2012 Mobile Trends And What They Mean For Product Strategists

When revisiting our 2011 mobile trends, Julie Ask and I concluded that many, if not all, of them were still evolving and relevant. We have placed the main new trends for 2012 into four categories: business, ecosystem, consumer expectations, and technology.

Mobile Is A Key Business Strategy Enabler

Product strategists must work with other roles in the organization to:

  • Develop a scalable approach to delivering mobile services. Organizations will need a strategic approach to building and spreading institutional knowledge as well as governance for the development of mobile services.
  • Craft a mobile strategy that extends beyond phones. The emergence of tablets in particular will require a different approach than smartphones.
  • Differentiate on the delivery rather than the content of mobile services. In 2012, “how” mobile services are delivered will differentiate them — not what they offer.

Mobile Ecosystem Success Will Elude Incumbents And Embrace Newcomers

Key mobile ecosystem trends include:

  • The emergence of digital wallets and their extension beyond payment. New technologies will convert smartphones into digital wallets, combining not just payments but also receipts, vouchers, and loyalty schemes.
  • The continuation of the smartphone OS bloodbath. There is still room for a third major OS platform. Windows is an obvious candidate, but Nokia and Microsoft will have to execute perfectly to get back in the game.
  • Amazon and Facebook becoming disruptive distribution forces. Don’t expect successful smartphone plays; it’s more likely that Amazon and/or Facebook will have new roles as platform players.

Consumer Expectations Will Be Both High And Conflicted

Product strategists developing mobile services should take the following into account:

  • Consumers will expect more contextual experiences . . . Phones will have the ability to collect a phenomenal amount of information about a consumer and his environment, offering new product and service opportunities. Expect more smart apps like Withings.
  • . . . but will also worry about privacy and security. Consumers will be increasingly concerned by the commercial use — and security — of their data due to the growing use of mobile for banking and buying.

Emerging Technologies Need Standards And Scale To Succeed

Product strategists excited by new technologies should note that:

  • HTML5 has made phenomenal progress but is not a panacea. Better experiences on native apps and the need for device- and OS-specific optimization will limit uptake.
  • NFC will fail to live up to the hype. Dozens of millions of NFC devices will ship. However, a poor out-of-the-box experience, the lack of consumer education, and complex NFC infrastructure will inhibit use in 2012.
  • Personal cloud-hosted services will grow in importance but won’t scale. Enabling cross-device services will be key, but limited network capacity will inhibit streaming.

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Clients who want to know more about this topic can download the "2012 Mobile Trends For CPS Professionals" report.