a carrier and vendor independent device, is allowing users to control their communications by offering them the possibility to encrypt all incoming and outcoming calls, messages and files. We expect to see personal security features become even more prominent and sophisticated going forward.
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For marketers, more people connected to the Internet in more places through more touch points (sensors everywhere), translates into a need for better data management, more micro targeting and more customized ways to deliver meaningful messages and experiences.
View video footage from MWC 2014: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dyLKbZxMNo