Monday, February 01, 2010

Predictions for 2010

The first Mobile Monday Edinburgh of the year focussed on the attendees' predictions for the key trends, opportunities and issues affecting mobile in 2010 - and in some cases beyond! This was in part inspired by Rudy De Waele's excellent Mobile Trends 2020 compilation.
  • Garry Irvine of Connected Day started us off by a simple prediction that the iPad will have a disruptive effect on the marketplace.
  • Richard Marshall of Rapid Mobile noted that there is an ongoing huge increase in smartphones in the market in Europe, but that the entrenched nature of the platforms means that this will lead to more fragmentation, not less.
  • Alisdair Gunn of Wireless Innovation views the education sector together with the move of traditional print publishing into mobile as being a key combination - with the children in the schools very much leading the way driving the uptake of new approaches and models.
  • Ben Hounsell of nio predicted the continued rise of web based platforms (e.g. Palm WebOS, HTML5 widgets, etc) as developers seek to avoid the fragmentation predicted by Richard.
  • Rachel Lane of Blonde optimistically predicted an increased understanding of the mobile usage characteristics of the actual audience of mobile apps and services, as well as noting that mobile is simply an extension of the user's existing digital activity.
  • Jessica Williamson of nio and StartupCafe predicted an increased prevalence of and more sophisticated use of sensors to allow the phone to detect its environment and thus provide context sensitive behaviour. In particular she hopes by years end that her phone will be able to tell when she is in a bad mood and warn her friends to avoid her ...
  • Alan Paxton of Isomaly succinctly stated that in 2010 mobile is now in the mainstream - not a niche any more.
  • Gordon Povey of Artillium noted that in Benelux in particular there is an upswing in the number of MVNOs, and that they are more open to taking risks with cool and innovative new services than the traditional telcos - though he conceded that this isn't currently happening in the UK. He also predicted that more sophisticated mobile app revenue models will start to become truly viable this year - e.g. freemium etc
  • David Richardson of Edinburgh University Informatics expressed a frustration with the large number of companies who want to engage with mobile but don't understand it - an iPhone app is not always the answer - needs to address the mainstream.
  • Ronnie Forbes of Mobiqa felt that geolocation will be a key trend this year. He also stated that it is ridiculous that you need to buy apps from the company who sells you the device - and somewhat contentiously stated that App Stores are a passing fad.
  • Graham West of Mobiqa stated that mobile web will overtake J2ME this year, with web tech used to create an app like experience for the end user. He also predicted that this will not be the year for NFC.
  • Adrian Williamson predicted that this will be the year that end users start to volunteer to pay for content they really want - shaking up the publishing value chain and freeing the industry from the "everything is free" days of the internet.
  • Annette Leonhard of Edinburgh University Informatics noted that for many of the big ideas in mobile to succeed data coverage needs to be ubiquitous, reliable, and affordable, including international roaming.
  • Paul Wilson of Edgecase will be interested to see how the iPad blurs the distinctions between mobile and personal computing, and between the traditional and mobile web.
  • Adrian Astley-Jones of Reality Gap agreed with Ben and Graham that this will be a key year for growing mass market acceptance of the mobile Internet.
  • Jim Wolff of the Leith Agency predicted a massive rise in the number of "personal apps" based on tech such as iSites. In digital marketing he predicted a move away from simple gimmicks such as iPint, into branded utility apps that will have longer term traction.
  • Anthony Ashbrook of Mobile Acuity notes the start of a trend away from simple textual search and towards visual search on mobile - with many examples ranging from simple barcodes, through AR, into Google Goggles, Amazon remembers, and Nokia Point and Find.
My own prediction is rather more general and is about how real people (normob - not promob) perceive their mobile devices. I see this as moving away from being about simple communications towards being pervasive connected computing - perhaps towards the form predicted by Ian M Banks in his Culture SF novels.

Interestingly the reaction from the majority promob in the room was one of "so what, that is already here". My observation would be that isn't yet true for the majority, but perhaps by the end of the year we will see the same reaction there too? Only time will tell!

PS. Carnival #209 is up over at WAP Review.