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Mobile predictions for 2015

Posted date:
Mark White, CEO and Founder

Game of Phones

There’s nothing, absolutely nothing in today’s digital world that can match mobile for ubiquity. Worldwide, there’s already over two billion smartphones, a figure which is set to double in the next five years, as more consumers in developing nations take up 3G networks, and low-cost Android devices become more readily available. 

In Australia, we’re already a smartphone-dominated nation. As just one of two countries where Apple launched the iPhone 3 on all networks simultaneously – the other being Russia – we’ve taken to our shiny iPhone screens as we once took to Vegemite and meat pies. With Google’s Android-powered handsets making headway each and every day, analysts are now predicting that smartphones will soon make up 80 per cent of mobile phones in Australia, a higher penetration rate than even markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

But now that we’ve all got smartphones, and happily spend most of our waking hours each day engrossed in whatever is happening on our 4.7 inch screens – what happens next? What trends or innovations will drive our mobile consumption over the coming year or decade?

I had the pleasure of debating this topic on 1 December with two amazing industry colleagues – Halfbrick’s Ramine Darabiha, and QUT’s Dian Tjondronegoro – at the final Mobile Monday Brisbane event for 2014. Held each month at River City Labs, Mobile Monday events bring together app developers, digital marketers, business mobility specialists, and anyone else interested in mobile, for a lively series of presentations and discussions on a wide range of mobile-centered themes. This engagement – and free beer and pizza – make Mobile Monday one of Brisbane’s most worthwhile digital events.

Our “Future of Mobile” panel session – moderated in style by Ken Goldberg – began with Dian and Ramine each presenting a review of what happened in mobile in 2014. Ramine showed a few forthcoming mobile devices that seem reactive to a desire for new, but not necessarily better, smartphones – with (variously) bendable or wholly translucent screens, and the keyboard projected on to your palm by your connected watch. Dian spoke about the “big data” of mobile: contextual awareness, and personal wellness monitoring, combining in an attempt to shape a much more personal mobile experience for each consumer.

The 60-plus strong Mobile Monday audience was kept engaged for well over an hour, as the panel debated topics ranging from mobile security, to whether a third combatant would rise to challenge Apple and Samsung, and what types of changes we might see in the ecosystem of networks, devices, and applications/services that make up the mobile industry. The success of the event was a credit to both the knowledgeable audience, and the credibility and eloquence of the panel, and it concluded a terrific 2014 for mobile events in Brisbane.

In summary, I want to offer what I believe are the three primary trends that will dominate mobile over the coming year.

Firstly, we’ll see a meteoric rise in the number of network-connected devices that aren’t smartphones. Whether you call this machine-to-machine (M2M) or the Internet of things (IoT), more and more devices and appliances will connect to mobile data networks to monitor, manage, and collect information about our environment and us. We’ll transition from having 1-2 SIM card-powered devices per mobile user to perhaps 10 or more, and the volume of data that becomes available to us from our immediate environment will exponentially grow.

Secondly, the availability of personal or private information to the applications and services we engage with will – whether we want it to or not – continue to rise, both in the volume of data and general pervasiveness.  While privacy advocates will shudder, there’s an entire generation of users who are now accustomed to clicking on the “Accept” button, seemingly without cognition of the possible consequences of what they have just agreed to share. How that data is used, and also misused, will form a significant part of the mobile date.

And finally, on a less somber note, mobile will become the most important digital medium. Above all others, it will be the most vibrant. The fertile imagination of entrepreneurs, both here in Brisbane and around the world, combined with the ease-of-access to an informed audience and also monetisation strategies, means mobile is no longer a compelling “additional” audience channel, instead it will be the first, the most important and most innovative digital channel through which to engage consumers.

So as mobile consumers, we’re lucky – we have it all to look forward to. As mobile innovators and entrepreneurs, though – we’d best get cracking!

For announcements and news about Mobile Monday Brisbane events in 2015, stay tuned to @momobne on Twitter.

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