The annual SXSW convention is fully underway here in Austin, Texas, and MMW has been on the lookout for any and all of the newest innovations in mobile that are being presented at the show.
At last year’s SXSW, LevelUp – a brand-new mobile payment provider – was first introduced. In fact, they were at every concession stand inside the Austin Convention Center, which is huge, and they were busy signing up attendees left and right as they waited in line. This year, however, mobile payments – at least at concession areas during registration – weren’t very buzz-worthy. In fact, they kind of felt like old news.
That doesn’t mean that mobile payment platforms aren’t flourishing here in Austin. Far from it. They’re everywhere. For example, startup mobile payment organization Isis – a joint venture between wireless carriers Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T – was test marketed here as well as in Salt Lake City and has since launched nationwide in the U.S.
Without question, the foothold ISIS has established in Austin is impressive.
At a panel discussing Isis here two years ago it was standing room only, and a lobby vending machine that was being used to demonstrate NFC (near field communication) payments had long lines of attendees checking it out every day. Many machines using the technology are, of course, now selling Coca-Cola and aren’t really a “big deal” anymore.
One thing that hasn’t changed very much this year in Austin is the difficulty getting a taxi. But when you do, plenty of taxi drivers have platforms like Square at the ready to accept funds from your Visa or MasterCard.
Long story short, new and innovative mobile products and services are always unveiled here at SXSW, the show that gave Foursquare and Twitter their start a long time ago. But on the other hand, the underlying story of this year’s show might simply be that this new technology is slowly but surely making its way out to the public. Because what was new and revolutionary just one or two years ago, is now old hat and no big deal to the mobile masses that have clearly embraced and accepted that which was “futuristic” only a short time ago.
The bottom line? Consumers have begun flocking to the cutting-edge of mobile much more aggressively and enthusiastically than some could have imagined only a short time ago. As a result, many of the groundbreaking innovations touted at SXSW this year may also be old news by next year. And that’s very good news for the mobile tech industry and its hottest startups.