The transition from desktop computer to handheld device has helped shape the way we communicate, share information and complete daily tasks, and that's had a profound effect on how marketers reach their customers and prospects. With that in mind, what does the mobile channel have in store in 2014? Rishu Mandolia, lead mobile instructor at the Digital Professional Institute, shares his predictions for where the future of mobile is headed:
- Intelligent Apps Will Offer Personalized Experiences
In 2013 services helped users collect and track their interests and behaviors, from what foods you eat to the articles you like. 2014 should see companies leverage this data to make intelligent apps provide more value—better recommendations, actionable statistics and more.
- Phones Become a Healthier Lifestyle Coach
While we already have apps that track how well you have slept, how much you exercised and the calories you consumed, this year companies will combine this information to help with better decision-making. "This trend will be especially apparent when combined with the growth in smartphone sensors and wearable technology," says Mandolia.
- Routine Chores Become a Game
Adding entertainment to routine activities offers a successful way to motivate people—and smartphones are well-equipped to help. Mandolia notes, "More services will emerge that track your progress automatically and offer creative ways to execute goals, while offering different types of incentives."
- Companies Improve Individualized Marketing
The same data that can help companies provide users with a more personalized experience will also be used to further target promotions and advertising. "Expect more mobile ads that leverage your data to provide offers that are relevant to your lifestyle," warns Mandolia.
- Wearable Technology Shifts to Mainstream
The generation of wearable devices is emerging with everything from health trackers to smart watches and glasses. In the coming year, expect to see a significant portion of the smartphone-owning population own at least one connected wearable device.
- Retail Locations Utilizing Mobile Technology
Mobile technology will continue to become a widespread adoption for retailers. Mobile checkouts will become more prevalent as well as the inclusion of new low-cost technology like iBeacons that can communicate with phones within 50 meters as well as help users determine their precise location indoors (think interactive maps within malls that offer real-time updates and notifications).
- Cars Feature Deeper Mobile Connectivity
In 2014, cars will go beyond USB charging and music playback to include more direct access to phone functionality and control directly from the car. "Apple's iOS in the Car (iOSitC) is expected this year, and others should not be far behind," says Mandolia. "Your phone should soon be moving from an ad-hoc connection with the car to feeling like an actually part of the vehicle."
- The Phone Becomes an Active Controller
The disconnect between mobile phones, tablets and TVs will begin to vanish as more network programmers encourage viewers to connect in real-time on their mobile devices for a more immersive experience. Additionally, new internet connected TVs and video streaming boxers are supporting mobile as a powerful way to control and interact with the device and content.
- Mobile Makes More Inroads into Education
Mobile devices, especially tablets, are becoming common in different levels of education. "We should start seeing more creative applications of these devices, with entire curriculums build around electronic delivery utilizing mobile as a cornerstone," says Mandolia.
- Augmented Reality Arrives, Virtual Reality Lingers
Augmented reality technology and applications in mobile have been around for years, but few services have used them beyond gimmicks or novelties. As Google's Glass and other similar products start becoming affordable available to consumers, we'll start seeing the new wave of apps built around augmented reality. The first virtual reality headsets should hit the market in 2014 as well, though mobile applications may be few initially.
Carolyn Blackman is vice president of Chicago-based Empower Public Relations. Reach her at email@example.com.