“Who turned out the lights?” was the concerned refrain that rang out across the hallowed halls of CES when the electricity decided to pack up in January.
“Where are my long johns?” was the concerned refrain that rang out at Barcelona airport when I arrived from the sun-dappled shores of Australia to the whispers of Storm Emma that stroked MWC this year – I mean seriously…I really did not pack the correct clothing for a Barcelona that saw the first snowflakes since 2010.
The common theme of both CES & MWC 2018 was the unpredictable nature of the weather affecting those people and businesses that just want to change the world. Mother Nature can you pleeeaaassseee just let us get on with it?
I forget about the sheer scale of MWC with its monolithic 8 + halls (with pesky media squeezed into the appendage aptly known as 8.1…I mean whoever wants to be a .1! ) and the extra Fira downtown for all those upcoming disrupters.
At MWC size REALLY does matter
In 2018 technological advances are really about showing scale of brand and product; I’m bigger and better than you, and scale of access, we are solving really BIG problems for everyone in the world.
There are so many businesses here who clearly have inordinately BIG marketing budgets to splurge. Huawei leads the way with their own superhighway – and I mean SUPERHIGHWAY. If you want to showcase your scale then Huawei know how to do it…a quite fascinating feat of technological amazingness that as far as I can see helps me in everything from making a phone call to cleaning my teeth. The problem with a superhighway is that it’s not free, well you don’t have to pay a toll but you need a special invite!
Luckily, I got a toll free invite from the people of Ericsson at their 6000sqm compound of amazingness. I have to say the likes of Jack Morton and other experiential designers do a fabulous job developing these brand palaces to feel intuitive and spacious. They even had a decent free lunch which at MWC is analogous to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack…note to self – next year bring my own sarnies.
AI THE NORM
What baffles me is how in such a short space of time we have all become accustomed to seeing robotics as part of the everyday. Last year a few brands had integrated robots as touchpoints to greet and engage in lite conversation. This year it was more prevalent, and as the mother of all AI projects we are now totally blasé with how even the telcos are also shifting their focus to lucrative foothills of AI.
5G THE MONSTER
I spoke last year about how the telcos were holding their hands up at the lack of talent and innovation they’re driving…well this year the tails are up as they begin the rollout in earnest the 5G monster. Like so many other hot topics at the moment, 5G will be revolutionary not only for the hardware/software benefits it will deliver but for the new business models it will engender.
As with all leaps of innovation the message is – hold….hold….hold….it will be here soon. Everything about 5G is BIG. It’s estimated that in the US alone it will cost $275bn to develop the 5G infrastructure and when we start talking millimetre waves, Massive MIMO and Beamforming – it just sounds like it will be a big cheque the telcos are writing. My rule of thumb is if I don’t understand the lingo it must be expensive, but what else are the telcos gonna do with their money???…buy media companies?
GO BIG OR GO RETRO
Screens are getting…well….you’ve guessed it bigger. There were not many BIG handset releases here apart from the luscious Samsung Galaxy S9, but even they’re holding fire until later in the year when the new release will go head to head in the recycle refresh with the iPhone X.
When everyone has gone BIG Nokia has gone small by bringing back, in true retro style, the banana phone – roll back 1999!!! In fact they should have sold it for €99 as part of their marketing position…yet you can have the yellow design icon for just €79. With no irony, I may just get one as the battery life is redonkulous for festivals and holidays and to my 40+ age group it’s a little cool blip of nostalgia.
THE BIG CHAIN
The other big theme that is one everyone’s to do list in 2018 is blockchain and how it will transform all industries. Whilst I did not see anyone on the main stage talking eloquently, we at the Unlockd castle decided to put on our own panel in the confines of Soho House. We crafted an esteemed panel of legends with the CEO of Codec.ai, Martin Adams, Anoushka Sharma from the Innovation Crew at Lab For Hire, and our very own Jamie Walters – Unlockd’s Programmatic Guru. I have to say as the moderator we got into a stride and had some robust conversation about how and why attention is the new cryptocurrency, and what that means for the entire media industry.
So that’s it for another year of MWC. Next week I’m off to SXSW with my creative brethren to truly play with the tech. Whilst size matters at MWC it’s what you do with it that counts at SXSW…