2016 Tech Trends: Of Mobiles, Wearables, and the Internet of Things
Global smartphone penetration has already surpassed the human population. According to Steve French, global vice president at AmDocs’ OpenMarket, 90 percent of consumers these days own a mobile phone while 30 percent have tablets. Even in emerging markets, revenue from technology trends like mobile money, mobile health, and cloud services are expected to more than double by 2017 and reach $272 billion. The smartphone subscriber base continues to expand to include more low- and middle-class consumers, largely due to the proliferation of cheaper smartphones.
With the rate that technology is evolving these days, it is difficult to predict what would come next. The functionality of various devices ranging from laptops to smartphones are moving into numerous and different directions, opening up worlds of opportunities with each gigantic step. Here are some of the trends that are shaping the mobile tech industry this year thus far.
Thanks to Google’s Mobilegeddon, companies are now more aware of the necessity of having a mobile-centric website. Service delivery is no longer the mere end goal, as user experience (UX) is being given equal importance through screen-agnostic experience and broader platform integration.
“Apps are increasingly becoming experiences that live across multiple endpoints—from wearables to phones, tablets, and web applications,” said Sravish Sridhar, founder and CEO of Kinvey. These days, it’s all about seamless and optimized UX.
Take Born2Invest, a business and finance news mobile app, as an example. One of its key differentiators from its competitors is its uncluttered interface, which allows for a smooth UX. Every app page consists of a video or image, a headline, and up to 80 words of news summary. Users can jump from one summary to another by swiping left and right without scrolling required.
“With this business app, we aim to become a dominant player in the business news production and syndication space,” said Dom Einhorn, Born2Invest founder. With his mobile-first deployment mindset, he just might be able to do that.
Emerging markets are still just warming up to the everyday use of smartphones. For developed markets, however, the fun now lies in wearables, a brand new phase in mobile tech.
There’s the Apple Watch, whose early sales surpassed even those of the original iPhone and iPad. There’s also Google Glass, which became a hit in the business sector. Many mobile and wearable devices are entering health and nutrition monitoring, such as smart watches, smart armbands, and even smart shirts. These devices can generate real-time data regarding your body, from stress levels to workout stats.
IDTechEx has predicted that the wearable technology market will triple over the next 10 years, from $24 billion to $72 billion. “The future will be very different because it will involve the use of new types of electronics—namely thin, conformal, flexible, invisible, distributed, and textile-integrated components that are just beginning to emerge from research labs,” said IDTechEx CEO Raghu Das.
Internet of Things
If wearables have made a significant mark this year, then the Internet of Things (IoT) is more like a revolution. According to Mobile World Congress, the world is entering “the age of smart everything,” from smart tennis rackets and toothbrushes to smart homes and cars. Machine-to-machine connectivity and the IoT have the potential to disrupt many industries as it creates an opportunity to gain greater access to real-time data and insights into consumers’ lives—critical to predicting demand.
The smart home sector is perhaps one of the most awaited when it comes to IoT. Right now, there’s Apple’s HomeKit and Thread Group’s wireless networking protocol competing against each other.
“Expect these two camps to furiously court developers into their ecosystems,” said Coby Sella, CEO at Sansa Security. “No matter which protocol becomes the de facto standard, telcos and service providers such as Comcast and AT&T, and alarms-systems companies such as ADT, will have to make sure everything they deploy works with both.”
Connected vehicles will also be able to generate real-time data, seamless interactions, and access to e-Commerce for consumers. According to engineering consultant Stu Lipoff, “Today’s traffic-aware GPS will evolve to providing in-vehicle Wi-Fi and enhanced location-aware, pushed information services downloaded to the vehicle.”
Midway through 2015, smartphones and mobile tablets remain to be the most used devices in the market. But developers are quickly branching out, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the year ends with more wearables and smart devices proliferating the market.