Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mob4Hire's 2010 Mobile Predictions

At the end of 2009, as we celebrate a year of mobile innovation and growth, we thought we'd throw our hat into the ring with some brave predictions for the industry in 2010. Next year at this time, we'll have a look back and see how we did. Thanks to all our customers, testers, and partners for making this such as great year for Mob4Hire and for crowd-sourced testing ... we're doing great things together! This list was put together by myself, Stephen King (Mob4Hire CEO), Paul Poutanen (President and Founder), and John Carpenter (CTO). On behalf of everyone at Mob4Hire, Happy Holidays and a Preposterous New Year! We'll see you in 2010!
  1. Google launches their own phone. Ok, that one is a given considering the blogosphere is buzzing with pictures of the device given out to the staff, but still, it hasn’t been officially launched in 2009. We think they'll be four Google branded handsets in market by next Christmas. Look for Google to explore it's own data network, too ... using Google Voice to provide a full phone without the need for a carrier connection
  2. Android will stall. Android will have a great start in Christmas 2009 (the Verizon Droid will do well) but will fizzle in the latter half of 2010. Two things are happening in the Android space. One: their new phone(s) will challenge their existing handset partner relationships, and certainly make any new partnerships more difficult. Two: due to it’s open architecture, splinters of Android O/S are already beginning to show up and developers will face yet another fragmented O/S (that nobody is documenting, I might add). This will make developers think twice about writing software for an increasingly expensive-to-develop-for platform that doesn't have that much worldwide penetration comparatively speaking.
  3. Get ready for lots more devices. Apple, Nokia/Microsoft and Google (via Android) and dozens of others will all make pushes into consumer connected devices like PNDs and netbooks. They will make great christmas gifts next year. Likewise Acer, Dell, Lenovo will make a push towards connected laptops and smartphones. The line between smartphones and netbooks will be increasingly smaller. More handsets creates more fragmentation as does more os’s, more device integration, more widgets, and more carrier proprietary API's all of which makes it harder for developers to create apps. By the end of 2010, we believe there will be more than 1,000,000 mobile apps that will not only target mobile handsets but mobile enabled notebooks as well. Look for very specific content opportuities; i.e. apps targetting stamp collectors or GPS assisted astronomy. We are in the long tail and the tail is getting longer.
  4. Next Christmas, it will be all about Microsoft in mobile. They will get Windows 7 right for mobile phones and offer unparalleled connection of mobile apps to desktop and Saas software/data following their success of Windows 7 for Desktop. This will be of great interest to enterprise developers who are waiting for a more tightly integrated platform into back-end office data. If they do it right, Microsoft can leverage their existing army of developers already programming in Microsoft tools. They are the only major mobile O/S that OEM's can deal with that doesn’t also compete with it’s own mobile hardware (see #1 and #2). Microsoft's renewed success will be at the expense of Sybmian, who stands to regain some share in 2011 as the low end smartphone market (Asia and Africa) heats up in 2011 and 2012, as long as they deliver on their open strategy.
  5. Palm will be acquired. Nokia (or RIM) is the likely suspect. Nokia is slumping in it’s smartphone business. Palm has got great hardware and software but won’t deliver on sales expectations due to intense competition. However, combined with Nokia’s distribution, marketing and manufacturing engine, it could easily beat iPhone and Blackberry sales worldwide. Symbian will persist as the O/S of choice for low-end phones. What of Maeomo? Kill it. I’d suggest taking the best netbook features out of Maeomo and add it to the Palm O/S to augment it’s functionality for that segment, then make Palm your flagship O/S. RIM is an outside shot at purchasing PALM, looking to bolster it's consumer product lines to further differentiate it's experience
  6. M&A in telecoms will accelerate. Smaller carriers will get consumed by mid-range and large players as they fail to meet the demand for smartphone and data infrastructure. Other networks will get so busy Application developer companies will be bought up as well as well as mobile analytic firms and infrastructure/middleware/porting plays. Watch for big players to make a move into the 4G WiMax/LTE networks.
  7. The need for a better Mobile 2.0 web experience happens WAY quicker than anyone expects. Many corporations, who are all very pleased with themselves for finally figuring out their web eCommerce strategy, are faced with a new challenge that has caught them completely unprepared: mobile websites. Many firms don’t even know what % of people are surfing to their site from mobile browsers; but I expect it is at least 10% to 20% ... and they are having a terrible user experience. This is creating a large opportunity for mobile web development consulting companies.
  8. Mobile advertising will be somewhat disappointing in 2010. There's more to be made here, but ultimately, mobile advertising is not about banner ads or adsense type click through ads. The story next year is that mobile advertising is about Apps for Advertising ... apps created by media agencies and companies to get consumers integrated in their brand experience… the ones that will be most sticky will have co-ordinated mobile app, web and traditional media marketing campaigns. This is another significant growth opportunity for developers.
  9. RIMs service woes will continue. This will impact their bottom line. Likely you will see a continued growth with the deployment of their 5.0 OS but not as much as people would hope for. Look for Nokia and Windows to make a big push into to the enterprise messaging market. Focusing on big commercial and government clients first. Even though this gives RIM two battle fronts to fight (enterprise and consumer), they’ll be up to the fight … look for some strong moves from RIM earlier in the year to get ready for it (see # 7).
  10. Apple will surprise us again. This year their iFridge will invade our kitchens.