Three things we learned at Mobile World Congress this year

by / Monday, 03 March 2014 / Published in Business

If you are passionate about mobile technology the way I am, the Mobile World Congress is like Christmas and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. It provides the perfect opportunity to get a look at the great new technologies that are coming soon, both from the big-name companies and the innovators that are new to the game. It’s always exciting to get a sneak peak at technologies that could end up changing our lives one day soon, and that’s why I love Mobile World Congress. Here’s a quick look at a few of the things that jumped out at me from this year’s show:

1. Wearable technology is ready to prove it’s all grown up.

With high-profile examples of wearable technology such as Google Glass, the idea was always about making it completely obvious to everyone that you were wearing technology. With designs that wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction movie, the first generation of wearable technology seemed to be all about technology first and style second.

I saw a couple of things in Barcelona this year that lead me to believe this may be about to change. For instance, the Weon Glasses sync to your smartphone and display notifications where you can see them on the lenses. That in and of itself isn’t noteworthy, but the thing that makes Weon Glasses unique is that they look just like a normal pair of stylish dark-frame glasses. They are an example of wearable technology aimed at people who care about function, but aren’t necessarily concerned with broadcasting their technology use to the world. This could be an important new trend that could open up wearable technology to a mass market that extends beyond the ordinary technology enthusiasts.

2. Mobile payment technology: It’s not if it’s coming, but when.

Mobile money was one of the big topics on everybody’s minds at this year’s Mobile World Congress. With the ubiquity of mobile devices, it would only seem natural that they would one day replace our credit cards, which seem almost antiquated by this point in the game. Security was one of the major issues holding mobile payments back from really taking hold in the marketplace. For many people, the idea of paying with a phone just didn’t feel safe, so the common perception continued to be that it wasn’t.

Now, after a year when retailers seemed to be passing out payment card information like candy, it’s become abundantly clear that the payment system we use today isn’t as safe as we assumed it was. Now, there’s nothing stopping us from exploring alternatives, and mobile payment technology looks poised to fill the void. The CEO of Isis, the company set up by the unlikely trio of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile to offer mobile payment services, was on hand to discuss the future of mobile payments. According to Michael Abbott, 95 percent of new point-of-sale terminals will come equipped with near-field communications, and the company has recently revamped its payment app to make it more accessible to a wider user base.

3. There just may be a place for the little guy in mobile

While big companies like Samsung and HTC tend to dominate the headlines in the Android world, the tiny British manufacturer Kazam is demonstrating that there is another way to be successful in this industry. The company, which has only 65 employees, doesn’t attempt to compete with the big guys on technology alone. Their flagship device Kazam Tornado 2 is unique in that it’s the first device on the market to use an octa-core chip, but other than that, their devices aren’t really anything to write home about: they’re just good, solid Android devices offered at a reasonable price.

Clearly, how the company aims to make its mark is by providing a better customer experience. The company pledges to replace cracked screens within the first year, and also offers a customer service call center with technicians who can remotely access devices to provide troubleshooting and repair services. In a world where all other companies are competing to outdo each other technologically, Kazam has recognized that there are other things that matter to customers just as much as the tech specs. Their message will play well with people who just want a better customer experience.