Mobile World Congress 2015: Virtual reality and connecting the next billion Internet users 

Weber Shandwick is wrapping up a week in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, capturing and embracing all things mobile. Here’s a look at two additional emerging trends, and how we’re expecting them to remain in the spotlight as 2015 continues.

Mobile World Congress 2015

Virtual reality (VR): Head-worn wearables are beginning to catch on, but cramming an entire computer inside of a headset is both cumbersome and expensive. This year, we’re witnessing the launch of numerous phone-based virtual reality systems that could very well change the way we interact with remote-based teams, entertainment and education. With the phone acting as the hub, VR goggles could become more practical to produce and cheaper to own. Additionally, a number of traditional phone builders have branched out to create their own head-worn wearable – further proof that the term “mobile” is quickly expanding to encompass product segments that were but a pipe dream only a few short years ago.


What does this mean for the mobile industry? For starters, it’s proof that VR isn’t going away. The sci-fi films of yesteryear foreshadowed a world where we’d be able to peer at much more than what was in front of us by way of face-worn computers, and here we are. For brands, this presents an opportunity to connect with a user base in immersive ways, but that comes with its own set of responsibilities. Advertising and marketing will certainly find their place inside the headset, but tolerances and expectations will be far more sensitive given the intimate nature of this device.


Signal to the masses: With most developed cities in the world now having access to mobile broadband that’s as fast (if not faster) than connections they have at home, it’s time to address the billions who aren’t located in a major metropolitan area. 5G was everywhere at MWC, promising wireless speeds as high as 10Gbps. Just about every company at MWC will benefit by another billion or so individuals coming online, which is why we’re seeing infrastructure providers introduce wireless networks that can replace home-based connections. In developing nations, this could kickstart economic growth in a meaningful way – a notion elaborated upon by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


For companies operating anywhere along the digital spectrum, this shift means that they’ll need to embrace a more global perspective when considering messaging and marketing plans. As the next billion comes online, messaging drafted for a North American audience will undoubtedly find its way to Africa and Asia by way of social sharing. While targeting is still possible, companies will need to ensure that some layer of globalization is baked into their communications. Furthermore, clients will have the chance to connect with prospective users for the first time as network proliferation expands but on a nascent medium: the screen of a smartphone.


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If you’re interested in corresponding with our reporter, feel free to reach out to Darren Murph.


Disclosure: GSMA, host of the Mobile World Congress, is a Weber Shandwick client.