The last Christmas market stalls have packed away their wares and the final New Year fireworks are fizzling into oblivion - yes, 2014 is now officially upon us. The past year has been a big one for mobile technology. We have seen smartphones take their first tentative steps towards establishing themselves as life-controlling hubs and companies becoming smarter about how they deploy mobile devices as efficiency strategies. Not only that, but whilst wearable technology is still in its infancy, 2013 has shown glimmers of a world in which computers will be an accepted part of an everyday attire. So shake off your hangover and pay attention – here are seven trends in mobile to keep an eye out for this coming year.
Businesses will wake up to BYOD
According to recent research from Microsoft, the average UK family now owns 10 personal media devices. These aren’t just toys and gadgets, but vital tools that we are becoming increasingly reliant upon to help plan and organise our lives. So it is natural that, as people find themselves increasingly dependent on a connection to the Internet through smartphones, tablets and e-readers, trends like BYOD have surfaced and spread.
The next twelve months will see the 73 per cent of UK businesses with no formal BYOD policies wake up to the fact that they can no longer ignore the move towards consumerised mobility. With an October survey revealing that 87 per cent of employees working in a business with no BYOD policy are unhappy, it’s clear that this is a big deal.
Whilst there is no one-size-fits-all solution, businesses both small and large need to weigh up the costs and security risks of BYOD with the benefits and form their own strategies. After all, if one thing will become clear over the next year, it will be that people are more productive when able to work remotely with a smart device enabled with corporate data.
New mobile ads will emerge
In 2014, the combination of three of the biggest digital phenomena of 2013 – mobile, sharing and video – will create a powerful new trend that will revolutionise the advertising space.
'Visual sharing' has seen a great deal of consumer success with short, looping videos created by Twitter-owned company Vine. These six-second clips have gained traction as a way to engage with huge volumes of people in a very short space of time. A single vine can gain hundreds of thousands of views as users share interesting content, sending it viral in a matter of hours.
It seems only natural then, that advertisers will soon realise the value of video as a go-to tactic for brands to connect with consumers. Facebook seems to have already taken its first tentative steps down this path, beginning a video ad rollout in December 2013 that will see it try to take a slice of the TV advertising market that’s currently worth over £40 billion in the US alone.
Apple will step into BlackBerry's boots
Poor BlackBerry can’t even have a glancing mention in the media these days without someone throwing the word 'beleaguered' in at an opportune moment. Saying that the Canadian company has had a difficult year is quite an understatement. BlackBerry lost $965 million in the most recent quarter, and it’s no secret that new CEO John Chen planned to axe 40 per cent of its workforce by the end of 2013.
So who will step up to fill the void left by BlackBerry if 2014 sees its final breath? Considering that Apple was one of the vultures circling over BlackBerry HQ trying to poach skilled workers in 2013, it is not unreasonable to assume that the electronics behemoth will be one of the strongest contenders to take up BlackBerry's mantle as the go-to manufacturer of devices for the enterprise.
Whilst Android is gaining penetration into the consumer marketplace, Apple’s reputation for providing streamlined apps, improved security, excellent device management initiatives and popularity in BYOD models sets it up as a business-friendly company that’s more than capable of filling BlackBerry’s battered old boots in the coming year.
Wearable tech will face fresh obstacles
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a Google Glass. Or at least, that’s the opinion you’ll probably be used to if you’ve read any gadget-based publication over the last year.
Wearable tech is a hot topic at the moment, but we’ve been quick to forget a keyword in the technology’s description - 'wearable'. Any garment, no matter its purpose or design, has to adhere to three simple rules, known as the three Fs: function, fit and fashion.
So far, the function and fit have been relatively on the mark. From watches to glasses, rings to wigs, there is a wide range of choices that can enrich users' daily lives whether they're working out in the gym, trying to find their way through an unfamiliar city or preparing a meeting in the boardroom.
Fashion, however, has been a little harder to pin down. In an interview with Forbes, entrepreneur Billy Seibel admitted, "I have Google Glass, but I'm a bit embarrassed to wear that outside of the privacy of my home. Perception that they create isn't 'cool,' it's geeky and socially awkward."
At the most basic level, it seems that unless something is done in 2014 to make wearable technology more universally accepted beyond the “glassholes” population, we won’t see it taking off into the mainstream market for a few years yet.
The power of two will become clear
They say two's company, and indeed, 2014 will see many mobile companies look to the power of two to revolutionise their smartphone products.
Dual-screen and dual-SIM phones first made their appearance in 2013. The Yotaphone from the Russian firm Yota is a prime example of the twin-screened format, with a regular 720p display on the front of the handset and an always-on E-ink screen on the rear. The idea is that all the information you need to check regularly - like date/time and appointment reminders – are displayed constantly on the energy saving E-ink display. No more do you have to waste time and battery life waking up your phone from sleep to check when your next meeting is.
As manufacturers experiment more with dual technology, time will tell whether they start a revolution of usability or merely create another batch of handsets that get thrown straight onto the pile marked 'gimmick'.