Published on February 27, 2014
Mobile Trends 2014 Industry briefing From mega-mergers to wearable tech, data privacy to an overdue boost in battery performance, here are ten trends set to shape the wireless industry in 2014. Compiled by WDS, A Xerox Company. Technology Services Consulting
WDS Mobile Trends 2014 Mobile Trends 2014 At the beginning of each year we put our reputation on the line to identify 10 key trends we expect to shape the mobile industry over the coming 12 months. Contents Sure, we don’t get everything right…but last year our view of Android’s broader role in the consumer electronics industry, the continued relevance of feature phones and a slow-down in patent litigation have all rung-true to a certain extent. To kick off 2014 we’ve compiled a fresh set of predictions. Some will be familiar; others may take you by surprise. Of course we welcome your comments. Let us know if you agree or disagree with this year’s list. @wdscompany wdscompany wds.co/blog wdspodcast 5 Smartphone manufacturers flex their muscles 7 iOS and Android hit the road 9 Chinese smartphones come of age 11 Sportswear manufacturers lead the charge in wearable tech 13 Your call is important to us 15 This is the fifth year we’ve run our annual trends and so far our predictions seem to have been on-target. Respect my privacy 17 Mega-mergers 19 Camera resolutions reignite the spec war 21 Batteries finally get a boost 23 Social sentiment improves decision making www.wds.co
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Smartphone manufacturers flex their muscles Mobile Trends “Flexible” 1 The form factor of today’s smartphone has stagnated, which makes the potential for flexible materials all the more exciting. It’s still early days and while we saw some interesting announcements in 2013, we don’t expect to see flagship devices sporting flexible displays this year. However, 2014 will be the year of experimentation with OEMs exploring curved devices, wrap-around screens, different shaped devices and devices that can flex. Some will be little more than a gimmick or designconcept, but by the end of the year we should have a better idea of the true benefits delivered by flexible components, and be ready for more serious contenders in 2015. Expect Asian brands to lead the charge on this technology with devices from LG and Samsung showing early innovation.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 iOS and Android hit the road Mobile Trends “Vrroom” 2 Hyundai, Kia, Tesla and Mini have already announced the integration of smartphone OS platforms in their upcoming launches and we expect this trend to spread like wild fire across the automotive industry. Today, automotive brands implement different proprietary OS platforms to power their in-car computers and multimedia systems. As such, they have a closed system that users can’t modify. By implementing smartphone OS platforms, automotive brands can expand the possibilities of interaction between the driver and the car. The two big contenders are iOS and Android, with both announcing automotive partnerships and development projects. Obvious (and immediate) benefits will focus on smarter multimedia applications for in-car entertainment, with music and video integrated closely with passenger devices, cloud storage accounts and content libraries. Also, look out for location and mapping applications as well as social check-ins. By next year, as the volume of connected cars increases, we’ll see the arrival of an entirely new app ecosystem; supporting the needs of the driver through entertainment, telemetry, navigation and more.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Chinese smartphones come of age Mobile Trends “China” 3 Chinese brands are hitting the market hard with impressive devices at very competitive price points. Historically, Chinese manufacturers have posed the greatest threat at the low-end of the smartphone market but this year we can expect to see increased competition at the high-end. However, despite highquality implementations and the latest specs, price will remain the primary weapon. As such, by the end of the year we expect that three of the top five smartphone manufacturers (by shipment volume) will be Chinese. In 2013 Samsung and Apple held their lead and we expect they will continue to do so in 2014. However, 3rd, 4th and 5th positions remain unsteady and by the end of 2014 we predict Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE will secure all three spots.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Sportswear manufacturers lead the charge in wearable tech Mobile Trends “Wearables” 4 Wearable tech was the buzzword of 2013, but this year we expect tech brands to step it up a gear and launch wearables designed to be worthy of a more discerning wish list. Like flexible displays, 2014 is perhaps a little too early for us to confidently predict a mass-market explosion of wearable tech. However, it will remain a key focus for many companies, attracting start-ups, investment and exploration by a wider ecosystem of brands. Of course, we’ll see continued innovation around high-profile products such as the Samsung Gear and Google Glass. However 2014 will see more innovative applications of biometric technology embedded within sportswear, with companies such as Nike, Apple and Fitbit leading the charge. More interesting will be how established clothing brands partner with technology brands. Will luxury brands embrace or reject the idea of wearable tech?
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Your call is important to us Mobile Trends “Smart” 5 Automated customer care and technical support will become more intelligent as several key technologies converge around the support industry. Being able to automate customer care and technical support has long held many promises for brands looking to reduce their support costs; and for customers wanting an efficient means of resolving a problem. However the reality has never quite lived up to the promise. Rambling IVR systems, overwhelming online knowledge bases and less-than-intelligent online support “avatars” have frustrated customers for years. However 2014 is the beginning of the end for these technologies as automated customer support gets turned on its head. Due to the cost of running traditional support environments (staffed by thousands of people) the support business is one of those industries that attracts a surprising amount of R&D investment. Today, a number of complementary technologies are beginning to mature and converge around the industry. Voice recognition, sentiment analysis, machine learning and natural language processing have all come of age to deliver more accurate, automated support solutions that could shave millions of dollars off a brand’s annual support bill. We’re talking about automated support interfaces able to understand the context of a question, identify sentiment and interpret a natural conversation while self-learning and factoring-in customer preferences (time of day, location, etc), to ensure a right-first-time solution.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Respect my privacy Mobile Trends “Privacy” 6 Technology brands are at the center of a privacy debate, caught between government protocol and their customers’ best interests. Privacy was a big issue in 2013. In particular, people began to understand just how much of their data was open to being monitored by government agencies around the world. Consumer sensitivity has since increased and it’s the tech brands that are hurting the most. “People won’t use technology they don’t trust,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, in a statement to the US Congress. “Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.” Brands including Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL and LinkedIn have joined Google and Microsoft in mounting a public campaign to limit government surveillance and protect their customers. We expect 2014 to bring greater transparency on the collection and usage of data as well as new functionality within well-known services that place privacy controls front-and-center, handing power back to the consumer.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Mega-mergers Mobile Trends “Fusion” 7 Mobile operators around the world will further consolidate in a bid to combat slow growth, increasing costs and shareholder demands. In 2013 we saw mass consolidation of the US market; AT&T bought Leap Wireless, T-Mobile bought MetroPCS, Softbank bought Sprint and Sprint bought out its remaining stake in Clearwire. In Europe, the year started with regulatory approval of a merger between Hutchinson and Orange in Austria by the European Commission; creating a highly concentrated Austrian mobile market. We also saw Telefonica buy E-Plus in Germany. Many have seen these deals as the start of something bigger; a more relaxed regulatory framework that has traditionally protected competition by maintaining consumer choice. While the US is likely to settle down in 2014, we predict a hotbed of activity in Europe with at least one non-European buyer looking to make its mark on the continent. Further afield, keep an eye on Africa where consolidation will be a viable (although difficult) means of improving returns for struggling mobile operators. Also, Australia’s large number of MVNOs is creating real pressure for consolidation.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Camera resolutions reignite the spec war Mobile Trends “Smile” 8 In the early days of the smartphone, camera resolutions were at the center of the spec-war. It was a key differentiator in a sea of identi-kit devices. By 2012 things had begun to settle down and resolutions normalized between 8-12 megapixels. Then, in 2013, Nokia bought us a feat of engineering genius with a 41 megapixels camera phone (the Nokia Lumia 1020); and the race was back on. We have already seen Sony deliver a 20.7 megapixel camera in its flagship Xperia Z1 and the likes of Samsung and Apple are expected to deliver significant improvements on their current camera specs, each sporting cameras in the region of 20 megapixels. However, for 2014 at least, we expect that smartphone cameras with 30+ megapixels will reside within a niche segment of the market, rather than in key flagship devices. As smartphone cameras move beyond the pointand-shoot market and into something a little more serious, we should also expect improvements to camera software with greater control over exposure, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focus. Likewise expect optical image stabilization technology to trickle down into mid-range devices.
Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Batteries finally get a boost Mobile Trends “Oomph” 9 When it comes to innovation, the humble battery has been neglected. However, we predict 2014 to be the year we receive the news we’ve all been waiting for. Over the last year, we’ve seen significant advancements in the development of silicon supercapacitors that promise full re-charge in minutes with battery life that lasts for weeks. Battery technology has been falling behind in recent years. The stock answer has simply been to increase the battery capacity, granting the user another hour of usage (at best). It’s a long-shot, but this year we expect the technology to be further developed for commercial use and the launch of a super-capacitor powered smartphone to be announced by the end of the year. We can all but hope. Poor battery performance is one of the unfortunate compromises we all have to make as we demand faster, bigger and higher resolution devices. However, scientists the world over are racing to extend the boundaries of lithium battery technology.
“Social” Mobile Trends WDS | Mobile Trends 2014 Social sentiment improves decision making Mobile Trends Using social media for customer engagement is so 2013. 10 The huge volume of social traffic passing through platforms such as Twitter has been largely untapped as a source of customer insight. “Social” While brands have matured in their use of social tools to communicate with, and even support, customers, most have been unable to cut through petabytes of noise to understand customer sentiment in a way that can improve internal decision making. However, the technology matured quickly in the last half of 2013 and we expect more and more brands to start building “social sentiment” into their product development lifecycles and business planning processes; keeping track of product / service performance, monitoring customers’ feature requests, analyzing buying habits and even acting as an early warning system for potential support issues.
www.wds.co WDS, A Xerox Company is the trading name of Wireless Data Services Ltd registered in England and Wales with company number 01714719. Registered address - Wireless Data Services Limited, 160 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4AN. VAT number GB 911330278. While every care has been taken to ensure that the information in this document is correct, WDS cannot accept (and hereby disclaims) any responsibility for loss or damage caused by errors or omissions. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without the prior permission of WDS. Copyright: WDS 2014
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