Wearables, the Internet of Things, and the all-digital age
The Internet of Things

One of the main themes of the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has been that a fully mobile, digitized world is not far off. While it may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, the day will soon be upon us where nearly everything we use in our daily lives will be connected. Janger Mohammed, CEO of Jasper Wireless, projects that there is $1.7 trillion to be made in new revenue by 2020 just from devices that embrace the “Internet of Things” revolution. The IOT transforms businesses that create products into business that integrate products and services. And soon, every business will become an IOT business.

An example of this was prominently on display at the MWC: wearables. a market that sort of emerged out of nowhere and appears to be here for the long run. While Samsung and other companies unveiled updated versions of their smart watches, many still feel these lack a crucial aspect of something one straps to their body – fashion. That’s where Finnish company Creoir stepped in, showing off their stylish Ibis Smart Watch at this year’s MWC. It has all the standard smart watch features, an Android platform and interface, Wi-fi and Bluetooth capabilities and USB connectivity, but it doesn’t look like something you’d only wear at the gym; it’s made of crystal and stainless steel.

Some may wonder why we need a smart watch. But there was a time not too long ago that people couldn’t understand why we’d want to have a telephone on us at all times. Paradigms change, and with the mobile world now upon us, everything is soon to be digitized. Companies know this, and they’re preparing as so. For instance, on display at the MWC was an iPhone-compatible toothbrush from Oral B. If your toothbrush is soon to be digitized, what’s next? And what does that mean for brands?

If our watches and toothbrushes are soon to be fully integrated into our digital lives, other traditionally non-digital products will follow suit. And plans are likely already being made. According to Accenture, which surveyed nearly 1,500 C-level executives in 10 different industries, 77% of companies have mobility in their top-5 priorities. You can imagine that out of 1,500 companies, a bunch of them aren’t ones that you’d normally associate with the mobile/digital world.

And that will bring about disruption for brands and industries who never thought they’d have to adjust, and go through changes that some industries have already endured. A move into an app-based ecosystem – one in which even our toothbrushes are connected – will leave media in an even more precarious place than it finds itself today. There’s always been a limited amount of available media space, but that’s becoming even more scarce as society becomes increasingly accustomed to interacting with smaller devices for our entertainment and now, utility.

How will a big player like television respond? Twenty percent of Netflix is already streamed to mobile, and networks are making their shows available for streaming on apps so that viewers can watch on their phones and tablets. Some live television viewing is going in this direction as well, and it’s plausible to believe that we’ll soon be watching all of our live TV on mobile devices as well. Will the Netflix, subscription-based model ever take over television, where viewers will curate what they want to watch while eliminating what they don’t? Obviously, this would rock the boat for big cable, who so depends on its existing bulk model.

This shift and its accompanying disruption will only continue, exponentially at that. If we saw such a great increase in the amount of new technologies, such as wearables, at this year’s MWC, one can only imagine what will be unveiled in another year’s time. And with other high-profile events still on the calendar for 2014, chances are we may not have to wait much longer.

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