Tag Archives: mobile

Show review: impressive tech from IFA 2019

PCR IFA blog

Wow, what another great IFA. In its 59th year, the show exceed last year’s 1,800+ exhibitors and 244,000+ attendees and continued to be cemented in the calendar as the leading showcase of the technology industry for trade and consumers.

The consumer goods market in Europe is significant and for the first half of 2019 was worth €450bn, down 2% and forecasted to remain flat in the second half at €1.011tn. However, the stats still define Europe as the second largest technology market with a 25% share, behind China at 27% with North America third with a 19% share.

The speed of change in product innovation, and the increase in channels to sell these products in line with customer needs, is not losing pace. While there was no great fanfare of a new technology announcement, what was evident was how innovation and invention are evolving into the mainstream. This included the next generation of Web Operating Systems, 5G devices and AI developments, all designed to achieve a more proactive ecosystem which enables all devices and appliances in the home to be connected more efficiently.

One of the key focuses this year more than ever was the prevalence of voice control / AI controlled products. Almost every brand and category has either one or both of the two leading voice assistants becoming inbuilt and connected, increasing the smart home ecosystem across almost every device, MDA and wearable.

The adoption of AI amongst all age groups is on the increase with 31% of millennials owning three or more connected devices and rapidly increasing across all generations as ‘our’ trust increases in the technology and privacy fears are addressed through tougher regulatory measures. Apparently it would take you on average 73 days to read all the Ts & Cs you’ve signed up for online and even then we don’t have a clue what we’ve agreed to. Tougher regulation is essential to protect our data and how brands use the data we willingly offer up.

The smart home market is growing, but for many, the smartphone is still key when controlling smart home elements. However, when looking at energy and lighting controls, 32% use a smart speaker. Whilst 15% of UK consumers say it is “essential” for new smart home devices to connect with a smart speaker/ home hub, 32% say “I would be open to trying shopping via voice and a smart speaker”, whereas only 20% say “shopping by voice with a smart speaker would be much more convenient than the ways I shop currently”.

JBL who have shipped over 100 million speakers globally and launched the #100mSmiles campaign made clear their intentions to dominate by understanding the market better than many, having identified that 70% of consumers would like an audio device with the possibility to control their environment to create the right ambience while listening to music. They also had a nod with ‘green’ credentials in the smart device category, which may be a first, launching the Flip 5 Ocean & Forest, a connected speaker made from 90% recycled plastic.

LG were really rather forward thinking at this year’s IFA Future Talk and identified the ‘silver generation’ as a potential growth area for technology, however it accepts that trust within this generation is a barrier. It also focused on the need for simplicity, which is self-evident from products that were once considered cutting edge and are now defunct. Thinking about how difficult it was to program a VCR. It was a challenge and now this challenge is eradicated because we just talk to the devices to fulfil the same function.

The connected market is on the increase, no question and this extends to white goods with 11.4% of all MDA’s sold in Western Europe being connected, up from 4.8% in the same period back in 2016. When you consider that in Q4 2018 connected MDAs in Asia Pacific accounted for 26.5% of all MDAs sold, there is still growth opportunities for brands and retailers in the European market.

There’s been a lot of hype around 5G and this was also evident at IFA 2019, and while autonomous vehicles will rely on the technology in the future, more immediately 5G is a transformative technology for the home. As it’s spearheading a multi-dimensional world connecting appliances, brands and people in real time with its fast bandwidth and reduced latency. Take a look around your home. There’s already numerous appliances that rely on a strong wireless connection to work, from virtual assistants to laptops – and without it everything comes to a halt. 5G will provide an alternative to fixed wireless internet making things connect quickly, nicely and simply. From rural areas where broadband speeds are poor to urban areas where speeds can suffer from congestion; 5G will enhance the possibilities for a smarter home, streets, towns and cities.

Autonomous vehicles were more evident this year and as we draw closer to the reality that we may get driven rather than drive ourselves, acceptance is increasing. In essence cars will become more than a means to get from A to B, enabling the passenger to do more. An interesting take on this reality, again by LG, was asking what are we going to do with our time whilst being transported? Well LG want to entertain you by making that now redundant windscreen become a TV screen that you can cast to and watch, work, play or shop. Imagine being driven autonomously and be surrounded by the convenience of technology that enables you to carry on as you would do at home or in the office. The safety concerns are evident as highlighted by Tyron Louw, Research Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds: “Nobody knows for sure how the world will look in five years, yet we are all under pressure to prepare for that future. Driverless cars merge two imperfect systems – humans and automation – to anticipate new types of road accidents.”

However, with the advent of 5G, autonomous vehicles on our streets, not just in major cities, is certainly not fantasy and definitely reality within the next decade.

The consensus at SHIFT, the two-day convention at IFA Berlin exploring the Future of Mobility was clear: “Electric vehicles will be a key part of the future of mobility, but they are not the only solution. Instead, smart cities and autonomous vehicles will be key components of our “mobility-as-a-service” future, where cars are just one component of a broad mix of transport modes that we are using.

“While there was no doubt among participants that autonomous vehicles would soon become reality, they were split on how this would affect the world’s car culture.”

Other trends away from true innovation saw many brands tapping into the increasing esports market. Acer launched Planet9, an open gaming community platform and others have negotiated tenuous link ups such as Beko with League of Legends and Samsung with Fortnite. All no doubt designed with a view to ride the increasing esports wave and appeal to Millennials and Generations Z and Alpha. The global market for gaming hardware is on the rise as a result of its appeal and new ease of access assisting in a forecasted 14% increase in 2019 with an estimated value of €12.4bn.

Whilst IFA is all about innovation and showcasing the future, I must admit I do enjoy a bit of nostalgia and my favourite throwback product came from Sony with the Walkman 40th Anniversary edition. A welcome reminder from Sony on how they as the innovators once changed how we listened on the move and created a category in the process that everybody copied and developed to be better or worse depending on your opinion.

IFA is not just about showcasing technology, it’s also about defining how we as human beings could or will live better lives through the adoption and acceptance of innovation. Long may IFA continue to enable and encourage the creativity of brands to define the technology of the future.

To read the full article please visit PCR.
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Equipping young minds for a successful digital future

Bdaily blog

The UK is leading the adoption of digital technology enabled in education with UK Schools allocated an estimated £900 million in funding from the Department of Education for 2019-20 for EdTech according of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In physical terms this equates to 3,392,100 computers in classrooms across the UK with an average Primary School having 70 computers and Secondary an average of 431[BESA.ORG]

There are currently 32,113 schools in the UK. Of these, 20,925 are primary schools and 4,168 are secondary schools. There are 2,381 independent schools, 1,256 special schools and 351 pupil referral units. [BESA.ORG]

The opportunity to expand Edtech sales are obvious for those who know how to tap into this growing market that values accessible technology to equip young minds for a successful ‘digital’ future. There are also benefits for already stretched schools to help bridge the gap through Edtech as it’s proven to reduce teacher workload, boost student outcomes and help create a level playing field for those requiring learning support. So much so that the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, set out plans in April this year to support innovation and raise the bar in education establishments across England backed by a £10 million injection.

School funding per pupil is expected to be frozen in real terms between 2017-2018 and 2019-20 albeit at a level of above 4% – IFS

The target audience is not exclusively schools, it’s also parents, as many public secondary schools employ a BYOD program, therefore parents are expected to buy their child a suitable device. However, this is becoming stricter as previously it was an “any device will do” approach but due to different devices having different capacities and capabilities, this has changed. Today, school book lists stipulate the minimum requirements for a device to create a more uniform and compatible ecosystem that is hassle free for all.

The retail market for Back To School is worth, in all categories, some £1.45bn in the UK and is an increasingly important fixture in the retail calendar, becoming competitive for both brands and retailers endeavouring to appeal, in particular to secondary school pupils and those students heading off to university.

From PC to projection and display technology such as Jamboard from Google & BenQ the classroom is changing where technology is the norm and standard for students as they transition through their education and eventually into the workplace.

It’s not just about the hardware and software solutions, it’s also about the teachers who need professional development and training to understand how each device could work and how they can effectively add them in to their lesson plans. Figures from Bett highlight that 74% (rising from 60% in 2018) of educators surveyed said that educational technology is often not sufficiently easy to use for ordinary teachers. So, those brands that offer the end to end solution that enables education access to the best technology with the easiest interface, least maintenance and highest reliability will capitalise on this growing market.

Chromebook by Google is one of these, Google shared in January 2019 that 30 million Chromebooks are now used in education, up 5 million from the last reported figures in 2018. Growth has been aided by many country’s education systems choosing to use Chrome OS devices and G Suite cloud based computing solutions that enable collaborative learning accessible whenever you need it. In London the brand has worked with London Grid for Learning to help over 90% of schools across the city bring technology to more students by offering free training in Google Classroom, G Suite and other tools to help improve the digital skills of teachers.

Similarly, are Epson who have identified that 58% of students cannot read all content on a 70“ flat panel. Epson’s interactive display solutions provide scalable image size. Having the right sized image for a room can make a huge difference to levels of concentration, enjoyment and understanding.

The DFE in April 2019 published a white paper entitled “Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and the technology industry” DfE White Paper.

This white paper identified 10 challenges for industry to assist in eradicating these within education quoting: “To catalyse change in the use of technology across the English education system, we are launching a series of EdTech challenges. They are designed to support a partnership between EdTech industry and the education sector to ensure product development and testing is focused on the needs of the education system. The challenges are to industry and the education sector (including academia) to prove what is possible and to inform the future use of EdTech across our education system.”

Setting out their stool to really help children in education be ‘digital’ ready.

To read the full article please visit Bdaily News.

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How 5G will boost the smart home market

PCR Blog

Over the last few years, smart home technology has revolutionised the way we live at home and according to PWC’s white paper, ‘Connected Home 2.0’, £10.8bn will be spent on smart home devices in the UK in 2019. But despite this, a recent survey we carried out into the connected home highlighted consumer frustration with smart home technology, with consumers citing that they can’t get their smart home technology to connect to each device and talk to each other, they have no idea how it all works, they are worried about security and there’s little perceived benefit or value.

Whilst this may sound negative, this presents a huge opportunity for 5G to boost further device adoption and showcase the future possibilities in the home.

There’s been a lot of hype around 5G – from downloading a full HD movie in under five seconds to making fully automated vehicles a reality – but I believe 5G will be a transformative technology for the home, as it’s spearheading a multi-dimensional world connecting devices, brands and people in real time with its fast bandwidth and reduced latency. Take a look round your home, count up the numerous devices that rely on a strong wireless connection to stream, to work, to secure, to survive – tablets, mobiles, TVs, voice assistants, PCs, thermostats, light-bulbs, alarms, cameras, and gaming right through to connected appliances. Without a good connection, they can all come to a grinding halt.

Stadia by Google is an example of where 5G and gaming complement each other. No downloads, no patches and no console makes this the cloud gamers dream, and Google is delivering this incredible service without compromising on graphics quality. With 2.3bn active gamers globally and 46% of those (1.1bn) spending, the financial impact to the establishment is significant. Stadia will be a tough act to follow, with sharing options via YouTube, which has 63m daily viewers worldwide, Google Assistant built in, 4K resolution games at 60 frames per second with HDR (High Dynamic Range), and a plan to support 8K resolution in the future. Now with Stadia, the internet – accessed increasingly via 5G – will be your store, with the network and data centre as your platform.

The innovation that is 5G will provide an alternative to fixed wireless internet making things connect quickly, faster, nicely and simply. From rural areas where broadband speeds are poor to urban areas where speeds can suffer from congestion, 5G will enhance the possibilities for entire communities and not only the smart home.

This will pave the way for 5G enabled fully integrated living spaces that adjust to the needs of each member of the family, changing the way people entertain, consume media, use their utilities, communicate and cook. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home are only the start and we’ve seen just a fraction of what personal assistants are capable of. Google announced at CES earlier this year that it wants to make its assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life; in the home, in the car and on mobile devices. 5G will be that enabler.

Layer on top of this the possibilities of 5G enabled in-home augmented and virtual reality for cooking. Imagine at the touch of a button, Delia or Jamie standing next to you showing you how to cook one of their recipes. Sit down with your friends and family to watch a tennis match and image real time sports data appearing over tennis players as they hit the ball. 5G will make smart homes even smarter by unshackling developers from the speed restrictions and other issues that exist with today’s solutions where devices rely on Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth connections.

For those who feel security could be an issue, the good news is that mobile operators are ensuring security is built into the fabric of their 5G networks and there’s no reason for 5G networks to be any less secure to use than 4G. When connecting a device to a 5G network the same protocols you’d apply to security software, passwords etc. should be applied as normal, however it is worth noting that all data sent over 5G is encrypted and 5G devices will offer increasingly advanced security options. Interestingly, according to research from Ericsson, 29% of people would like DNA authentication to be a biometric security option.

The reality is that 5G can provide a more consistent approach, making things easier to setup and thus encouraging product development through to subsequent consumer adoption and increased usage of the vastly developed Internet of Things. With inbuilt future proofing, one of the most interesting effects will be the societal impact 5G will have for our ageing population, assisting those who are fit but may be less able to manage themselves. This may blur the lines between hospital and home. For many, it’s more effective to manage the healthcare of patients who require the most resources from home rather than via our currently overloaded NHS. In addition, its adoption can reduce loneliness and speed of response in the event of an emergency.

We’ve already seen how sensor operated smart home tech can alert families to movement, so they know their elder relatives are up and about in the house and not lying there injured. There are also remote surgeries where doctors see patients by video call, however buffering is often an issue in remote locations, which makes the service more difficult for vulnerable people to use. The implementation of 5G will take this to a whole new level; real-time remote monitoring of medication usage; food intake levels and exercise; connecting the vulnerable to seamlessly operated telehealth services and tracking indicators from sleep to blood pressure and insulin levels.

It can help power personalised, preventative and smarter care capabilities and elevate connected medicine to an unprecedented level, helping elderly people live fulfilling and productive lives on their terms. This is exciting times for a growing societal issue here in the UK but let’s not underestimate the understanding we need of the health ecosystem and what it will take to implement the systems to connect to these technologies.

The opportunities 5G technology offers all generations extends beyond the home and to the streets through autonomous vehicles, traffic management and the smart monitoring of the environment around you, telling you in real-time, for example, where best to avoid pollution on your daily run. Moreover, everything you would currently expect to be able to access or control in the home will be available to you wherever you are, without any comprises imposed on you by being away from regular Wi-Fi based connectivity.

Ericsson forecasts that by 2024, 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9bn, and that coverage could blanket up to 65% of the world’s population.

The UK’s largest network operator, EE, was the first to launch 5G in the UK on 30th May, 2019, beaten by the Swiss who launched in April. Service started in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, and Manchester, with several other cities joining before 2020. Vodafone also launched on 3rd July 2019 in seven cities with 12 other cities to be included before 2020. Three will join the 5G race in August in London. A total of 25 other locations will get 5G in the UK via Three before 2020. Lastly O2, with no published launch date, announced its plans to roll out its 5G network in 2019 in Cardiff, London, Belfast, and Edinburgh to start, with more areas getting 5G in 2020.

Whilst the UK is already partially 5G enabled, devices are limited and we’re not that far ahead of the vast majority of developed nations whom all plan to launch in 2019/2020 such as Germany, Italy and Norway all behind Vodafone Spain who are ahead of all EU nations having launched on 15th June in 15 cities.

To read the full article please visit PCR.

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Can the new tranche of Chinese tech brands take the UK by storm?

drum blog

In recent years, more Chinese brands than ever have broken new ground in Europe and continued to develop outside of their established Asian markets. One of the most immediately recognisable Chinese brands is Huawei and possibly Hisense but have you heard of Haier, Oppo or Xiaomi? Chinese consumer electronics brands have recently launched in the UK and are fast gaining traction in their respective categories since being made available on the UK high street.

We live in a society where global brands are the norm. Whilst we are, or at least believe we are, familiar with many of the brands we are exposed to, there are others that we don’t know so much about even if we buy-into them as consumers. Do we care about a brand’s origins and heritage? Or are consumer purchase decisions driven by a products’ look, functionality, usage, price point and status? If this new tranche of Chinese tech brands doesn’t focus enough on building their brands and resonance with the UK audience, will they be able to compete with their Californian cousins and achieve their full potential in the UK market?

Cleverly Haier, the world’s number one major appliance brand in terms of volume bought Hoover Candy, a traditional stalwart of the Major Domestic Appliance market in the EU which enables Haier to tap into the trust associated with a familiar European brand. Now listed in John Lewis stores, there’s brand reassurance of Haier is being established among shoppers.

Oppo, China’s leading 4G smartphone manufacturer, launched its range of mobile phones into Dixons Carphone earlier this year. With flagship models coming in at under £800 SIM free, the brand offers premium and innovative features at a fraction of the price other brands may charge. Time will tell if the brand has done enough to resonate and take a big enough market share and see a return on investment on their ICC Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon sponsorship.

Xiaomi, pronounced ‘ShwowMee’, is actually the world’s most valuable privately held company, and the third biggest smartphone maker, selling 61 million handsets last year. Xiaomi has been bold with its UK launch strategy and has opened a great new Mi store at Westfield White City. The store is familiar looking, sharing many similarities, all be it on a smaller budget, to that of its Californian cousins.

It sells a variety of products from mobile phones, TVs, smart kettles, electric scooters and other accessories in an environment where you are encouraged to play and explore. Its pricing is competitive and it’s certainly within the budgets of a far wider demographic than other brands but what it lacks is star quality. Star quality on build, packaging and its ability to give consumers that ‘feel good’ factor from an anonymous brand is essential if it’s to mean more to consumers. All possible if its proud heritage and brand storytelling was more obvious.

Tell me what Mi means to the technology industry and I may be persuaded to purchase some of today’s most competitively priced technology and become a brand advocate. Hide from me what Mi is and I may react a bit more suspiciously and feel the brand isn’t the best fit for me. Brands, wherever they are from, should be proud of their heritage and success. A confident, honest and ethical brand will help instil the necessary confidence in consumers to help a brand to gain traction and ‘win’ in a new market.

To read the full article please visit The Drum.

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Celebrity Endorsement in Technology Still Requires Innovation to Succeed

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Is it a bird or a plane? No, it’s just Henry Cavill using his new Huawei P9+, making him the Ying to Scarlet Johanssons Yang. Both celebrities have cleverly signed up to be the new ambassadors for China’s most recognised international mobile handset brand, Huawei. As two of the most recognised actors on the planet with a box office track record that spans 44 films, which when aggregated amount to almost $8 billion in box office takings (with an average earning of $190 million for each film), why wouldn’t you? After all, Scarlett Johansson has a history of brand ambassador success (if you ignore the disastrous Sodastream ambassador role), which includes Moët and Dolce & Gabbana. She is also one of the worlds most profitable actors, with her movies making on average $84.90 per $1 spentthe highest grossing being Marvels The Avengers.

Johansson, with her own tech credentials in Her and as the indestructible enigma in Lucy, is a credible weapon in Huawei’s armoury, whose current mobile device market share equates to 7.3% (making it the third largest mobile handset manufacturer behind Samsung and Apple in global shipments). Yet in the West, ask anyone about the brand or how to pronounce it, and it would seem that few have heard or know about the most innovative tech firm to come out of China.

Cleverly, Huawei has not only scored with its choice in celebrities, but also in bringing the brand closer to the psyche of its users. For instance, by partnering with Leica, the German lens and camera manufacture of premium photography devices, they add traditional Western brand credentials to what, in tech terms, is a relative newcomer with ambitious plans. As Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Business Group, comments, “We believe in cultural technology, born out of people’s curiosity and desire to be creative by changing the way they experience the world around them. With the P9, working with Leica, we have challenged the norm of what was possible in lens technology – a game-changer for smartphone photography.”

In comparison to other brands, its challenges are huge:  How do you engage with an audience who has likely never heard of your brand? Leica, Scarlett, and Henry are good starts to carving out positioning to a wide audience and extending the brand appeal through these partner choices, but it’s the look, feel, and ability of the product that ultimately wins through.

Working on how to engage with audience and retail partners, to convey brand message and vision, is crucial as Huawei embarks on this ambitious ATL product launch. As with any mobile brand, the carrier message and being recommended as the product of choice, will more than likely convert curious shoppers of the brand into customers — who will hopefully not only become advocates, but also loyal brand users beyond their first P9.

The challenge for Huawei is competing against the budgets of other handset manufacturers and creating a cost per acquisition, which makes commercial sense by bringing the ATL to TTL at this critical stage, to engage with carrier staff and ultimately consumers. No celebrity endorsements or brand associations will achieve the cut through your desired target audience without a good product that attracts the backing of retailers and networks to evangelise about your brand and your vision. These will serve to set your brand apart from the usual suspects and achieve financial and customer satisfaction for all.

Establish the brand without gimmicks, lean on your Android platform credentials, become the product innovators to establish your channels, and work hard to develop them. Once you’ve created your core, increasing confidence in your product and brand, go bold and take it to the mainstream — being mindful that you want to keep your premium status whilst remaining profitable, and avoid being yet another brand struggling in a saturated market.

What these clever brand associations and celebrity ambassadors allow Huawei to do is make some significant noise in the market, an enviable position to be in which other brands will scrutinise with envy. This opportunity to make an impact and a positive first impression with many via this campaign, if carried through successfully, will establish and increase brand recall to spark the desired curiosity in the product. This curiosity can be captured and developed by Huawei to become the brand that splits the mobile handset market and gives consumers a choice. Variety in a bland market makes consumers rethink which device to settle for, rather than opting for the default brand they’ve become accustomed to or network they’re familiar with selling.

Now, whilst glamour is assured, I’m not sure if Henry or Scarlet can break the market alone for Huawei. But, with the assistance of an established and respected brand such as Leica and some clever routes to market activation, it’s fair to say that Huawei is in a better position than most to grow market share in a crowded market and position themselves as a recognised brand.

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2016/05/10/celebrity-endorsement-in-technology-still-requires-innovation-to-succeed/

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MWC 2015: Is It More of the Same or Change for the Sake of Change?

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Mobile brands, including carriers and social media grandees such as Mark Zuckerberg, are in Barcelona at MWC15 to announce, prophesise, and speculate on what we as consumers will want, or think we need, in the form of mobile devices and the connected landscape. It’s true to say that we are a generation that relies on our mobile devices, even to the extent that we feel naked without a device to access the web 24/7. This now extends to wearables for fitness, virtual reality, gaming, and next, our virtual wallet and transport.

Next week at its March 9th ‘Spring Forward’ event, and as ever separately to every other brand, Apple will likely launch the Apple Watch to a global audience who may just be underwhelmed considering the announcement of advances in Android-based wearables demonstrated by HTC, Huawei, LG and Sony to name a few at MWC15. Underwhelmed is perhaps unlikely based on consumer enthusiasm, but the exclusive snapshot of the Apple Watch given by Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph Fashion Editor, demonstrates that Apple is offering what every brand must deliver to its consumers — choice. Apple offers choice of styles, straps, and faces, and of course the Edition variant in 18ct rose or yellow gold for those who like their wearables with a bit of bling. One thing these new arrivals, Apple included, all have in common is that they start to transcend the chasm of tech into fashion. They look great, work effectively, and are worthy cost-effective options (with the exception of Apple) that will further ignite the wearables market.

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But who’s copying who? Fashion brands such as Guess, and luxury watch brands like Tag and Mont Blanc, have made their intentions clear and some could argue are being driven by tech brands. However, why should tech need to look traditional to enable adoption, especially if it only works when I remember to charge it? Where is the value, efficiency, and worth?

On the other hand, we may be blown away by our friends in Cupertino. We have more to digest such as those car rumours in which Google is further ahead in realising, as are some of the more forward-thinking automobile brands. Volvo, for example, is exploring connected car services and is announcing a trial launch, progressing its published plan to create a fleet of driverless cars by 2017.

It’s an obvious move to connect our devices to our transportation – our devices will soon show us how to get to our destination and then take us there in the most efficient manner. Easier said than done, as we all know the pitfalls of satellite navigation. Does a driverless car have the potential to become annoying like a cab driver who is lost, can’t drive, or drives dangerously? Without exception, any mobile or wearable device that connects with our vehicle and 3rd-party applications, like social media, are going to involve advertising, data, and subscriptions, further sacrificing the joy of a quiet and peaceful drive home.

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With connected devices creating more opportunities for brands, every manufacturer understands that they need to have a cross-category approach to devices including phones, wearables, and VR, which is evident from the announcements made at MWC15. As the technology develops, however, brands also need to create amazing, intuitive, and secure software to encourage us to part with more of our tangible assets and transactions, in order to communicate and live virtually.

Are we ready or would we rather, brands included, slow down the pace? Technology is moving so rapidly that innovations are becoming obsolete before they have a chance to become a recognised part of history. The hardware needed to operate these innovations can become redundant sooner thus creating obvious problems in disposal as we can’t indefinitely deal with it by sending it off our shores to become someone else’s problem. Our perceived need to demand more out of our devices, brands, and lifestyles compounded with being forced to update, upgrade, and adopt as a result of market forces may be what drives us to come to a full circle and look for a device that allows a simpler and more traditional private life; unlikely but not impossible.

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Is it too late for BlackBerry’s return to the touchscreen mobile market?

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With Mobile World Congress in Barcelona almost at an end, last night Blackberry chief executive John Chen surprisingly announced BlackBerry’s re-entry into the touchscreen mobile market with the ‘Leap’, joining the recent classic keyboard models, with another three variants to come in 2015.

With an estimated 1,000 smartphones being shipped globally every minute compared to nothing less than a decade ago, can Blackberry reignite enthusiasm – not only amongst new customers, but those die hard brand advocates?

Blackberry shipped 7.9 million phones last year according to a Gartner study, six times less than in 2011 (51.1m).

The brand certainly still deserves some credence, after all it continues to dominate in the B2B sector and has suffered fewer embarrassing privacy leaks than some rivals.

This time, Blackberry will provide access to its services on iOS, Android and Windows phones for a fee as ‘experience suites’, which all sounds very complicated.

With hungry competitors like Microsoft, LG and Motorola bringing similar mid-range devices with more innovations and greater advertising spend to the market, can Blackberry continue to trade on good will and is its market now too business centric to be relevant to make the ‘Leap’?

I hope it’s not too late for Blackberry – it paved the way for the globe’s current top two players who most certainly copied what Blackberry created, and did it well with lesser products but great advertising and brand advocacy.

To survive in my view, Blackberry must once again focus hard on its brand, values, heritage and innovation in a manner which appeals to both more established and emerging demographics.

It needs to stay in the game and keep the competition fresh to offer more choice to both business and consumers.

I guarantee that every mobile carrier wants to see Blackberry survive to ensure certain brands have less control over their business models and a broad spread of brands to partner with now, tomorrow and long-term.

 

Read more at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2015/03/05/is-it-too-late-for-blackberrys-return-to-the-touchscreen-mobile-market/

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Mobile World Congress Plays Backdrop to the Telecoms’ Brand Fight

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As the great and good of the mobile world gather in Barcelona for this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress, an event attended by none other than Mark Zuckerberg fresh on the back of his WhatsApp purchase, what will a crowded category of brands announce next?

Samsung, Apple, LG, Blackberry, Sony, Nokia, Huawei, Motorola and the list goes on. The number of mobile brands out there is large, so how does this mass of brands gain affection? Samsung has just launched a brand marketing platform in a bid to become the ‘most loved brand,’ while this year we’ve seen Huawei ink a partnership with Arsenal. The opportunities for these brands to overstep each other are limitless, so who will win this aggressive marketing match?

You don’t have to look far to see evidence that the world of successful, high-end smartphone makers is shrinking to a few major contenders dominated by Apple and Samsung – while other important brands, like BlackBerry, LG and Motorola, fade in prominence or struggle to compete. Still, lesser known brands have a chance to grow, even thrive, in emerging markets. Lenovo is picking up steam in China, the most important growth market there is; and, even though they’re on the brink of extinction, BlackBerry phones are still selling throughout Africa, South America and the Middle East. ABI Research says that smartphone penetration is at 20 percent out of a global population of 7.2 billion people. Looking at it another way, smartphones accounted for a little over half of all mobile handset sales in 2013. That means there are a lot of people who will be shopping for their first-ever smartphones, people who perhaps aren’t as focused on brand loyalty as they are on value.

So what are these brands doing to gain market share? Sponsorship is a core strategy for many of these brands. Huawei hopes its tie-up with Arsenal will boost awareness of the brand in the UK. It had a 0.9 per cent share of the UK smartphone market in November, according to comScore, putting it 9th in the rankings behind brands including Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry. That is also well behind its global share, which Strategy Analytics estimates at 5 per cent in the third quarter.

Then, there are the beloved celebrity endorsements that catch many an eye. However, it remains unclear whether they have helped some of these ailing tech businesses. HTC had been struggling, but hoped that its signing of Iron Man star, Robert Downey, Jr., last year for a two-year deal could turn things around. In picking a big-name actor to not only front its campaign, but also help shape it, HTC is following a well-trodden path; however, the endorsement has failed to attract at a high level as its net income fell by more than 90 per cent last quarter.

The problem is that there are so many brands out there and the ones that are winning the match are those that have strong brand identities. Whilst Apple focuses on experiences for customers rather than sponsorship and celebrity, the brand keeps consumers at the heart of everything it does, allowing it to anticipate what they want next, breaking new ground in design and performance. Samsung’s products are equally as good (just look at the recently launched S5) and the brand’s marketing approach, a large investment set to drive brand loyalty, is as scientific as its nearest rival. A “brand dependence” index revealed at CES suggested that more people are dependent on the Samsung brand than any other in consumer electronics. As part of its brand strategy, it has invested heavily in social engagement and that too is paying off as it clearly knows its audience and how to target it. With EE in the UK announcing a 68% increase in 4G customers, consumers want a handset which not only compliments the network, but also meets their needs – whether this be functionality, speed or style.

For brands on the periphery to succeed, there needs to be some deep-seated consideration taken in what the brand stands for and what its target audiences are. The brands out there at the moment seem to be clambering after everyone rather than taking a step back and establishing a concrete outlook into the future and where they want to be. Nokia, which – we don’t need to be reminded – is now owned by Microsoft and oddly launching an Android device, is a great example. As with any demographic, brand is everything. For a category that we cannot live without in this connected world (where our smartphones get thinner, get larger in screen size and become not only phones, but also cameras and media devices), these brands could possibly transform their businesses by holding back on the random star endorsements and sponsorships until they know who they’re targeting.

The land grab opportunity is huge and everyone attending MWC this week knows the value of a 1% global decline in emerging markets as predicted by GfK, but who will dominate and buck this predicted trend in our brand-fickle world?

Written by Daniel Todaro

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2014/02/25/mobile-world-congress-2014/

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