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Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Phones—Three Key Takeaways from MWC 2015, Where Mobile Went Way Beyond Just Phones

There aren’t many events in the world that can say more than 93,000 people traveled thousands of miles from 200 different countries to attend. The ones that make it into this upper-echelon of gatherings must be full of entertainment, intrigue, plenty of SWAG and more pseudo-celebrities than an episode of the Kardashians.

So, are we talking about The World Cup, the Olympics, or possibly even the Academy Awards? No, not today.

Today we’ll be discussing an event that’s a bigger deal than all of those listed above for companies like Samsung, Intel, Target, AT&T, Huawei and MasterCard: Mobile World Congress (MWC).

A visit to the MWC website offers a quick snapshot of the 2015 show, which took place for the tenth year in a row in Barcelona.

MWC blog image

MSLGROUP San Francisco was on the ground this year with Tizen, an open source operating system created for the connected device ecosystem. Nothing gives legs to a tradeshow long after the booths have been broken down quite like a survey, and we conducted one of more than 300 attendees to identify major trends at the show. Along with trends, the data allows us to put our two cents in on how the results impact PR and communications strategies.

Some high level takeaways:

1. Reaching Multiple Audiences:

Approximately 45% of attendees we surveyed were application and/or software developers. This had quite a bit to do with our location in the football-fields-long expo halls, but it points to a larger theme: MWC attracts a wide variety of attendees, from c-level executives and technology leaders to device manufacturers and “Average Joe” developers.

Your company messaging at the show should include elements that are attractive to all the different stakeholder audiences you are trying to reach. If it’s developers, make sure you have resources who can help explain the value proposition of your offering or platform. Additionally, creating collateral or working with partners to stump on your behalf meshes nicely with your MWC messaging and amplifies it.

If it’s investors you’re after, have company representatives who can discuss the viability of your business model. If it’s consumers, have physical gadgets and products available for them to touch and feel.

Identifying and tailoring to specific audiences should apply to any new product campaign or communications strategy, but focusing on delivering the resources on the ground is key for MWC.

2. It’s the Usability, Stupid:

Our survey found that 65% of respondents valued usability over any other feature in selecting a mobile device. We also found that the operating system on a device was important to 66% of respondents.

What larger trends does this point to?

For starters, ease of use will continue to be king. Whether you’re a developer, an OEM or a carrier, differentiating yourself through usability and eliminating consumer hurdles must be a priority.

Cross platform development will also grow in importance, as users should have an easy time using your products, regardless of which OS they prefer.

3. Internet of Things Expansion Means More Devices and More Opportunities

In a pre-MWC blog post, my colleague Sam Katzen predicted that IoT would be all over the place at this year’s show, and it turns out he was right. Not only were companies exhibiting an unprecedented array of connected devices, like TVs, thermostats, watches, cars and refrigerators, but attendees were acutely aware that smart gadgets have started to infiltrate every aspect of their lives.

Nearly half of respondents to our survey said cross-device communication is very important to them, and the same number said they expect to be using three to five Internet-connected devices aside from their smartphone in the next two years.

Now that the industry and, in large part, consumers are on board with the whole IoT thing, there are seemingly endless opportunities for companies to build new devices, software, apps, platforms and accessories.

Companies must do the heavy lifting of taking aspirational tech and turning it mainstream, but that process starts with discussing the opportunity and more importantly, the need.

From a future MWC perspective, this takeaway is pretty simple: bring your latest and greatest, most futuristic technology and illustrate why consumers and businesses need it. After all, at an event that calls itself “The Edge of Innovation,” that’s what everyone is there to see.

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