Mobile World Congress takes place in Barcelona and it’s where the world’s major technology manufacturers (minus Apple) gather to make their big announcements.
IPhone sales are slowing and the major western markets have reached a point of market saturation with limited room for growth. Consumers are increasingly tough to impress and have sky high expectations when it comes to device features, capabilities and price. In order to innovate and differentiate, manufacturers are now looking beyond the smartphone.
With that in mind here were some big themes from day one of this year’s congress:
VR is now mainstream
Major players now see VR as the heart of their their new ecosystems
In conjunction with their new flagship S7 device, Samsung also announced a new 360-degree camera, the Gear 360 and accompanying stitching software. Samsung now enables users to shoot, edit, watch (on the Gear VR headset) and share (Facebook) or even live-stream (Youtube) VR content all within their own ecosystem (watch out Apple!)
LG have also picked up on this theme. At the same time as launching their flagship, the G5 – which incidentally has some very cool modular features – the Korean giant also launched LG Freinds, an ecosystem of gadgets that the G5 can detect when nearby.
360 VR is a slim, lightweight VR headset that unlike the Gear VR, uses a standalone device rather than the screen of the phone itself. It pairs with the device via a USB C connector. To capture content, LG showed off two new cameras, the portable 360 cam uses two wide-angle sensors to capture a full 360° of content while the Rolling Bot is pitched as a proxy security system that can patrol your home when you’re not there and keep your pets entertained.
Rounding out the list HTC announced the release of the long-awaited Oculus rival – the Vive. Priced at $799 USD and available to pre-order from February 29th, the Vive is definitely pitched at the premium end of the gaming market.
Another departure is that everything on the Vive will have an open API which HTC hope will encourage a community of developers to come up with new and innovative uses for the hardware. This has important implications beyond the initial target of gaming and could prove very interesting in the training and education space.
The Connected Car Gathers Pace
Vendors seeing the opportunity in making “dumb” cars smart
Samsung came out with a blockbuster announcement in the connected car space. Although OBD devices have been mainstream for a few years now (Automatic, Vinly), they have been fairly boring in terms of what they can do. Samsung hope to change that with the launch of Samsung Connect Auto. In addition to the standard check-engine light functionality offered by current devices, Samsung’s device creates a wifi hotspot in the vehicle and has ambitions to gamify things safe driving.
Most interestingly Samsung have formed a partnership with AAXA to being to offer pay as you drive insurance, a relationship that was cemented with Samsung’s ability to deliver encryption via its Samsung KNOX platform. Security is an obvious hurdle to overcome in the wake of the jeep hacking scandal
The other interesting announcement came from of all unlikely sources, Volvo who will begin selling keyless cars in 2017. This will be enabled by a Volvo app which will act as a Bluetooth “digital key” and will do everything physical keys do, including locking and unlocking doors and starting the engine.
Beyond the obvious gain for Volvo in selling more new cars, this concept opens up some interesting possibilities in the car sharing space. For example, digital keys could be instantly shared by the car owner with family or friends or set up as a permanent ride-sharing platform with one-time limited window access.
As you can see there was some pretty exciting announcements made, validating some of the key emerging we have been talking about.
How do you see VR impacting your industry? Will connected car be a disruptive driving force or a major threat to your business? Do you think that these trends are fads? Would love to hear your thoughts.
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