The popularity of mobile technology has exploded in recent years. For many users, a smartphone or tablet is their main device for accessing the internet, and desktop PCs and laptops have been relegated to secondary browsing devices. Businesses have known for years that the mobile platform simply cannot be ignored, but now they have to consider that more of their customers will be using mobile technology to buy their products, use their services or engage with their brands. As the technology continues to innovate and grow, the future of mobile may offer interesting developments for businesses and customers alike.
The Growth of Mobile Browsing
Although mobile phone sales fell in 2012, the devices still sold an impressive 1.75 billion units. More importantly, the sales figures also revealed that smartphones continue to make increasing year-on-year sales while basic, entry-level phones have suffered a significant annual drop in sales. More consumers are buying phones which provide higher levels of functionality rather than just call and text features. Mobile Internet access and app support is a standard feature on the cheapest smartphones, and it is expected that mobile browsing will continue to grow as result. Affordable mobile Internet packages and the emergence of 4G networks will lead to more and more users taking advantage of mobile technology. The future will see increased pressure on small and big businesses to offer optimised mobile browsing experiences, and those who don’t embrace mobile could suffer the consequences.
Increased Reliance on Apps
A recent survey of smartphone users from Europe, India and Japan revealed that 85 per cent of the 3,534 participants preferred using apps than mobile websites. However, the same survey also revealed that the majority of users would give up on the app if it crashed once or twice. When developing an app, businesses need to use the platform to provide a better mobile browsing experience. Customers need an incentive to download and install an app and to keep it on their smartphone or tablet. App software should be more streamlined and accessible than a mobile website and take advantage of mobile resources. For example, search apps which have GPS functionality are much quicker for users who are trying to find something in the local area. GPS can also be used to automatically provide suggestions to the user before they have even searched. As mobile browsing continues to rise, even loyal customers may be persuaded to use a different business or website simply because their app is better. With over 825,000 apps available from Apple’s App Store and 850,000 from the Google Play store, the current app market is competitive and can only be expected to become much fiercer in the future.
Although many new smartphone and tablet models boast faster processors and GPUs, the average mobile user is blissfully unaware of what difference, if any, this technology will make their mobile experience. However, these technical breakthroughs open the door to new, impressive technologies that change the way mobile users communicate with one another and how they access information. Video calling has been a feature on smartphones since cameras were introduced, but the advent of faster mobile Internet and improved camera resolution could see more users sending and receiving video calls in public. Similarly, voice recognition tools like Apple’s Siri and Google Now offer different ways for users to input queries and retrieve information from their mobile devices. The emergence of QR codes and Near Field Communication (NFC) chips has also changed the way mobile phones interact with other external technologies. NFC chips in particular are being used in innovative and exciting ways and users can make small payments or read ‘smart posters’ with the NFC chip in their handsets. These new technologies are completely changing the way mobile devices are being used.
Mobile technology isn’t an optional platform that businesses and developers can afford to ignore. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are an essential part of many people’s lives. The rise of mobile browsing has completely changed the way people access information and the flourishing app markets are proof that users rely on apps to streamline the mobile experience.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21441953 – Mobile phone sales 2012
http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/62326-85-of-consumers-favour-apps-over-mobile-websites – Survey reveals that smartphone users prefer apps
http://www.smartposter.co/what-is-nfc – NFC information
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Play#Catalog_content – Number of apps in the Play Store
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/App_Store_(iOS) – Number of apps in the App Store
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