Mobile developers would be wise to pay close attention to Gartner’s recent report about app trends for 2012. While the forecast doesn’t stray too dramatically from current trending, it does highlight some important developments that are likely to bubble up even higher over the next 18 to 24 months.
The report focuses on apps for high-end devices with an average selling price north of $300. The apps that Gartner predicts will win on those phone and with those users describe an even more mobile lifestyle than consumers currently live.
The most intriguing are apps that focus on mobile payment, context-aware services and object recognition. Mobile payment is probably the hottest thing going in mobile right now, driven by smart and simple apps and falling per-transaction costs that are making mobile payment methods accessible to even the smallest businesses. Context-aware applications, meanwhile, are those that tap information about a user’s interests, history, environment, schedule and more to anticipate their needs and serve up ideas for content, products and services. Object recognition apps recognize the users’ surroundings, typically via a handset’s camera, and use it to provide enhancements like advanced search capabilities.
The Gartner trend list also includes trends like location-based services (Gartner expects the total user base of consumer LBSs to reach 1.4 billion users by 2014), social networking, mobile search (including search functionality that encompasses object recognition), and mobile commerce. While these areas have been touted as hot for a while, the intersection of capable devices and advancing technology is making them even more possible of late, and certainly by 2012 they will be even more embedded in people’s mobile lifestyles.
Gartner also expects mobile instant messaging to take hold in a bigger way into 2012, along with mobile e-mail—which the firm predicts expects to increase from 354 million users in 2009 to 713 million in 2014, accounting for 10.6 percent of the global mobile user base. Finally, Gartner believes larger screens on devices and tablets will drive increasing use of mobile video, as users increasingly replicate their Internet behavior on their mobile phones.