In a recent post, my colleague Julie Ask and I examined what happened in the mobile space in 2010. In a new report, we are highlighting what we expect the key trends to be in 2011. While we believe that most of the trends identified last year will continue throughout the year ahead, here’s a snapshot of more specific trends that will shape the market in 2011.
• The mobile/social/local combo will explode in usage but generate little revenue.
• 2011 will be the year of the “dumb” smartphone user. Thanks to handset subsidies, smartphones will be available to the masses. Expect new smartphone users to be less engaged and active than the first cohorts of Android and iPhone early adopters. The good news is that thanks to customer education and the convenience that these devices offer, even “dumb” smartphone users will consume more mobile media than ever before and will have incremental usage of mobile data!
• The mobile fragmentation problem will continue in 2011. Prioritizing mobile developments will still be a challenge, and cross-platform development has not yet been achieved successfully.
• The apps versus mobile Internet debate will continue — and remain irrelevant. This isn’t a question of either/or — but both.
• Mobile marketing spend will grow significantly and surpass $1 billion in the US as consumers spend billions via mobile. For more information, Forrester clients should read our US mobile marketing predictions.
• Mobile will increasingly prompt consumers to interact with their physical environment. Technologies such as QR codes and mobile augmented reality are already helping bridge the real and digital worlds via mobile devices. 2011 is — finally — the year that Near Field Communication (NFC) begins to matter. The market will finally move away from the trial stage in regions where NFC infrastructure is in place.
• The attention paid to 4G will vastly outweigh the impact of these new networks. Despite the current buzz about US carriers’ efforts, the service will primarily, if not exclusively, be available on USB keys; few LTE devices will be available for consumers before the end of the year.
• Companies will invest first in convenient services for customers; acquisition will come second. In the hierarchy of benefits that mobile offers — revenue generation, cost savings, and convenience — convenience will reign for the next year. However, for some industries, particularly in the retail space, we expect more and more companies to reach seven figures in direct mobile transactions.
• Casual gaming will continue to lead the mobile charge for content companies. Forrester has already highlighted how media companies have some of the most advanced mobile strategies. Several news publishers that Forrester spoke with expect mobile to represent more than 20% of their total online audience. While they don’t expect advertisers to follow consumers that quickly, they will need to generate new revenue streams. Expect new business models based on subscriptions, microtransactions, and in-application billing to expand from gaming to other content categories, such as news and music.
• The term “mobile” will mean a lot more than mobile phones. Consumers are connecting more and more devices wirelessly to the Internet. The recent CES show in Las Vegas showed that competitors’ answers to the first Apple iPad are now available and that tablets will emerge as category of their own in the years to come. Forrester clients can read recent analysis from our colleague Sarah Rotman Epps on why tablets will grow as quickly as MP3 players. However, only mobile phones will sell in the hundreds of millions and are truly “pocketable,” providing anywhere, anytime connectivity.
The path of mobile innovation is accelerating like never before; there are, of course, other areas where we expect to see lots of news and improvements — in particular around mobile measurement and mobile analytics. If you want to react to these trends or share your take, feel free to comment below or to join our discussion on the CPS community.
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