2011 will be remembered as one of the most dramatic years in the technology industry. There have been some serious power shifts and significant advances such as the monumental rise of Android, the marriage of Nokia and Microsoft, Google’s purchase of Motorola and the unveiling of Windows 8. More significantly though, the tragic passing of Steve Jobs gave us all a moment to reflect on how intrinsic these devices have become for society.
2011 has also seen the battle of the mobile OS heat up. We have seen the unification of Android with Ice Cream Sandwich, the launch of Windows Mango, BlackBerry announcing their next-generation OS and Apple launching iOS5.
Below are our Top 10 Predictions for 2012:
1. Native apps will continue to offer the premium user interface, whilst web will improve for the mass market
Where HTML5 and other web based properties are improving all the time, we will see an increase in responsive design supporting multi-platform accessibility. However, this demands compromise so the best user experiences will still be found within native applications. For premium usability among the leading platforms, native will be where the lions share of optimised development continues over the coming year.
2. Increased adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) alongside the decline of BlackBerry
2011 has seen a huge increase in the consumerisation of IT, thanks in large part to the popularity of the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. This has also been bought about by the waning popularity of BlackBerry as a work device – a situation that has only increased since the communication outages earlier in the year. In the coming year, it is expected that IT departments will increase their support for employees to bring their own devices, whilst also introducing new applications that bring efficiencies and connectivity for employees.
3. More Apple & Android devices in the enterprise (due to consumer prevalence, improvements in security and price per handset)
Apple has been establishing itself as an enterprise favourite over the past few years thanks to an increasing range of enterprise functions and security features. Apple’s slick dominance of the tablet market is likely to remain in corporate worlds, whilst rugged tablets running on Android will increasingly emerge in more industrial settings. In the coming year, we expect that Apple’s rise in the enterprise market will start to be matched by Android, reflecting the trends we have seen in the consumer space this year. Google has introduced an increasing amount of security measures to protect data stored on devices, with some of the Motorola devices offering a popular transition for BlackBerry fans. This opens up the opportunities for the next generation of enterprise apps and moves more of us towards the possibility of a post-PC environment.
4. Mobile Device Management (MDM) will become more prevalent among large enterprises
Mobile Device Management holds a key role in both securing and enabling mobile devices in the workplace. Enterprise app stores are supporting controlled distribution of apps, while MDM providers offer the ability to authorise access, restrict certain functions, track devices and also remotely wipe content. This offers a huge benefit, allowing businesses to protect potentially sensitive information and recover lost devices. We anticipate that this will become commonplace among smartphones, tablets and mobile connected laptops also.
5. Mobile roadmaps to include utilitarian solutions alongside rich, interactive marketing tactics
Mobile roadmaps will continue to evolve, with connected devices playing a role across a range of utilitarian functions. Mobile is the preferred consumer channel so marketers will continue to explore its rich capabilities. However, there will be a steady increase in purposeful solutions as opposed to short-term gimmicks. Simple tools, dashboards & wizards will support day-to-day tasks, supporting self-service when and where it suits the user. We expect 2012 to be the year that mobile data really demonstrates the ROI for loyalty, efficiency & satisfaction.
6. Synchronization of devices – living in Apple’s iCloud, Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich and Microsoft’s Metro
As iCloud seeks to connect all of your Apple devices to enable a smooth transition and user experience, the coming year will see the unification of Android thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich and the Metro style UI across Microsoft operating systems. This will lead users to be able to switch easily from device to device, as long as they stay within their chosen eco-system.
7. Growth of Android tablets (due in part to Kindle fire)
The Amazon Kindle Fire, a highly modified & affordable version of Android, is already a huge hit in North America. As it arrives in the UK, it is likely to continue its success in driving a captive market for content consumption. Amazon is sending a clear message to the industry that it endorses the Android platform and we imagine that future versions may become more Android oriented. For now, whilst the Kindle Fire adds to market fragmentation, it shows a positive step in encouraging Android adoption.
8. Responsive web will become more prevalent leading to the death of flash
With Adobe announcing that they are no longer developing Flash for mobile, the battle of the web formats appears to be over. HTML5 and future web properties will become the standard, which will eventually lead to true cross platform applications and experiences. We don’t believe web based apps will reach this point by the end of 2012, but it will be the start of the journey towards greater simplicity.
9. Windows 8 metro will offer a unified mobile, tablet, console and computer UI that will create a tighter ecosystem
Windows 8 is set to be a big driver in the wider adoption of Windows devices. Unlike other smartphone players, Microsoft is aligning the tablet & desktop offering, building a strong ecosystem through Windows 8 (Metro). We can see how consumers, prosumers and enterprise will all benefit from this cross device compatibility. The smartphone offering, helped by Nokia’s efforts, is sure to follow the lead of the Metro user interface. We imagine this could take a little time, but eagerly anticipate the arrival of a Windows 8 phone later in 2012.
10. The dominance of three platforms
2012 will be recognised as the year that the smartphone market became more streamlined. We believe that there will be just three dominant platforms in the market – iOS, Android & Windows Phone 7, which already reflect three quarters of the UK smartphone marketshare. We imagine that BlackBerry will be largely focusing on the development of its next generation platform but will ultimately continue to struggle when competing with the desktop, media and gaming associations of Microsoft, Apple and Android.