Since I managed to do a decent job with predicting last year’s mobile trends, I figured I’d give it another shot this year. Here are the biggest mobile trends I see in 2014, along with my predictions.
- Apple releases a bigger iPhone
I’ve seen a couple of die-hard iPhone users switch to Android this past year specifically to get a larger screen. Even high profile bloggers are starting to explore Android. Apple can continue to be stubborn for only so long.
My prediction: Apple relents and releases a 4.7″ screen with 1080p resolution for its iPhone 6 launch in the Fall. As with other iPhone launches, it will be wildly successful.
- Android and iOS continue their OS dominance
I still believe there is room for a third operating system, but it will be a niche play. Android and iPhone have become too dominant for anyone else to gain traction at this point.
My prediction: Microsoft will continue to try to buy market share, but Windows Phone will continue to lag a very distant third at less than 10% market share. Unless they try some different approaches (a few of which I suggested here), don’t expect much change in mobile OS market share over the course of 2014. (If you’re curious about BlackBerry, don’t be. You can stick a form in them.)
- Apple and Samsung continue their smartphone dominance
I’m surprised that the smartphone handset market became a two horse race between Apple and Samsung during 2013. There are lots of people trying to nose their way in, but, if anything, Apple and Samsung seem to be strengthening their hold on the market.
My prediction: 2014 will be more of the same. HTC seems to have fallen into a rut, and my favorite upstart challengers, Huawei and ZTE, are struggling to gain traction in the US. Motorola seems to be the most aggressive. Out of everyone, I give them the best chance of making a comeback if they can figure out how to promote their Moto X and Moto G models, as well as follow them up with another strong offering.
- Chrome OS appears on mobile phones
When former Google Android lead Andy Rubin was pushed aside, I figured it was only a matter of time before Google merged their Android and Chrome OS developments. Everything I saw Google do in 2013 merely reinforced my view.
My prediction: Chrome OS will appear on a phone in 2014. Expect it to be a Nexus model that is announced around Google I/O or around the iPhone 6 launch. The smart money says that it will be built by Motorola as well, which may stir up controversy that Google is playing favorites among the Android handset makers.
- Amazon enters the mobile phone market
Quite honestly, I thought this was a slam dunk prediction for 2013. Oh well, I’m going to take another run at it for 2014. Amazon has been very successful with the Kindle product line, and I’m confident that they want to do the same with mobile phones.
My prediction: Amazon releases a phone in time for the holidays with one catch, it comes with the phone service included and delivered on a pay-as-you-go, no-contract basis. I also expect they will offer two phone types – a high-end model style to compete with the last iPhone and Android models, and a mid/low range Moto G style device.
- Nokia explores Android
There’s already rumors abound that Nokia has a low-end phone with a custom version of Android being developed. The question is whether that device will see the light of day once the Microsoft acquisition closes.
My prediction: Microsoft makes a big mistake and refuses to allow Nokia to release a low-end Android-based handset, severely limiting their ability to dominate the low-end of the market. In other words, while Nokia will be the largest Windows Phone manufacturer, it’ll be small potatoes compared to stalwarts Apple and Samsung.
- No contract and prepaid plans go mainstream
T-mobile showed this past year that consumers do not like subsidized contracts. Since they launched their “un-carrier” initiative, T-mobile has started adding subscribers. They’ve been so successful that AT&T launched their own set of no contract plans in December.
My prediction: T-mobile’s continued success with no contract plans will force Sprint and Verizon to join them with no-contract plans of their own in 2014. By the end of the year, it will be more common for people to buy no-contract plans rather than the way it used to be.
- The phone connects to the car
While it’s getting easier for your phone to connect with your car, it’s still not completely seamless. Based on recent announcements, I’m pretty convinced that’s going to change, and soon.
My prediction: Look for iOS and Android to become integrated in the 2015 models that come out toward the second half of the year. It will be easier than ever for your phone to integrate with your car, and I suspect it’ll be the first step to true mobile connectivity where your phone will completely control your car’s infotainment system, whether it’s an iPhone or Android device.
- Mobile payments gain traction
It seems like everyone has been working on mobile payments for years, but I believe we’re on the edge of a breakthrough. Especially with the recent credit card leaks at Target, people are ready for a new, more secure way to complete their transactions.
My prediction: Payment processes that are attempting to bypass cards are not the answer. I believe we should be using our phones as a security token that works with our cards at the point-of-sale to verify the user’s card and identity. In fact, I’m surprised Visa, Mastercard, or American Express haven’t done this already.
- The new design buzzword – mobile-optimized
The web design world revolves around buzzwords. The buzzword for 2013 was responsive web design. It was the chic way to design websites so they sized themselves based on screen size. Unfortunately, it leaves out the most important of the mobile user experience, context, so many responsive sites were simply reformatted versions of a bloated desktop site.
My prediction: Mobile-optimized becomes the buzzword for 2014. It will be important for a website to not only scale based on screen size but also detect a user’s context and deliver content based on a variety of factors, including whether they are on a mobile device or not.
Of all things predicted, there is one I know for sure. The mobile landscape continue to shift and move at a rapid pace, one that is always faster than we think it’s moving. I don’t see it slowing down in 2014, which means that the market will once again look much different at the end of 2014 than it does now.
If there are any trends in mobile you are keeping your eyes on in 2014, please let me know in the comments!