8 trends define the future of mobile

By Mark Challinor

Media Futures Consultancy

London, United Kingdom


Smartphones have brought the world innovative change and altered the way we all work, shop, and communicate. During 2020 and 2021 (the main COVID-19 period), many different technological developments influenced how the future of such technology will shape our lives.

According to Statista, there are currently nearly 4 billion smartphone users worldwide. It has been predicted that this will continue to increase year by year.

So, as we look to the future of mobile, let’s help ourselves do that by first looking at the trends affecting this environment in the current year. This may channel our thinking as to what will happen in the future.

There are an estimated 4 billion smartphone users in the world today.
There are an estimated 4 billion smartphone users in the world today.

There are essentially, eight main developments worth noting this year and as we look toward 2022.

1. Voice

More than one in four people (21.6%) use voice search on their devices at least once a day, while 26.7% it at least once a week, according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. mobile phone users done in January by Web site consultancy firm HigherVisibility. Nearly 29% never use a voice assistant, but the potential here could be huge.

The biggest advantage is that it’s easier to use voice than type. But for technology giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple, it’s also a chance to learn more about the user and offer intelligent, smart recommendations and results.

Voice is also the best way for us to interact with the billions of Internet-connected items that are forecast to come online in the next few years, from refrigerators to new wearables. Google, Apple, and Amazon could potentially be on these devices in the form of voice assistants. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, Amazon stole the show, with its voice assistant Alexa, which was integrated with many devices.

We might find a rise of devices like the Amazon Echo speaker or Google Home as well as new wearables, home robots, and nearly every other device in cities and houses connected to the Internet. But this does not make the smartphone obsolete like many have predicted. The smartphone will still be at the centre of people’s lives; it may just have a new role.

Innovation in smartphones will come in areas where it can play a role in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), and that’s still very much in the centre. Don’t be surprised if in five years your smartphones looks the same, but all of a sudden you’re talking to them a lot more and they are able to control more of your Internet-connected lives.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning

It has been predicted that these technologies will accelerate the growth of businesses enormously.

The combination of AI with mobile saves businesses money and enhances user engagement. In 2021, many businesses choose to integrate AI-powered chatbots in their apps, and the usage of such apps is increasing constantly. AI in mobile apps helps take control of monotonous work efficiently and provides personalised, frictionless customer experiences.

3. Chatbots and electronic assistants

Many businesses are beginning to prefer using chatbots in business-related mobile apps, as it helps in expanding the customer experience and enabling 24/7 services to customers.

According to Grand View Research, the chatbot market size is predicted to reach around US$1.25 billion by 2025. PayPal and Uber are just two major organisations that are grasping this important technology that is crucial for around-the-clock customer engagement.

4. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The ever-increasing number of mobile devices benefits our control of smart appliances and gadgets. Mobile apps powered by IoT, for instance, allow us to connect smartwatches and other wearables to our smartphones.

The worldwide spending on IoT is projected to reach US$1.1 trillion (yes, trillion) by 2022.

5. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Offerings using VR and AR technologies are already creating amazing experiences for mobile users and helping companies increase sales. And this is just the beginning.

In many industries such as health/medical, tourism, and marketing, AR and VR are used for training work and customer applications. Ever since Apple SDK started allowing developers to use AR within its App Store apps, the use has mushroomed. Watch out for increasingly creative and engaging ways using these technologies in the future as they become more intuitive and accessible without the need for headsets and special glasses.

6. Blockchain technology

Blockchain is one of the famous mobile trends. This technology can be integrated into mobile apps to increase security features, tracking, and quality controls.

Various payment apps prefer using blockchain technology for more secure and faster transactions. According to JPMorgan, by 2025, global blockchain technology revenue (in size) is expected to reach US$40 billion. This allows us to perform verification checks on customers without depending on any third-parties as the source of any record can be tracked with the chain. This could well be useful for secure and dynamic media subscriptions in the future.

7. Mobile 5G

5G technology is the latest “upgrade” in the mobile world that will increase our agility and responsiveness of any wireless interfaces and devices. Data is transmitted over the wireless broadband at incredible speeds. Download a movie, for example, in a few seconds rather than minutes.

By 2024, it is predicted there will be around 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide, enabling much faster, more valued user experiences. This is one of the top technology trends in mobile in watch.

8. Mobile commerce

M-commerce is used on mobile devices to manage huge amounts of transactions online, including buying and selling products and online banking. COVID accelerated an already fast-growing area, and the use of m-commerce is growing day-by-day. That’s why many developers prefer using this technology in mobile apps. We’ve all seen “in-app purchase” on many occasions, haven’t we?

Again, this offers much better user experiences, location tracking, and personalised notifications. Of course, m-commerce technology is widely used by brands like eBay, Amazon, and Starbucks.

Looking ahead

These technologies can help your media business. They will not only help your organisation make the correct decisions, but they will also help you boost productivity and, ultimately, revenue and profits. It’s all about the experience.

For many years I have talked at INMA conferences amongst others about the power of mobile and how my equation for the future can be defined as Creativity + Data + Technology = Better Experiences. Wrap “mobile” around that equation, and we get a glimpse into the future.

Mobile is now integrated into all we do. It is very much a part of the mix in multi-platform campaigns and is a powerful engagement tool. With developments such as voice, chatbots, 5G, m-payments, and other mobile-related technologies as highlighted above, we see a “mobile future” that is more immersive, more engaging, more intuitive, and, ultimately, more profitable.

About Mark Challinor

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