Mobile World Congress is over for another year. Reports are mixed about how many ‘new’ announcements were made but several pundits were not too impressed. I did not go myself, preferring to watch the reports and attempt to manage the fire hose of announcements that were the Twitter feeds.
Several things struck me.
First, the ‘other vertical markets’ that we keep saying will use mobile technology to innovate their offerings were actually there. If you had said that Ford was exhibiting at the show four years ago, you would assume it was a gimmick, not a central part of Ford’s strategy.
Four years’ ago you would also wonder why the likes of Coca Cola would show up, along with other huge consumer brands. The answer is that they now see mobile as the starting point – not just another channel – for their brand awareness and marketing campaigns. This alone signals a huge shift of focus and a huge opportunity.
Cars and health applications – and the biggest of big brands - being at MWC heralds a tipping point for the whole mobile environment. The Personal Computer market ‘disappeared’ because it became the ubiquitous way that we process information. So mobile will now become the invisible connective tissue that allows many other industries to take up the baton of innovation, in partnership.
As with mobile, so with NFC. Many high profile commentators are in line with our cynical view of NFC as a payments or information gathering technology. However, I believe that NFC, when it fully arrives, will also ‘disappear’ but will enable many and different uses in many, varied situations.
Finally, I can only compliment my learned colleague Ed Finegold, that he and PayPal Founder David Marcus are completely in tune on using mobile technology in stores – use the ‘mobile’ bit. Why stand in line for coffee when you can order it and pay for it as you walk into the shop – and then simply pick it up.
If the mobile infrastructure becomes the connective tissue of a smarter world, then billing must be an integral part of that infrastructure and must be built into the emerging partnerships between network operators and each new market as it emerges.