2010: Top Mobile Announcements & Trends

 

1.)  The iPad:

With its release in March and nearly 10MM units sold in 2010, the iPad has forced mobile tech manufacturers to play catch up in the tablet category.  The device’s success has given further rise to behaviors like time shifting, place shifting, and is fundamentally changing the way in which we consume digital content.   In late 2010 Samsung introduced their Galaxy Tab in the US with impressive sales but 80+ tablet devices are expected to hit the market in 2011 so it will be an interesting sector to follow as consumers define their preferences.

2.)  Android:

2010 was the year of the Android device.  Total device unit sales surpassed that of the iPhone starting in August according to Nielsen.  Samsung grabbed the #1 manufacturer spot with 32.1% of total Android device sales (+9.2% from ’09). As lower price point options enter the market from Samsung, HTC and Motorola these numbers are only likely to climb in 2011.

3.)  4G/LTE Speed:

Despite differences in their technical terminology, the introduction of 4G/LTE speed was big news for data hungry mobile consumers in 2010. Usage of mobile video reached nearly 90 petabytes driven by the YouTube, Hulu and Netflix and according to Cisco usage is expected to increase by 141% between 2009 and 2014.  Sprint was first out of the gate with 4G followed by T-Mobile and Verizon but they have yet to release it to mobile devices.

4.)  The App Lifestyle:

A product but also a trend, App usage was fueled by consumer looking to live app empowered lives in 2010. Services like iTunes, Android Market, OVI, Windows Phone Marketplace in addition to 3rd party stores like GetJar opened up a big market to independent developers, retailers and advertisers.   The iTunes App store recorded 7 billion cumulative downloads with a catalog of 300,000 applications followed by the Android Market at 1 billion downloads and Nokia’s OVI with 3.5 million.

5.)  The Hero Device Quest:

As consumers sought to minimize the number of devices they carry and merge their media usage into one device the hunt for the perfect device for their lifestyles unraveled.   In June Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with features including Facetime video, gyroscopic controls and an updated OS.  Not to be outdone, HTC, Samsung and Motorola released marquee devices of their own like Sprint’s HTC Evo and the Samsung Epic while Verizon focused on Motorola’s Droid X.  The market will only get hotter as lower price point devices enter to compete for share of lower-income consumers.

6.)  HTML5:

It’s not even a fully integrated standard yet but due to Apple’s decision not to support Adobe Flash on its mobile devices (iPad included) HTML was one of 2010’s biggest announcements.  By May, 46% of web users were ready for HTML5 as well as providers like YouTube and Vimeo.  After 5 years in development, developers and designers were now given an abundance of web technologies for media, graphics and storage built right into the browser.

7.)  Geo-Social Location & Foursquare

While countless studies reported geo-social location-based check-ins were limited to niche and early adopter groups, Foursquare still garnered the most press attention in 2010.  Waning interest was likely due to privacy concerns and an unclear reason to participate but Foursquare looking for a boost introduced some new features towards the end of Q4’10  such as photo sharing and the ability to post comments. Further innovations in the space like geo-fencing, travel rewards, new opportunities for location-based ads and services to fight identity theft also arrived on the geo-social scene.

8.)  Bar code Scanners

Bar code scanners were a huge trend in 2010 as users began using the technology for price comparisons and social shopping.  Mobile bar code scanning increased by 700% however campaigns were not without their pitfalls.  Google placed QR codes in newspapers unsuccessfully while the Microsoft Tag campaign in Entertainment Weekly garnered 444,572 hits.  Retailers like Amazon and eBay also got into the mix launching applications that included scanning features.

9.)  NFC (Near Field Communication)

Most NFC  innovations and announcements came towards the end of the year.  Apple and RIM acquired NFC experts quietly without announcements but Google’s  Gingerbread now supports the data transfer technology.  However,  announcements from PayPal via BlingNation and Visa who officially launched In2Pay marked significant headway in the.  AT&T, Verizon & T-mobile teamed up on Isis a carrier led mobile pay system while Sprint has its own standalone service.   Expect a whole lot of mobile wallet announcements at CES this year.

10.) Mobile Gap Gaming

The use of mobile devices to pacify was not limited to children.  Brief non-committal gaming took hold in 2010 with breakaway hits like Angry Birds which brought in 50MM downloads. As Smartphone owners took the opportunity to entertain themselves during small gaps of boredom.  Gaming became a hook for some device manufacturers as they featured capabilities and themes in their messaging.  Devices like the Samsung Epic as well as the much-anticipated release of the Sony Ericsson Playstation Phone are a couple of examples.

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