The world is increasingly going mobile. Forrester projects that by the end of 2016, 46 percent of the world’s population will be smartphone subscribers, and CSS Insight predicts smartphone sales will peak in 2017 in Western markets and reach 2.35 billion shipments globally by 2019. Meanwhile, smartphones are becoming part of an ever-growing, interconnected device mesh that now includes wearables, smart homes and smart cars. As the world enters 2016, here are some mobile trends that will shape the near future.
In the wake of the Apple Watch, the wearable market will expand exponentially over the next five years, analysts expect. Seven million Apple Watches were sold in Q2 and Q3 alone, Canalys reports, surpassing the sales of all rivals combined. Between 2014 and 2020, the global wearable market will grow from 22 million to 175 million, representing a growth rate of nearly 800 percent, TECHnalysis Research forecasts.
The emerging wearable market includes head-worn devices such as glasses, ear-worn devices, watches, bracelets, rings and other devices such as those carried in pockets or on necklaces. Smart watches will continue to dominate the wearable market into 2017, but by 2018 head-worn devices will become the top revenue-generating category in the U.S. Marketing currently focuses on consumers, but business applications will continue to expand. Health and fitness applications, screenless devices simulating the sense of touch, and audio-activated user interfaces will be a few emerging trends.
In 2015, the smart home market will grow 32 percent over the previous year to reach $967 million in revenue, the Consumer Electronics Association reports. The number of Internet-connected things within homes is expected to nearly double every year over the next few years, from 294.2 million this year to 586.1 million in 2016 to 1,067 million in 2017, according to Gartner.
This growth will be driven by home-energy equipment, safety devices, and security systems, and will include smart LED lighting, thermostats, healthcare monitoring systems, security sensors, monitors, cameras, alarm systems and appliances.
Smart home technology growth will also include Internet-connected entertainment systems, led by the explosive 4K Ultra HD TV market, which the CEA projects to more than double in 2015 to reach $5.3 billion. Parks Associates predicts that global sales of 4K sets will increase from 2 million in 2013 to 330 million by 2019, a 164-fold increase.
Mobile Business Trends
One-third of smartphone users will be using their devices for shopping in 2016, tripling mobile payments, eMarketer predicts. Mobile payment apps, partnerships between major brands and mobile payment providers, and new EMV chip liability policies are accelerating this trend. Retailers are increasingly offering mobile coupons and special deals only to mobile customers. For example, the outdoor outfitters Cabela’s offers text alerts when special items go on sale.
As the mobile payment market grows, businesses are shifting their advertising budgets. Mobile ad spending will reach 12.4 percent of global ad spending in 2016, surpassing newspaper ad spending to become the third-largest advertising category behind TV and desktop Internet ads, according to ZenithOptimedia.
Retailers will also feel mobile’s impact in 2016. Facebook and Twitter have become shopping platforms, which will drive trends toward omnichannel integration. In the era of analytics, customers expect more customized offers and service. By the end of 2016, over $2 billion of shopping will be conducted by mobile digital technology assistants such as Siri, according to Gartner.