Written for the 18th edition of Mobile Marketing Magazine. See the full issue here.
So the New Year hasn’t quite brought the ‘new you’ that the mobile industry might have been looking for, instead we all seem to be focused on delivering, or perfecting, those innovations we’ve all been talking about since that fated ‘year of mobile’.
With sales halted on the current version of Google Glass, plus wearables like Nike FuelBand resigned to the scrap heap, it’s clear that smart device-makers are doing some soul-searching. Despite several new launches at CES, Apple’s Watch, set to launch this Spring, is really the only wearable on everyone’s mind.
But check out the Uno Noteband for something a little bit different. The device, which has just completed a successful crowdfund on Indiegogo, comes pre-loaded with Spritz fast-reading software that promises to help you read a 300-page book in 90 minutes. This might be the key to keeping your New Year’s resolution to read more books, while Bond could be just the app to help you keep those promises of regular contact with family and friends, enabling you to set regular reminders to reach out to certain people, on whichever platform they want to hear from you.
It’s clear the handset market is still hot though, with Chinese upstart Xiaomi sealing its position as the world’s third-best selling handset in 2014, and rousing investment rumours from big players like Facebook. The company, founded in 2010, has just unveiled a couple of handsome handsets that are shorter, thinner, lighter and much cheaper than the iPhone 6 Plus.
Although failing in its bid to get a slice of the Chinese device market, Facebook just made an interesting buyout in the form of Wit.ai, which could accelerate voice-controlled functionality in the social giant’ products. Facebook’s enterprise efforts are also a hot tip for 2015, if businesses are willing to part with their data of course!
Behind the scenes, Qualcomm has been working hard on improving the processing power of our much-loved smartphones, and its Snapdragon 810 is now coming into production in Windows and Android devices like the LG G Flex 2. This means better data speeds, longer battery life and optimised support of 4K, or ultra-high-definition, video.
And this is perfect timing for what’s becoming our all-video culture, with visual feasting set to represent 79% of all consumer internet traffic in 2018, up from 66% in 2013. With everyone from Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, Netflix, Instagram and Vice all vying your attention in this fast-growing media space, prepare for the definition of TV, the ad spend and the metrics to change dramatically.
And where would video be without, next gen video: virtual reality. Gamers are clearly the big winners in the growth of VR, and mobile games are already tipped to outsell consoles this year. But advertisers, too, will start to make virtual reality pay. Although the Tesco store walkaround was pretty awkward, companies like Chrysler are turning a ‘behind the scenes at the factory’ slot into a truly cinematic experience, with the help of Google Maps and Oculus Rift.
And where there’s ‘bells and whistles’ tech, there’s now a real drive to create the products and services that help every day. Covering everything from assistive technologies for people with disabilities, to ‘quantified self’ applications like Health from Apple, 2015 is surely the year that health products, and health data, become awesome. In Berlin, MiMi is using smartphones to help make hearing aid technologies accessible to all. Peak Vision is likewise bringing cheap eye tests to the developing world via its smartphone app.
And where there’s small data, there’s bigger data, the likes of which is helping smart city innovation trickle down to smart towns. MK:Smart is a £16m project currently smartening up Milton Keynes, proving that projects like this can be done on a smaller scale. The company behind this was just bought up by Huawei, while Samsung Ventures has invested in London-based IoT startup Everythng, so it’s certainly a battleground to wtach going into 2015.
Keep an eye on eye-tracking and facial-recognition tech, long-tipped to come into mainstream usage, save the creepiness factor, plus even more mobile-first product customisation, like that just announced at BBC News. Mobile money, yet again led by Apple, is also likely to become ‘just another thing we do’ come New Year’s Day 2016. But don’t think about that now, there’s a whole year of improvement and iteration to do first!