Prep for SXSW 2013: A Look Back at 2012

Trevor Jonas VP of Digital, Access Communications

Posted on March 1st 2013

Prep for SXSW 2013: A Look Back at 2012

With SXSW 2013 kicking off in about a week the buzz has started to pick up about what will be hot (or not) coming out of Austin this year. Before we look ahead to 2013, let’s take a quick look back at the 2012 Interactive festival and recall what was all the rage a year ago.

The Jay-Z concert sponsored by American Express was one buzz-worthy moment, as was the hot rumor that CNN was close to acquiring tech blog Mashable for $200 million. We know the latter did not happen as Mashable is still independent, but it certainly made waves at the show.

Of course there were also a handful of brands that were driving both online and on the street discussions from deep in the heart of Texas.

Big brands showed off their +’s

Nike’s presence at the show was centered on the Nike+ FuelBand and it had a huge physical presence on the streets to engage attendees. Not only did the company announce a new API for the band and host a related hackathon, but it also partnered with VEVO to host several shows at the festival with entry determined by who racked up the most “fuel points.”

Not to be outdone, Google created an entire village on Rainey Street to drive interaction with attendees around its various products and services. Chief among them was Google+, which had been called a ‘virtual ghost town’ by The Wall Street Journal just weeks before SXSW. The company hosted a Google+ boot camp for attendees and aggressively positioned itself as anything but a ghost town.

Battle of the ‘ambient location’ apps

With the tech elite eagerly seeking the “next Twitter” or “next Foursquare” to emerge from the festival, the discussion gravitated toward so-called “ambient location” apps. The two most buzz-worthy from SXSW 2012 were Highlight and Glancee.

Both apps used your mobile phone’s GPS to show you other users with similar interests that were physically located within your general vicinity. Reactions to the apps ran the gamut—from “this will be the next big thing” to “this is downright creepy and will never take off.”

Two months after SXSW 2012, Glancee was acquired by Facebook. Meanwhile, Highlight rolled out an Android version of its app and has been steadily updating its product ever since.

SXSW is clearly never lacking in innovation, intrigue, rumors and more—and that’s not even taking into account the parties. So, what big themes, stories and hot companies do you expect to emerge from the 2013 installment?


Trevor Jonas

VP of Digital, Access Communications

A keen observer and active participant in the ever-changing media landscape. VP of Digital at Access Communications--though the views expressed here are mine alone. Say hello: @TrevR

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