Gartner – From Wow to Shallow Thinking on Mobile Futures

November 20, 2009

in Mobility, Strategic Foresight

First seen by me in ConsumerReports on my iPhone! Gartner has produced a list to  suggest where is mobile going “Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Consumer Mobile Applications for 2012” I’ve cut down the details – left some of their comments and added some of my own thoughts. There are a few additional predictions in their summary writeup. I’ve also added my own “areas”at the bottom of the list that I don’t think they have covered or perhaps simply take for granted. Then maybe my adds are the area’s represented by “killer applications” and real opportunity? I started reading it and thinking “wow list” and finished thinking “shallow list”.

No. 1: Money Transfer
This service allows people to send money to others using Short Message Service (SMS).
(SH: It’s not just money transfer it is also making payments which have been split below. The biggest opportunity is helping the third world save, budget, and achieve wealth goals. The mobile when you add banking to it becomes an explicit device for weath creation. It is much more than a wallet at that point even if the banking is all done via SMS)

No. 2: Location-Based Services

Location-based services (LBS) form part of context-aware services, a service that Gartner expects will be one of the most disruptive in the next few years. Gartner predicts that the LBS user base will grow globally from 96 million in 2009 to more than 526 million in 2012.
(SH: this is one I am nost interested in. Twitter is on the cusp of opening this space up. Real-Time Mobile Social Classified will be HUGE. It is the behavior changes that we have to begin understanding right now!)

No. 3: Mobile Search

The ultimate purpose of mobile search is to drive sales and marketing opportunities on the mobile phone.
(I don’t like this statement. May be great for the enterprise client but I don’t see it the same way. Yes mobile search is important. However I’d put the ability to share a link or pass on information as even more important. Or get information from people in your vicinity. Thus add in community, add in social. I don’t think we will spend our time googling unless we have agents in our pocket which will also filter what’s relevant. Now that’s an opportunity.

No. 4: Mobile Browsing
Mobile browsing is a widely available technology present on more than 60 percent of handsets shipped in 2009, a percentage Gartner expects to rise to approximately 80 percent in 2013.
(SH – well yes and any business that doesn’t have a mobile browsing strategy or an APP strategy will probably be missing the boat by 2013. Still, what I think this is about is.. it will be easier than ever to read and review things from a mobile device. By 2012 many top end devices will also have small projection capabilities and so the whole viewing experience will have many more options while on the move. People read email or SMS on crappy mobiles out of necessity. People use a Kindle on the iPhone or read the NYTimes because it fill a different need.)

No. 5: Mobile Health Monitoring
Mobile health monitoring is the use of IT and mobile telecommunications to monitor patients remotely, and could help governments, care delivery organizations (CDOs) and healthcare payers reduce costs related to chronic diseases and improve the quality of life of their patients.
(SH: Find it harder to comment here. Yes the opportunity is great. The Nokia Data Gathering project was one of the best pilots I’ve seen so far – outbreak prevention.)

No. 6: Mobile Payment
Gartner’s top 10 list because of the number of parties it affects — including mobile carriers, banks, merchants, device vendors, regulators and consumers —
(There are at least 3 banking areas listed here as next we have NFC. While there are many regulatory issues there is also plenty of discussion emerging around alternative money systems where “trust” is established in a different way. Mobile money will emerge with very low transaction costs in the end. This is certainly the area for some wildcard scenarios and thinking out of the box. Nothing will build a business faster than taking out the current costs and charges related to banking which are completely onerous for billions of people that remain unbanked as a result./

No. 7: Near Field Communication Services

Near field communication (NFC) allows contactless data transfer between compatible devices by placing them close to each other, within ten centimeters.
(I probably wouldn’t even place this on the list. The business argument for creating efficiencies and using the phone in this way are interesting but rollout could take years and years. I don’t see a compelling user benefit in this story other than I never need to get my wallet out. Then I could just as easily have an app for that etc. I suspect this is a hard sell and that is also why it won’t be in the US anytime soon.

No. 8: Mobile Advertising
Mobile advertising in all regions is continuing to grow through the economic downturn, driven by interest from advertisers in this new opportunity and by the increased use of smartphones and the wireless Internet.
(As I get down this list I am coming to understand it more. It’s not focused on me at all rather on businesses and how to get leverage. Businesses that apply an adversting model to mobile are in my view more likely to fail. Businesses that become more transparent, more helpful, more accessible, and more useful are likely to be incorporated into my notification systems. Yes we will have ads and they will be embraced in the third world where heck if you never had a TV then ads could even be fun and infomercials helpful)

No. 9: Mobile Instant Messaging
Price and usability problems have historically held back adoption of mobile instant messaging (IM), while commercial barriers and uncertain business models have precluded widespread carrier deployment and promotion. Mobile IM is on Gartner’s top 10 list because of latent user demand and market conditions that are conducive to its future adoption. It has a particular appeal to users in developing markets that may rely on mobile phones as their only connectivity device. Mobile IM presents an opportunity for mobile advertising and social networking, which have been built into some of the more advanced mobile IM clients.
(SH: The sad sad dimension is the price gauging that goes on particularly in the Western world and the pricing structure that continues to exist in the US. SMS is the ultimate way for carriers to participate in “signaling” users and for that matter filtering data on their behalf. Carriers can even give limited web access by using the SMS as a smart pipe enabling (sending) URL’s that are browseable even when the user doesn’t subscribe to a data plan (they can be invisible etc). It is the single smartest method to introduce the “internet experience” to non internet users. It’s the carrier plan to make users want more. It’s not hurt by WAP etc. It enables smart services. It can enable “slow downloads in the background” and a myriad of other opportunities. SMS is SMS. SmartSMS is a selected delivery channel for paid content.

No. 10: Mobile Music
Mobile music so far has been disappointing — except for ring tones and ring-back tones, which have turned into a multibillion-dollar service.
(SH: Yes entertainment is huge. Music and video is huge. Making money on mobile music… no way based on current pricing plans. Yet there are many other opportunities. Eg listening on music that is being played around you in the vicinity.

So these are all areas that I think are incredibly important that Gartner fails to identify. Ultimately they are going to matter.

1. Identity – My sense of identity is changing and my devices and how I manage access to me is changing. I may use numbers but increasingly it is my name or directory listing that matters. I don’t want to provide a stupid callerID. I want to augment my call setup with “Context” or even send context before connecting. A single identity is also no longer acceptable for me. I may expose myself differently at different times. This is another reason why we may not always want to use our mobile number as our payment or bank number. There will be a cash equivalent.

2. Directories There are too many who continue to focus on my “contacts” in my phone. My contacts long ago fragmented and are in different directory services which may or may not be integrated, insync, or related to details i have for them in my mobile contact list. Even search for a contact in the future may be different. Let me customize that to the identity/directory services that I use. The idea of a singular directory may be done. Even within these external directories we have groups and lists emerging. We also carry many more entries now that we ever used to. In fact the Lifestream will probably ultimately provide that most useful of functions. Recent Calls. When calls go into the lifestream recent calls will be redefined. Whether that is public or a private lifestream.

3. Signals I made comments re SMS above and anyone studying the Apple Notification service or APPs that are managing the service will see the opportunity. The notification service is my agent and filter and will become more sophisticated overtime. There are many new monetary models to be created around it. Plenty of wildcards and some certainties from my perspective. When you look at an iPhone today for all the different pings, and rings for one fully active with notifications, sms updates, email, calls ringing etc… the device can become quite a busy device. I will also want those notifications read to me… in my ear… And I will want voice response.

4. Voice: Why is it Gartner misses Voice? I find this one hard to believe. Voice to Text.. Text to Voice etc. Businesses need to understand that this is part of the same action. Don’t believe me then talk to the Voxeo guys.. that’s a team that gets it. Add in all the implications for customer service and call-back etc.

5. Knowledge Sharing and Social Networks: Won’t even bother to mention these here now… Mobile is changing these behaviors too. Faster than many think.

Okay, for now I’m done on this. Gartner said “Gartner listed applications based on their impact on consumers and industry players, considering revenue, loyalty, business model, consumer value and estimated market penetration.” They issued it as a press release. This is supposed to get them business and help their influence. The world is more complicated than  this 10 point list. My opinions are also just my opinions and not framed around any focal issue or decision that company X or Y might make. The trends are usually wrong and there still needs to be a lot more out of the box thinking to really succeed. Who do you go to for your mobile strategy? What approach are you taking? Start with the users and not the technology!

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