Tag: LG

From bendy phones to 5G, why next week’s Mobile World Congress matters to global media

OMD EMEA’s Head of Mobile, Alex Newman outlines the key trends to expect at this year’s Mobile World Congress, and what they mean for the marketing and media industry.


Next week, just under 100,000 people will travel to Barcelona to celebrate a birthday. From Mark Zuckerberg to Lewis Hamilton, the who’s who of the ever-expanding mobile and tech world will descend upon the Fira Gran Via for the 30th Mobile World Congress (MWC).

For those of you who have never been, just picture the biggest exhibition you’ve ever encountered – around eight full-sized football pitches – of the world’s leading technology companies (except for one notable exception) showing off their latest hardware and software innovations.

“I always travel to Barcelona filled with a sense of excitement to see at first hand the progress being made within the industry I love”

This year’s theme? ‘Mobile is Everything’, which of course is something I’ve preached for a long time.

For me the theme is simply an acknowledgement that mobile connectivity is finally beginning to seep into all aspects of everyday life, and really is opening up a plethora of new opportunity. Whilst I’m yet to ascertain if I’ll be over or underwhelmed or by what’s in-store, as an MWC pilgrim I always travel to Barcelona filled with a sense of excitement to see at first hand the progress being made within the industry I love.

The trends you will see spoken about at this year’s event will closely mirror those of 2015.


Every MWC is characterised by numerous new launches with most major handset manufacturers having something new to shout about.

The rumour mill is already spinning with indications that Samsung, LG, Sony, Microsoft and HTC are all tipped to be unveiling something new. Expect to see bendy and foldable phones, new types of battery technology, handsets that emit less heat. We will also see a growing number of Chinese manufacturers offering significantly but sophisticated handsets.



Portable virtual reality headsets are set to be a major focus at this year’s MWC with new unveilings being unveiled by the Facebooks Oculus Rift partnership, new updates of the HTC Verve platform, and the new IOS update from Google facilitating a further push into the VR Space.

Interestingly from Google, it is all about the software as opposed to the hardware-based approach from others.  The point is manufacturers are pushing each other to develop better and cheaper platforms, making device ownership a reality for consumers.


5G is set to be THE theme of MWC 2016, as operators begin to get their hands around best ways to roll out this new technology.

Frankly, we as consumers need this planning, as the need for 5G services is already growing, and we need the roll out to be smoother and quicker than was the case with 4G, a bit like the service itself!

Internet chatter is already pointing out the potentially game changing implications this could have for industry as mobile consumers are able to access heavy data files at almost instantaneous speeds. This is seen as being a major ingredient that finally brings the internet of things to life. We can expect a few demonstrations of how the technology could be used to be on show at this year’s event.


This year’s MWC tagline ‘Mobile is everything’ seems to lend itself directly to the Internet of Things (IOT). At previous years shows we have seen dedicated pavilions set up to demonstrate how the IOT will come to life, in terms of how technology can integrate with everyday tasks. This year will be no different, and there promises to be plenty of manufacturers demonstrating how connectivity will play a role within their previously unconnected products.

Expect to see connected toothbrushes that talk to bathroom mirrors to tell you about oral health; washing machines that talk to your mobile app shopping list; toilets that talk to your health tracker to analyse your food and drink intake.


Driverless car technology has invaded MWC over the previous two years, and with the number of auto manufacturers exhibiting at the 2016 event increasing, I can only see a greater emphasis on this area.

When connected cars were first discussed, the conversation centred on the work Google and Apple were doing and the potential for disruption this offered. Since then, manufacturers have been keen to take back ownership of this area, and with Ford, Volvo, Jaguar and Toyota all rumoured to be unveiling their work at this show.

It is no secret that auto manufacturers see connected cars as offering them the possibility to generate a new influx of consumer money, so the race to launch the best products in this area is well and truly on.



At first glance the apparent lack of anything new seems to be disappointing, but when you take a closer look actually the reverse is true.

It is not that the technology is not evolving, it is that the development is no longer focused on the breaking of new ground, but instead upon bringing these lofty concepts to fruition. That means taking a concept such as wearable technology and ensuring it works seamlessly and has a useful application within the real world, as well as ensuring cost of ownership makes it attainable at scale.

In my opinion these are the lenses that both device manufacturers and new technology developers need to apply to the products they launch. When these basic requirements are fulfilled we see the advent of new and exciting products and services that change the world – and at that point technology really does become exciting for both brands and consumers.

“These companies are the new giants of the global economy, and their success is down to the smartphone”

Since 2007 the smartphone has provided a platform that enabled new types of business to come into existence, and furthermore allowed them to grow their user-base rapidly. We have all marveled at services such as Uber, Airbnb, Hotels.com, and Amazon amongst many others.

They all have one thing in common: they identified a natural consumer behaviour and understood how they could use connected technology to simplify that behaviour, and then launched highly successful business upon the back of that insight. These companies are the new giants of the global economy, and their success is down to the smartphone.


When you look at it, what is a smartphone? It is just a bunch of sensors that enables us to connect with our surroundings in new ways. The trends we will see highlighted at MWC 2016 such as the Internet of Things, 5G and wearables are simply a manifestation of these same sensors moving from only existing within the smartphone to being embedded within any number of previously unconnected devices.

But why is that interesting? In the same way that the smartphone gave birth to new businesses, new monetisation models, and new ways to engage consumers, wider connectivity will provide a more exciting platform for new companies to launch products and services that have not been imagined yet.

We have already seen evidence of that in the developments being made within the health industry based upon wearable devices, and the travel and luxury industries based upon virtual reality. I travel to MWC more out of excitement than anything – I want to understand the progress that is being made in putting together the essential building blocks that will enable a whole new layer of business and marketing opportunities.

Although the themes coming out of this year’s event will not change from the usual, I am hopeful the developments unveiled there will provide proof that progress is being made, and these lofty concepts we have all heard about are becoming attainable.

Most of all, I hope to leave MWC feeling inspired, armed with new ideas of products and marketing services that represent significant opportunities for my clients, that although we may have theorised about previously, are now possible! So come on MWC, don’t let me down. Here’s to another great week in Barcelona – hope to see you there!


A perspective from CES 2016 through the lens of luxury

The luxury and technology sectors have traditionally viewed each other from afar. Luxury has gained its value from scarcity whereas technology generates more value when it is widely used. Over recent years, this distance has begun to shrink as technology has become ubiquitous. Just like every other sector, Luxury has been impacted by new technology and this year’s CES saw this trend continue. We at OMD have identified four mechanisms by which luxury and technology are becoming ever more intertwined.

Luxury – the new technology niche where style is a differentiator

Nokia spotted the niche of high-end luxury in consumer electronics with the introduction of the Vertu brand in 1998 while last year Apple accelerated this sector with the launch of the Apple Watch Edition, made from the highest quality materials.

HuaweiA wider range of brands joined this trend at CES, focusing on not just the technical function of their product but also the luxurious design. One example is Huawei which has launched a line of watches embedded with Swarovski crystals.  As technology becomes ever-present, growth will come from better servicing specific niches, some of which are happy to pay a significant premium for exclusivity.


To gain credibility in this space, technology brands are choosing to partner with luxury and fashion brands. Intel, for example, partnered with Chromat for a new engineered sports bra. We can expect to see many more partnerships between technology brands and brands from the fashion, style and luxury sectors at future CES events.

Luxury brands upgrading with technology

SwarovskiThe other side of the coin is embedding technology in luxury products. A number of fashion and luxury brands appeared at CES this year, building on a small but growing, presence. Swarovski returned to CES with Get Fit In Style fitness tracking jewellery, a simple sensor embedded in everyday jewellery that reports back to a smartphone app.


Wisewear from Apfel also integrates notifications into smart jewellery. A pre-defined touch will alert another device of problems, such as a fall or a dangerous situation on a night out.

Many connected services gain most value if they are persistent and worn every day. Embedding technology invisibly in products we wear on a regular basis rather than a specialist technology, which may make the wearer feel self-conscious, is a far more effective approach.

Technology as a new luxury

Technology is pushing into new boundaries as the previously impossible becomes achievable, if a little expensive.

LaundroidA number of very high-end technologies appeared at this year’s CES. Laundroid, a laundry folding system, is due to launch in 2017. This device takes clothing direct from the dryer and then folds and displays it neatly. Likewise, the LGStyler is a smart closet that automatically steams and cleans clothes.


ehangDrones were another big theme at CES 2016. At the high-end, ehang showcased the 184, an autonomous vehicle designed to carry people. Whilst there are still many technical and liability hurdles to cross, we may soon see the era of personal aerial transportation in and around cities.



One day some of these technologies will be mass labour- and time-saving devices, but for now they will only appeal to the most exclusive niches. They will drive new levels of expectation and new opportunities for integration and partnership.

Luxury tech experiences

High-end hardware is not the only way to differentiate with technology. Luxury brands are also investing in luxury technology-based experiences and content.

VRVirtual Reality was a huge theme at CES, confidently stepping into the mainstream – for example, Oculus Rift launched its first consumer product alongside devices from Sony, Samsung and Google.  Brands are now creating experiences to showcase products and content in a Virtual Reality environment.  Whirlpool illustrated a vision of a futuristic high end kitchen using VR, whilst Dior has already released a branded headset for VR brand experiences.

VR 2We are at the dawn of an entirely new medium with VR; the very best experiences will require sophisticated technology. Luxury brands have the opportunity to make a powerful statement in this space, especially to showcase luxury real estate, travel and lifestyle.


Key takeaways

Technology continues to pervade our lives and every sector must account for new opportunities and disruptions. Luxury brands are learning to understand how their products and propositions are impacted by the huge range of accelerating technologies displayed at CES. This is achieved not by jumping on the latest technology bandwagon, but instead by refocusing on core brand attributes and understanding how technology can empower those concepts.

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