It's life Jim, but not as we know it

It’s that time of year again when the great and the good of the mobile industry decamp to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. Metro strike notwithstanding, record numbers of delegates look set to make MWC 2016 the biggest yet. As exciting as CES the month before, there are always announcements and updates which have far reaching implications for those of us on the fringes.

Yesterday, for example, Mark Zuckerberg in a surprise presentation for Samsung talked about the future of 360 video. Facebook has created a new social virtual reality team that will focus on exploring the future of social interaction in VR beyond gaming. This will include facilitating how people can connect and share using today's VR technology, as well as investigating the long-term possibilities as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform.

For those of us that remember Second Life, VR is bigger, better, more immersive and much easier to engage with. Facebook says: “Already, millions of people watch 360 videos on Facebook every day. More than 20,000 have been uploaded, with hundreds more added daily.”

The future of VR is how people interact with each other virtually rather than it being a solo experience within a headset. Eventually this will include how brands can utilise the platform to further immerse and engage customers and prospects and drive incremental revenue. Due to one-to-one potential of the technology VR will fall under the direct marketing remitt meaning that data and privacy concerns will take centre stage. Whilst this is still an embryonic technology, it is evolving on a daily basis and marketers must learn from mistakes of the past (SMS being a key one) and start considering now how VR can be folded into the marketing mix in an effective, yet responsible way.