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What we learned at MWC and Embedded World

Posted by Joe McNamara on 4th March 2014

Last month, a few EML Wildfire folk braved the continent for two of the largest technology shows of the year: Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Embedded World, Nuremberg.

It’s always interesting to see what the world’s technology movers and shakers are paying most attention to promoting at such events, so here’s a quick run-down of the big, current topics in the mobile and electronics industries.

The Internet of Things (IoT): It’s fair to say that the IoT was prominent at both shows as many companies view the concept of connecting more and more ‘objects’ as an opportunity for all sorts of reasons. There is a great deal of uncertainty around what the Internet of Things in practice means, which makes it quite easy to dismiss as a slightly meaningless umbrella term.

Yet anyone who follows the technology industry closely knows that it actually is ‘a thing’ and that M2M communications is not even a new concept. One only has to think of smart meters and driverless vehicles to see that sophisticated M2M communications are already being used in a number of ways. From our perspective as a tech PR agency it’s important that businesses define clearly:

1) What they mean by the phrase. What exactly does the IoT mean to you, as it means something different to just about everyone?

2) What is your messaging around the IoT? Are you just a bit excited about it or do you actually solve some the challenges around a certain area of M2M communications?

Wearable technology: We can rant and rave about wearable technology and the less sceptical among us can bandy around clichés such as ‘people laughed at the iPad’. The truth is: Wearables basically took over CES earlier this year and there has been no shortage of articles devoted entirely to the wearable technologies floating around MWC 2014.

I’d say it’s inevitable that attitudes towards products like smartwatches and fitness-based wearables will change. At the moment there’s a feeling even from within the tech industry that far from congratulate you on your choice, your peers are still far more likely to laugh you out of the room if you walk in with a computer attached to your wrist. But as we see with all such things, designs get neater, the actual uses become more notable and most probably Apple come along with an iWatch and all of a sudden you’re seen as some sort of philistine if you don’t have one.

At the moment, the challenge for PRs and marketers is communicating the real benefits of a smartwatch. The initial wave of scepticism is beginning to drag on a bit, and this is something that needs to be addressed quickly if wearable tech isn’t to become a bit of a pejorative term.