And the winners are?
OK, just to be clear, I’ve not included our agency's experiences at MWC 2017. That would be biased. What follows is my impartial view of the brands and booths that stood out this year at MWC, when looking across the broad canvas.
Firstly, there’s a real sense the bar has been raised design-wise. Not only are there more immersive experiences enabled by creative use of tech, a lot of the architecture has an avant-garde quality and energy. The show has a more modern vibe this year.
Several booths stand out: Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Huawei and for different reasons, Nokia and Samsung.
For me, Ericsson takes the main prize. It’s so clearly no longer an infrastructure behemoth. It’s like someone’s lifted a hip digital enclave, like Shoreditch or Gangnam, and dropped it into Barcelona for a week. Really clever use of the space too. Ericsson has used the venue’s raw, industrial architecture as part of the booth’s character. No money wasted on flooring. Just exposed concrete. Very much like any vibrant, digital start-up would inhabit. All the design energy shouts empathy with the digital world. And there are cues to vertical sector experience. That’s where the money will be made.
OK, IBM. IBM has always had a nod to their global campaigns. This year is no exception. So there are references to Watson, the avuncular super computer (or idea) that machines will transform everything from a medical diagnosis to streaming entertainment to fit your mood. But, it’s the rhythmic ceiling sculptures and nod to a world of infinite creativity that grabs attention.
And then there’s the medium is the message: Intel. The massive, new gen video-wall responds to human interaction. That too, grabs attention.
Huawei’s vast systems booth is strong with its captivating clouds – a metaphor. And in their consumer booth, Gucci-esque touches along with an artistic, portrait gallery, weave through the space. It oozes a sense of luxury with humanity.
Nokia? Smashed it in the Twitter-sphere with the nostalgic release of the 3310. Novel idea – a phone. Can’t resist singing, ‘Let’s - do - the time - warp - again…’
Samsung pulls the crowds again this year with its high octane, VR extravaganza and more open space. Less contrived than last year. Samsung is elegant and modernist. But with so much on show, the overarching narrative can be confusing. I know this isn’t the Ideal Home Show, however, for a group with everything from e-watches to washing machines, they have the ultimate connected-life story. Not sure that comes through as strongly as it could or maybe should.
Overall, the standard of design and interactivity has been pushed up at MWC 2017. Clearly, those of us in the creative space can take heart from a world revolutionised by digital. It’s providing a creative boost.
MWC 2017 Barcelona LearningsBlog
A view from InnoTrans 2016, BerlinBlog