Another year over for MWC14

hola

Now back from MWC14, Barcelona – bigger, busier, and more buzzing than ever. Every year, everyone thinks ‘can this go on’ but it just seems to grow and grow.

There of course were all the usual gimmicks, lots of toys for the boys, cool cars with the latest in-car technology, TV screen’s with football of the future on SAP’s booth, semi-professional footballers showing off their ball skills on HTC’s stand, Weeble and Womble look-alikes bumbling around, an android or two (of course), but thankfully less scantily glad girls than ever before.

Football

car

So after the manicness of the last few days, what was the actual reality in amongst the hype?

On the first day, Microsoft and Samsung dominated the front page news on the show’s only daily, Mobile World Congress Daily. Microsoft had its nine new partners for its Windows phone platform, while Samsung trumpeted its choice of the Tizen operating system for the latest version of its Gear smartwatch.

Day 2 was all about Facebook defending its acquisition of Whatsapp (unsurprisingly,) along with the shock horror of Whatsapp launching its voice services.

Day 3 was Deutsche Telecom’s CEO calling for regulatory shake up for Europe to reap the full benefits of connectivity and the internet of things and the harmonisation of data protection laws. At the same time Blackberry’s  CEO continued the hard job of rebuilding the brand’s reputation, admitting to past mistakes (not his of course) and the new prime focus on enterprise business and a goal to be back in profit in the next fiscal year.

So these are what made the front page headlines, but what other news was running behind it?

The GSMA announced the need for collaboration to fund $1.7t investment in the global mobile industry to ensure the world had a robust mobile broadband network.

Data was a hot topic. Storage companies like EMC were more evident than before while operators like Vimplecom talked about how operators are gearing up for a data-only world. So the steady transformation of the telco continues apace, going from voice and text only to an ‘enabler’ for apps, particularly the big ones Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram etc.  Mobile operators must re-focus their businesses and quickly to be solely dependent on data, while voice and text now needs to be accepted as free.

The NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance) hosted a press conference to announce their backing of the development of 5G even as the paint dries on the newly sparkling LTE services here in Europe and elsewhere. The alliance has the support of over 22 operators, 33 telecoms vendors and 12 institutions to support this initiative too – so it does look like we will be seeing concrete progress on 5G services sooner than expected.

Wearables, especially those for fitness and sports, were hot topics. In fact Fitbit had permanent queues as people wanted to enter its competition for most fit at show. And, yes, there were lots of Google Glassholes…

Queue for Fitbit

In terms of general vibe, I was surprised by how much the industry still loves Nokia. Yes, Apple and Samsung are the show’s big brands, but the MWC awards Nokia picked up best low cost smart phone – a great award as the industry increasingly looks to the emerging markets for growth.

So another year is over, but I’m sure there will be even more to look forward to for MWC15.

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21 Years Later…

21 years (and six days) after the very first SMS was sent, it seems that the traditional method of mobile communication has been pushed into the background by a wave of internet-based competitors. In its place, apps and over-the-top (OTT) services such as Facebook Messenger, LINE and particularly WhatsApp have thrived. Earlier this year Twitter even announced that it was revamping its messaging platform, reportedly launching a standalone application to rival WhatsApp and Snapchat. And only last week WhatsApp overtook Facebook as the leading mobile messaging service.

It’s safe to say that since that first message wishing Merry Christmas in 1992, mobile communication has changed, and with it, mobile PR. Tablets and smartphones have become items we just can’t be without and there are no longer a simple handful of communication platforms, but rather a myriad of different apps that allow us to interact – whether it be chatting on WhatsApp or sharing photos on Snapchat, receiving message alerts from banking apps or sharing news articles on Pinterest. Let’s face it, the options, and opportunities, are seemingly endless.

And it’s not only consumers who are embracing these opportunities. At first glance, modern mobile communication may seem consumer focused, however, as more and more mobile communication platforms emerge, we’re seeing more and more opportunities for B2B clients. We’re constantly connected whether we’re in or out of the office and these new and emerging channels offer businesses the perfect chance to engage with business partners and interact with customers on a more personal level than ever before.

For example, one such player, Pinterest, seems like a purely consumer platform, perfect for B2C companies to promote their products. That being said, B2B PRs can also encourage clients to also use the platform as an opportunity to improve brand awareness by sharing presentations, infographics, white papers and articles. And what’s more, earlier this year Pinterest made it possible for users to pin articles, to share more information such as headlines, authors, story descriptions and links with their fellow pinners to encourage media to use the platform.

So, as more applications pop up and older platforms adapt themselves to the business world, 2014 can only bring with it more opportunities for both PRs and businesses to embrace mobile communications. I wonder what next year holds…

Mobileapps

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Mobile PR – is the App more important than the website?

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When Apple celebrated five years of the App store, a host of interesting statistics were unveiled. From average number of downloads per person, to time spent engaging with social networks through mobile, to the amount of apps downloaded to date (50 billion for iOS alone), it would seem the app bubble shows no sign of bursting soon.

This is particularly true of  social media apps. Mashable recently reported that Facebook has achieved a 51% spike in mobile users. That’s a staggering 819 million unique users logging in via mobile every month. And they’re spending longer on those apps too. A report in the Sun reckons teenagers spend an average of nearly two hours a day on mobile social networking sites while on holiday. (Perhaps it’s just as well that roaming charges are due to be dropped in the EU by next summer).

So shouldn’t a successful brand be investing more in its mobile PR team and the usability of its app than its website?  If a Consumer PR wishes for people to engage with their brand and have the accessibility to do so while offline, then an app is imperative. It creates more of a sense of necessity for end users. Offering consumers a streamlined, accessible, tailored service makes them more reliant upon the technology used in the app, and this increases unequivocally when a sharing option through mainstream Social Media channels is offered when in online mode.

This dependency was recently highlighted in an experiment run by eBay. They asked 200 participants to live without apps for four days with over a third dropping out before the deadline. Their reasons included desperation to access their apps to log their fitness or share photos.  22% couldn’t bear to not have access to their apps for arranging personal finances.

Of course, an app isn’t always a suitable option for any budding business, with creation and implementation fees usually in the realm of £40,000+. However, the steps to a successful app essentially mirror that of a mobile-optimized site. So what’s key to the success of a mobile or Consumer PR campaign?  Here are some pointers:

  • STREAMLINED – always offer simplicity, allowing the user short, quick burst of activity
  • TAILORED –your app’s technology should make recommendations based on usage
  • ACCESSIBLE –need to be able to open and use without hurdles, extensive passwords or other complications – using Facebook or Twitter information  to log in is much easier
  • RE-INVENTING – always be aware of App store reviews and feedback to plan updates
  • SHAREABLE – allow consumers to advocate your brand by mainstream Social Media

Following these guidelines will ensure your app has a stronger chance of success in engaging with its intended audience and being shared with friends.

 

 

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Has the 16+ age group begun to do the legwork for telecoms PR?

Mobile PR

While Snapchat may once have been seen by many as a novelty app for teenagers looking for the next big thing to entertain themselves (and each other) in the classroom, new figures published this week show a different story. The photo and video sharing app now has 5 million daily active users, and is installed on 18.6% of iPhones in the US, fast catching up with Twitter’s 26.7% market share. It also became the most downloaded non-game app in the iOS App store in May. Like it or not, Snapchat is here to stay, along with other teenage favourites, such as WhatsApp, listed by Apple as the 6th most popular paid-for app of all time and Tumblr, with a huge 300 million monthly unique visitors.

Perhaps the 16+ market is one that has been overlooked in the past in favour of the classic 18-25 bracket, but are they emerging as a secret weapon in the mobile PR machine? Once upon a time, young twentysomethings owned the smartphone market. They used it for successful networking in the early stages of their careers, as well as to stay in touch with friends as social media continued to become inherently mobile and apps took over our lives. Now, the next big ‘It apps’ seem to be marketed with a particular focus on the younger teen. The likes of Snapchat are becoming popular quickly in this market, becoming the next big thing before anyone over the age of 20 has a chance to turn around and say ‘Snapwhat?’

Before we know it, it’s reached the twentysomethings, who simply must have it on their phone to prove they’re somewhat ahead of the curve, even though in reality they’re trailing behind. It seems the media’s new favourite acronym, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out, for those behind the curve) really is prevalent in the mobile world.

What remains to be seen, is whether more up and coming app developers will tune in to this genius mobile PR strategy. Making apps that really appeal to younger influencers allows word of mouth to travel up to the original app generation, who would rather chop off an arm than be left behind in the mobile apps race that they started. Because at any age, who’s really going to let their younger brother be cooler than they are?

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We're passionate about communications, and we have our own views on what's going on.

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