Call me lazy. Call me a prophet. I think I am ahead of the curve with respect to most things of this age. I have expressed the sentiments here on Mobility Nigeria in the past that attending physical cellphone launches was mostly a waste of time and energy. Finally, in the year 2020, smartphone launches have changed and proven me right.
From as far back as I can remember and up till early this year, the typical smartphone launch involved picking a date and a venue, sending out IVs, spicing up the launch venue, ordering food and drinks, and having anything from a handful of people to thousands of them crawl through traffic to attend the product launch. Smartphone launches were glamorous affairs, as every brand attempted a unique spin. The more premium the brand, the more fantastic the impressions they tried to create at the event. And it was delightful to see and experience.
I enjoy beautiful ambience as much as the next person with refined tastes, and I have been a guest at hundreds of smartphone launches all through my 16-year career in this industry. I have attended and enjoyed awesome experiences at mobile phone launches by Apple, Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, TECNO, Infinix, itel, and more.
But I have consistently said that they were mostly not necessary. From a blogger’s perspective, for example, more often than not, I already have the full details of the product weeks before the launch, so the launch event hardly ever tells me anything new. As a matter of fact, the most boring part of the event is usually the part in which the specs and features are presented. Except there is new information that I didn’t know beforehand, I am so totally bored during that time.
Also, still coming from the blogger’s perspective, even if any new information about the product is made available at the launch, a blogger misses nothing, because in today’s hyper-connected, digital age, that information gets to him instantly, or at the most, within a few minutes. Five years ago, I published the article, What is the point of attending launch events again? That article addresses the subject of launch events from the blogger’s perspective.
From both the consumer and the blogger point of view, the best part of smartphone launches is the ability to have hands-on time with the product. Where I am not privileged to have the device for review upfront, I look forward to that section the most. I just want to play with those darling phones.
Then there is the issue of networking and socialising. Smartphone launches had that extra advantage. Personally, I do not miss that because I suck at socialising and networking. My introverted self always found it awkward at events. Coronavirus has done us introverts some good. Hail COVID-19, the patron saint of introverts.
Thanks to the pandemic and lockdown of cities around the world, smartphone launches have changed in 2020 and become virtual affairs. No halls. No crawling through traffic. No buffet tables. No goodie bags (crying). and no hands-on time with the new products (aaaargh!). a genius once said that simplicity is what you attain when you strip something of all the non-essentials till it stands clean. Smartphone launches have attained to that level of godhood.
In the last few months, I have observed Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, TECNO, Infinix, and others conduct virtual smartphone launches via Instagram Live, as well as via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It is beautiful to see what I had advocated for happen before my very eyes.
One of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has done is compel humans to become more efficient with resources. That 2-hour trip from Ikeja to Victoria Island for a 20-minute business meeting was never necessary. It was a collosal waste of time and money, as well as a huge hindrance to productivity. Now, everyone who thought I was crazy back then is holding business meetings via Zoom today. Humans are truly resistant to change. These things were easy to see then, but we resisted them. Something cataclysmic has come up and forced our hands to do it now.
Schools that had rejected the idea of online learning, are all adopting and executing it now. Hospitals and doctors are now consulting online as well.
Mobile phone and smartphone launches have changed and taken up a form that is more elegant, more cost-effective, and more sustainable. It is a beautiful thing to see.
This week, I shall be attending my first official virtual smartphone launch from the comfort of my home, and I would be missing nothing. Zilch. The brand had shipped the phone to me for review and so I have had hands-on time with it and know it already like the back of my hand. We already have the detailed specs of the phone up here on Mobility Nigeria. The phone review itself will be published on the day of the phone launch. At the virtual launch event. Perhaps I shall miss the food and drinks. Is there any way those can be shipped to me, please?