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Mobile and Wireless Update: Predictions for 2011

As 2010 draws to a close and interest in all things mobile reaches a fever pitch, Juniper Research has drawn up a list of predictions for the mobile and wireless industry for 2011. (Based in the United Kingdom, Juniper specializes in the identification and appraisal of high-growth opportunities across the mobile telecoms, content, and applications sectors.).

Here is the firm’s Top 5 predictions:

1. Surging mobile data traffic will continue to test 3G network capacity: As we predicted at the end of last year, 2010 was the year in which the surge in mobile data traffic, driven by the consumer smartphone boom, began to place the 3G networks under severe strain. A number of network operators have responded by introducing tiered data pricing -- a trend which will undoubtedly increase -- but as smartphone adoption continues apace, network capacity will be sorely tested in 2011. Tiered pricing (and the use of WiFi as capacity relief) may serve to alleviate the problem to a certain extent, but until we see mass deployments of LTE networks (and, equally important, devices that are LTE-capable), then operators face a nervous period of attempting to manage the transition.

2. Augmented reality to enhance mobile games and retail: Augmented Reality, or AR, has largely been used in local search and reference applications thus far, but is now attracting the attention of the retail industry. Given its potential to geotag products or locations with brand/campaign-specific information, as we near the end of 2010 a raft of major retailers and brands (including eBay, H&M and Carlsberg) are releasing apps with an AR element.

3. Cloud-based operating systems are launched: So far, mobile operating systems have followed their PC-based cousins, the structure for which was formulated when the web was in its infancy. Consequently, with the web having taken-off, for some time now industry figures have been talking about the potential for applications to run from a “cloud.” Google announced the start of new project, the Chrome cloud OS in 2009; and the latest is that it will be launched in early 2011. With network reach and reliability reaching a point where cloud-based solutions can be considered viable, and remote servers already being used to allow the mobile Internet and e-mail, we believe 2011 will see the launch of the first cloud OS for mobile.

4. Mobile Banking will become a “must-have” when opening a new account:
Banks in developed countries will harness the power of the app and the smartphone to provide their customers with a much improved and personalized service experience.

5. Mobile devices begin to replace credit cards: 2011 looks like the year when, in some countries at least, using your phone as a credit card for lower value purchases will become a reality. Nokia’s C7 handset has an NFC chip included, which will be activated in 2011, and rumors of Apple’s next iPhone including NFC refuse to die down. A word of caution: it won’t all happen at once as stores need to deploy contactless readers, and more problematically, it is dependent on user preference. However, as with Bluetooth and cameras, we will see NFC in new devices whether we want it or not.

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