Smartphones Market Trends

Smartphones are part of our everyday reality. If you want to order a pizza, book a flight

Smartphones are part of our everyday reality. If you want to order a pizza, book a flight ticket, hunt a job or connect to friends you can just do it with these high tech devices.  Furthermore, for companies they are an excellent tool to engage clients in real time.

Mobile devices allow to access applications with a higher level of personalization than Web and Desktop applications, for example applications that base their functionality around the current location of the user.

Mobile applications are characterized by covering one specific functionality, with simple and define interfaces. Applications categories include: online shopping, travel, finances, internet, communications, music, among others. Many of the most popular web-based applications such as Gmail, Google maps and Skype already have their version for mobile devices.

There are many mobile platforms and each one has different versions. The market is fragmented and this increases the cost for developing multiplatforms applications. Though the emergence of new technologies like PhoneGap  took a step forward to the unification of an environment and to the reduction of that cost, allowing to develop applications that run in the most popular platforms (Android, ios, Blackberry) even iPads and tablets.

A good software development company must keep a close eye on the latest markets trends regarding mobile apps, as it is crucial to know where the market is heading so you can coach your engineers in the latest technologies and next generations of cutting edge mobile tools. In its annual mobile technology report Forrester predicted some trends for the year 2011:

1) Mobile/Social/Local Combinations will Explode but will Generate Little Revenue
Everyone is getting into mobile/social/local services these days from Facebook to Google and Amazon to Groupon. But while the number and usage of these services will increase, these services won ´t generate meaningful revenue in 2011.

2) 2011 is the Year of the “Dumb” Smartphone User
Smartphones will become more affordable, thanks to handset subsidies. These new users will be less engaged and active than smartphone early adopters. They’ll download fewer apps on average, but will consume more mobile media thanks to consumer education and convenience provided by the phones. Anyway the overall app forecast is still good. In fact, Gartner released a report that stated mobile app store revenue will pass $15 billion in 2011.

3) The Mobile Fragmentation Problem will Continue
Forrester says it expects fragmentation to continue, but it’s not just referring to the multiple variations of a single OS. It means that some customers have smartphones, some have feature phones, some use apps, some use SMS, plus there are multiple OS’s in existence, in multiple versions, with multiple screen sizes and there are a higher number of devices out there. In short: fragmentation. The costs of porting, maintaining and promoting apps will remain high.

4) The “Apps vs. Internet” Debate Will Continue…to be Irrelevant
It’s not a question of “either/or” when it comes to a choice between apps vs. the mobile Web, but both. Frequent and intense users of services like banking and brokerage will want curated experiences in the form of apps, but the Internet will remain the fallback for more occasional information and needs. Mobile developers frustrated with the costs of building mobile apps for multiple platforms should rely more on the Web. Even if HTML5 doesn’t scale within the next years, mobile browsing experiences are improving.

5) Mobile Marketing Spend will Surpass $1 Billion
Marketer will begin allocating dedicated resources to mobile in 2011. In the U.S., Forrester forecasts that marketing spend on mobile display ads and search will surpass $1 billion.

6) The Attention to 4G will Vastly Outweigh the Impact of 4G Networks
More operators will launch 4G networks in 2011 to a lot of buzz, but Forrester says to ignore the hype. 4G will have as little impact as 3G had when it launched in Europe and the U.S. in 203. It took nearly 7 years for half of mobile subscribers in those regions to have 3G capable phones, says the firm. Expect similar trends for 4G.

7) Casual Gaming Will Continue to Boom
Smartphones have become powerful gaming devices for the mass market and this trend will continue. New business models based on subscriptions, microtransactions and in-app billing will expand from the games category into others, like music and news.

8 ) “Mobile” Will Mean More than Mobile Phones
Consumer adoption of tablets, eReaders, portable media devices and other mobile products has grown in 2010 and this will continue in 2011. Apps and services will need to work across devices and consumers will want ubiquitous access to content and services.  This will force service providers to sync content via the cloud to maintain a consistent experience across platforms.
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