10 mobile trends to watch out for in 2011

Apple was the telecommunications industry’s flag-bearer during 2010, finally delivering on the promise of the “Year of the Mobile” — initially with its launch of the iPad in April and continuing with the launch of the iPhone 4 in June.

What will 2011 hold for Mobile?

1. iPhone sales will rocket on the back of the Verizon deal

I predict Apple will sell another 10-12 million iPhones in 2011 through its new deal to supply the US carrier Verizon with CDMA handsets. In 2010, Apple sold approximately 40-45 million iPhones.

The top of the market for smartphone handsets will continue to be dominated by Apple worldwide.

2. iPad 2 will set the bar higher for tablets

The next generation iPad will be announced in early 2011, to ship by April.
Some of the expected features of the newer tablet include a camera, gyroscope, USB card and SD slot, a thinner and lighter form, faster processor and more memory.

The iPad 2 will further entrench the tablet as the media consumption tool of the future, with 13-16 million units of the original already sold.

3. Apps will replace mobile web content

Most mobile content is increasingly being consumed not by accessing mobile web pages, but rather through applications. At the end of 2010, the iPhone app store offered 300 000 applications, the Android store 130 000, Blackberry 18 000 and Nokia’s Ovi store 25 000 apps.

The trend towards an app-based mobile presence and customer engagement will accelerate.

4. Android will continue to create credible iPhone competitors

Google Android handsets surpassed the number of iPhone handsets shipped in the US during the first half of 2010 for the first time.

As the Android operating system continues to advance with the weight of Google billions behind it, new versions of Android schedule for early 2011 will mean that handset manufacturers will begin to differentiate on hardware and branding.

5. Bifurcation of web & mobile social networking

For a long time, mobile social networking was something that you did while you didn’t have access to your desktop or notebook computer. This is quickly changing, enabling mobile social networking to actually carve a content niche called the real-time web.

Masses of rich social content with tremendous contextual relevance and stickiness will be created on the back of user mobility, handset camera availability, location information and the social graph.

6. SMS messaging and MIM

The high costs of personal SMS will continue to drive adoption of Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) applications (like Whatsapp or MXit) that are increasingly capable of operating system-driven message push. All significant handset providers will offer similar services, so that mobile messaging costs will become the cost of the transferred data.

Organisations, on the other hand, will use SMS more than ever to engage with stakeholders in Personalised Priority Messaging (PPM).

The growth in PPM will be driven by key benefits and advantages including immediacy (message push is inherent), relevancy, ubiquity (more than 70% of the world’s population can be reached via SMS), simplicity and actionability.

PPM will be widely used in risk mitigation, business process improvement, demand generation, product consumption/usage, market engagement, customer affinity, transactional flow, service delivery, and behavioral activity.

7. Location based-services

Increased handset and network support for location information utilisation will drive application development and increased adoption of location-based services. This will in-turn drive richer experiences in-app than are currently possible through Foursquare, Facebook or Google Latitude and their ilk.

8. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is today where social networking was in 2007. Increased smartphone adoption will drive augmented reality application development. 2011 will be characterised not by massive growth in augmented reality usage by the general population, but rather by crucial progress made in meta-tagging the real world by a fairly small group of early tech-savvy adopters.

9. Mobile coupons

The massive growth in the value and distribution of Groupon and the explosion of collective buying during 2010 shows that people are keen to save a buck in the current economic climate.

Expect to receive mobile coupons via SMS far more regularly; because mobile coupons are the easiest coupons to receive, store, mobilise and use and furthermore, they enjoy the highest rates of redemption.

10. Mobile payments

Two types of mobile payments will see widespread adoption in different markets, reflecting different use cases:

  • Mobile cash transfers in developing markets, like African countries, where final transactions will be mostly handled with cash (MPesa broke new ground here in Kenya), and
  • Mobile point of sale payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The US seems to be driving this category with Android 2.4 support for NFC and Citibank trialing NFC payments aggressively during 2010.

The cashless society will be that one step closer towards the end of 2011.

11. Privacy

Julian Assange and Wikileaks recently laid bare the extent to which personal privacy has been invaded while we weren’t paying attention. No longer does law enforcement have to compel you to open your house, office, notebook computer to search for evidence or information. They simply go straight to your freemail provider, Facebook or similar data repository with a court order.

Suddenly, the cloud doesn’t seem like such a safe place to keep your personal information.

New peer-to-peer mobile communications technologies will launch in 2011 that will make it easier for you to communicate securely on your mobile phone with your contacts and retain your data and privacy.

We’ve waited such a long time for mobile data to really make an impact to how we live our lives, but boy, it’s not going to disappoint in 2011. Vive le Mobile!



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