And there are quite a few of these that could impact both consumers and businesses.
But first, the numbers.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), an Arlington, VA-based trade association that owns/produces CES, recently reported that shipment revenues for smart phones will be about $37 billion next year, with almost 126 million units shipped to dealers, a 16 percent increase from this year. And tablet computers will continue to be immensely popular – unit sales will exceed 105 million (+ 54 percent from ‘12), translating to almost $36 billion in shipment revenue.
To further accentuate just how quickly the mobile connected universe is expanding, check out these numbers from a November ’12 Pew Internet and American Life project:
• 56 percent of all U.S. mobile phone owners access the Internet.
• 85 percent of all U.S. adults own a mobile phone.
• 53 percent of mobile phone owners have smart phones.
• 88 percent check email on their phones each day.
Forbes reported earlier this month that two areas we’ll see a lot of at CES are digital health and smart cars. The digital health market, encompassing telemedicine, mobile apps, medical records, fitness monitors, and more, is growing more than 40 percent a year.
“As the health industry meets the consumer electronics industry you’re seeing dozens of innovations from mobile personal emergency systems to glucose, blood, heart rate and other monitors that you’ll be able to use at home, to a remote session with your doctor. The tech industry knows how to market to consumers; the medical industry is looking to them for that expertise,” said Forbes.
A few years ago, for example, Nebraska-based telemedicine solution provider AET completed a first of its kind, real-time remote diagnosis of a newborn baby's heart murmur between Faith Regional Health Services and Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Norfolk and Omaha, NE, respectively. The diagnosis used advanced wireless video conferencing technology through a mobile camera device connected to an ultrasound machine.
Forbes added that smart cars and related technologies will also be a popular CES attraction – the Google car, for instance, will be on display featuring its LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging; an optical remote sensing technology) system. And smart transportation will continue to generate considerable interest, added Alexandru Voica and Simon Forrest of UK-based Imagination Technologies, which designs and licenses multimedia and communications semiconductor cores.
Writing in the September/October issue of Vision, CEA’s flagship publication, the co-authors said “solutions will appear to enable advanced servers to detect immediate dangers, automatically avoid traffic jams and closed roads and monitor surroundings. This will lead to a reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions, a decrease in traffic jams and an improvement in the efficiency of existing infrastructure.”
I reckon vehicles will become so intelligent that eventually they won’t need us.
Snarchasm aside, there are a number of other interesting mobile marketing/tech trends that will accelerate in popularity/growth. To wit, yesterday, Tom’s Hardware prognosticated that LTE will ‘build out and up’ in ’13.
Here’s a snapshot quote of where they think things are heading:
“Adoption of LTE is still in the initial stages but consumers will see widespread coverage in 2013. In North America, Verizon should finish its LTE rollout by June 2013, and the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) forecasts that 209 networks will be commercially launched in 75 countries by the end of 2013. GSA also reports that over 500 LTE devices including tablets, femtocells, smart phones and routers have been introduced this year, a 164 percent increase compared to the number launched in 2011. LTE coverage is clearly seen as a competitive differentiator by carriers, and as network rollouts accelerate worldwide, manufacturers are responding with products for these markets.”
A wireless communication standard enabling data to be exchanged between devices over a distance of about four centimeters (two inches), NFC is inherently secure since devices must be placed close to each other – this contrasts with long-range protocols like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi which must select and connect with the correct device out of many that might be within range. NFC sets up connections faster than standard Bluetooth and its low-power variant, Bluetooth 3.0.
A mobile phone equipped with NFC technology can be used to carry a portable identity credential and then wirelessly present it to a reader – the phone is simply waved in front of the reader. One of the key features of NFC is the ability for NFC devices to operate in a passive, power-saving mode, while still being able to communicate with active NFC devices. An RF field is generated by the active device powering a passive target without an electricity source. Only one of the devices needs to be powered in order for the communication to occur.
Current uses are largely focused around contactless payments; but one emerging app is micro marketing using intelligent posters. Consumers can use their NFC phone to read a tag on the poster, which takes them to a special web page on their phone with more information.
“Ultimately, NFC smart phones will operate as smartcards in a peer-to-peer environment, taking advantage of the fact that the ‘card’ (smart phone) is actually a fast computer attached to a network in a cloud-computing environment,” said Tam Hulusi, Senior Vice President, HID Global, a security vendor.
Location based payments
Eoin Keenan posted on CustomerThink (a global online community of business leaders) last November that the GPS transmitter which is now standard in just about every device, can track where users are when they post online and willingly share their location. This opens up new horizons for marketers.
“You could create discounts in exchange for check-ins, literally drawing people to your location,” said Keenan. “It also allows for geo-fencing, where you target ads at users who enter specified locations based on a set radius. A real opportunity is a one-off, temporary offers or create really local ads. Finally, it allows you to develop profiles of users based on their travel and location patterns – people that regularly pass your store can be targeted as a potential customer.”
One company, Tabbedout, uses location-based technology to show available merchants in a given area. Users who have turned off their location capabilities are still able to search within the app for available locations by zip code. Tabbedout CEO Paul Fiore said the strength of the Tabbedout solution is found in the ability to transmit payments without being within a specific distance of a location, what he calls ‘Far Field Communication.’ It’s suited, he said, for the hospitality industry where customers may not be in proximity to card readers, scanners or a POS system. The restaurant chain T.G.I. Fridays signed on with Tabbedout in April, the company’s first national partner.
Mobile phones have developed light years since those bulky models of yesteryear – they’re now just about surgically attached to us 24/7 and smart marketers who realize this will benefit most going forward into 2013.
Mark Simmons, reporting in EContent, succinctly summed it up:
“As consumer behavior continues to shift from the web, mobile will no longer be an afterthought but the initial one. Brands will have to enhance the mobile experience whether it is about content, m-commerce or interactivity.”