We have been hearing a lot about mobile applications, Apple iPhone, iPhone apps, Google Android phones offered by different telecommunications companies such as T-Mobile Android phones by T-Mobile and a whole lot more of mobile application buzzwords in 2009. How will the mobile application industry develop in 2010?
If you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner looking into the mobile application industry, either to ride the wave or to capitalize on the fact that your customers are spending more time with their phone, this blog post will be able to help.
For the last few weeks, I got in touch with developers as well as mobile application industry experts to get their insights on how the industry will move in 2010. Let’s have a look at what’s going to be big for mobile applications in 2010.
Micropayments can be defined as mobile transactions that involve a small sum of money. Micropayments within mobile applications can be used to upgrade basic app to a premium version, purchase game items, digital content or even small gifts for friends.
Just before we wrap 2009 up, Square, a combination of hardware and software that allows vendors to accept credit card payments using mobile devices, was launched by Jack Dorsey. This can be the line for you to think along about what is coming up for micropayments in 2010.
For internet retail, the ergonomics of smartphones or the ten-key does not lend itself to the data-intensive, multi-page checkout process that exists on traditional e-commerce sites. A simple secure wallet or wallets needs to emerge, explains Conrad Sheehan, founder and CEO of online and mobile payment provider mPayy.
Conrad also sees mobile bill payments and micropayments for digital content consumption continue to grow in 2010.
Bill French, co-founder of MyST Technology Partners and Senior Editor for iPhoneCTO, puts forward in a blog post, WARNING: iPhone 3GS Encryption Places Enterprise Data At Risk, that iPhone 3GS encryption is weak and extremely vulnerable. To look at how serious this can be, here’s a snippet from the blog post:
iPhone is defenseless in the hands of a hacker who is familiar with free and popular jail-breaking tools. In this PIN-defeating exercise, a hacker need only place the iPhone in restore mode while injecting a new custom kernel. This opens the door to access through SSH to grab the phone’s raw disk image – and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle, or a guy named “Bob” has your corporate login.
Although this will not slow the adoption of the Apple iPhone by businesses, he is expecting better security for mobile application platforms. This is especially important when more users are conducting financial transactions and lifestreaming using their phone.
Business App Store
With all the mobile platforms targeting their app store towards average consumers, the introduction of a business app store is imminent, according to Bill. Some of his points, which are originally published on There’s An iPhone Business App Store Coming; Bet On It, are:
- Serious business app developers suffer from lack of visibility and have no way to differentiate themselves from a tsunami of consumer apps.
- An enterprise app store would represent additional monetization of iPhone and a driving element for more robust versions of the iPhone (firmware and hardware). Apple is hell-bent to be the premium-priced product in the space; a specialty store would reinforce this strategy.
- With competitors trying to build consumer app stores for their devices, and Research In Motion’s marketing counter assault on iPhone in the enterprise, the last thing Apple would want to leak now is a plan for a business-only app store.
Location-based technology or GPS technology received the most buzz in 2009 and we can expect it to continue growing in 2010, especially when more applications utilize it to provide content that are better related to their users.
Michael Hill, founder and CEO of PrimoSpot, sees more apps becoming location aware.
We are already seeing support for this in Twitter and it’s client apps. Many phones and digital cameras now automatically ‘geo-tag’ pictures taken with camera. GPS is critical for apps like ours as we need people to see data where they are right now and as they move around in the real world.
The push for relevance may force existing location-based technology into hyper-local mode. To explain, Michael Schneider, CEO of Mobile Roadie gave the following example:
We give our customers the ability to send “push notifications” at a ZIP code and a radius around a ZIP code. For example, an author on a book tour could blast to “90401” (for Santa Monica) that he’s going to be at Barnes and Noble signing books, he can attract his superfans in a quick and effective way. Additionally, I think apps have just as much value for Britney Spears as the local pizza shop. Both have their superfans but the local shop can talk to his 50 customers a week that have lunch there a few times a week and push daily specials, catering offers, etc.
Social Based Applications
Social networking activities certainly do not end when you leave your computer. We are already seeing a large amount of people tweeting and updating their Facebook status on-the-go, not to mention those who are posting videos and photos to services like Twitpic and 12seconds using their mobile phone.
Location-based technology adds more fun to the picture as you will now know exactly where your friends are hanging around. However, some predicted that there is a high chance for Facebook, the largest social networking site on the Internet right now, to make a step into the location-based scene in 2010.
In an interview I did with Tristan Brotherton, co-founder of Flook and in that interview, he states that a lot of the social orientated applications, like Loopt and Brightkite, are going to be in a rather precarious position when Facebook decides to concentrate on geo, and as a result, try to transform into something different.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. This is better described using the image below.
According to Sean Everett, co-founder of Evolyte, a mobile app marketing firm,
The biggest thing to happen in the mobile app space in 2009 is without a doubt augmented reality. Unfortunately, the built-in GPS units in current phone models are not powerful enough (yet) to truly utilize AR’s full potential.
Imagine walking by a retail store, have an alert pushed to your device that the store has the exact brand and size of jeans you’ve put on your wish list, then being able to hold up your phone and find that exact pair within inches inside a 20,000 square foot warehouse, or to instantaneously search the web for the best price on that pair of jeans, all through one mobile app.
Sean also recommended that you should check out TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense, if you are interested in knowing where all of this is heading towards.
Mobile Operating Systems (OS) Adoption
Without a doubt, Apple, with their iPhone and the famous “There’s an app for that!” marketing campaign, successfully popularizes the concept of mobile applications and an app store where you only download or purchase applications that you need.
Seeing a goldmine being tapped by Apple, other mobile phone companies won’t stay on the sidelines. By the end of 2009, major phone manufacturers rushed to push out their own version of app stores and iPhone-like mobile phones. Mobile application developers have varied comments regarding the adoption of mobile phones as well as directions to be taken by phone manufacturers in 2010.
Apple App Store approval process has been a pain in the butt for a lot of developers and it is one barrier that most want to stay away from. Phil Michaelson, founder of KartMe, favors interoperability and open distribution, and foresees that such unfriendliness towards developers might turn them away.
Blackberry’s introduction of better browsers will create a solid mobile browser based experience. Look for developers to try to jump away from Apple as soon as possible – they’ve been very unfriendly to developers, delaying the sale of new apps.
Moving into 2010, things will not be easy for Apple as phones running on Android by Google as well as other platforms will look for ways to further dent Apple’s market share. The following was quoted from Michael of PrimoSpot.
Android phones slowly taking market share away from RIM (Blackberry) and Apple (iPhone). This will not change Apple’s stronghold on the market, but will start to "chip away" at it. By the end of 2010, the iPhone will be the reining King of Mobile, but Android will have a nice 2nd place. RIM needs to offer a better software development kit (SDK) or they will continue to lose market share even with the business users.
Other than just Apple and Google Android, Jeremiah Cohick, President of Digital Dandelion has some predictions for platforms with lower user adoption rate like Palm OS, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.
Everything about Android is inferior to the iPhone. Android will mature in 2010 with major Android Market policy changes, SDK improvements, UI improvements, and significantly better hardware. Most importantly, carrier diversity will drive Android device adoption.
Palm’s webOS will gain market share, but only after it drops Sprint as an exclusive partner. It’s innovative and more accessible application platform will deliver much better quality apps than Android, despite being not as popular. BlackBerry and Windows Mobile will become increasingly irrelevant. Consumer demand for Android and iPhone will influence businesses to reconsider BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.
High Entry Barriers for Fledgling Developers
Developers that are new to the scene and without much support will face trouble getting user adoption. Not only that there are already a ton of mobile applications out there, established developers have better advantages in terms of capability to introduce new features over a short time span as well as the resources to adapt and test their applications on new platforms.
Jeremiah of Digital Dandelion highlighted the following:
Early successful iPhone developers that are now backed by venture capital and established software developers will dominate mobile app development in 2010. Small and individual developers will be challenged with even greater obscurity. The gold rush for the iPhone is over.
However, Michael Schneider of Mobile Roadie, a leading platform to quickly and inexpensively build iPhone Apps that include audio, video, photos, and viral spread, feels that the barriers are actually coming down.
They’re decreasing. Services like Mobile Roadie make it less expensive and quicker to get in the game. There are also SDK’s being released for developers that are constantly making it easier and slicker to build apps.
Mobile Application Advertising
The increasing number of mobile application users opens up another advertising channel for brands and businesses. For developers, this is definitely a good news. If you already have an application or planning to develop one, you should check out advertising networks that cover mobile applications like AdMob and Quattro.
Sean Everett of Evolyte states that we are going to see a huge increase in advertising within apps (in-app advertising). US mobile advertising revenue is expected to increase 500% in the next 5 years to $1.5 billion USD. I expect these ads to become more intrusive within the app so they garner higher click-through rates (CTRs).
Importance of Marketing for Applications
There are already hundreds of thousands of mobile applications out there. In order to stand a chance, developers or mobile application entrepreneurs need to know how to market applications that they developed.
As the co-founder of Evolyte, a mobile app marketing firm, Sean pointed his finger to basic or generic marketing strategies adopted by developers as the main reason why most mobile applications flopped.
The single biggest mistake we see developers making is only using basic promotion strategies that every other developer is using, such as creating a generic press release and blasting it to various blogs and app review sites. This does NOT help cut through the noise, it just adds to it.
Setting the right price point, building the anticipation prior to the launch of your application, constantly experiment new marketing strategies and creating brand awareness are some of the keys to score marketing success for your mobile applications.
HTML 5 – Native Apps vs Web Apps
With Google recently announcing that they are now backing the development of HTML 5, entrepreneurs and developers in the mobile applications space must pay attention. Essentially, HTML 5 turns your browser into a Swiss army knife and specific plugins or addons (Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, etc.) will no longer be required to run certain applications.
How will it effect the mobile applications space? Well, phones with a mobile browser that has HTML 5 rendering capabilities will be able to run web applications directly without any downloading and installation of apps. As for developers, there will no longer be a need to develop for different mobile platforms, making what we discussed under Mobile OS earlier irrelevant.
Other than that, companies behind mobile phones, such as Apple, will have lesser control over the applications that are made available to their phone users. For more information on this, you can check out Will HTML 5 Break Apple’s Stranglehold on Apps? For readers that are more advanced [than me], you can read up on how HTML 5 will change mobile at HTML 5 from a Mobile Perspective.
Your Predictions for the Mobile Applications Arena
Now that you have an idea of what’s coming in 2010, are you ready to create your own mobile application this year?
What are your thoughts on the trends above? What are some other trends that you think will be likely in 2010 for the mobile applications industry?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.
If you like this content, you may want to subscribe to Wayne Liew Dot Com Newsletter by submitting your first name and email address using the form below.