10 key mobile trends for 2015

MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce, looks at the year ahead to predict the ten key mobile trends that will shape the global mobile landscape in 2015.

The predictions leverage the expert and diverse insights from MEF’s Global Board of Directors as well as its recently published fourth annual Global Mobile Consumer Survey which studied responses from 15,000 consumers in 15 countries to understand the major mobile content and commerce trends from wearables and mHealth to mobile payments, consumer privacy and trust.

1. Vertical market ecosystems will drive the adoption of wearable technology.

MEF’s Global Consumer Survey showed that in 2014, wearables aren’t ‘a thing’ yet.

However, moving beyond glasses and experimentation, 2015 will see wearable sensor technology support the entry of major vertical sectors such as mHealth and personal safety.  The single killer app that breaks wearables out of the companion category will remain elusive with niche sector growth coming from the volume of devices and services rather than one single device or service dominating.

2. NFC will finally take off.

After years of false starts, NFC will make progress in different markets driven by both new applications for example use in transit systems as well as changes to regulatory infrastructure in the US. Other countries will follow.

3. Direct Carrier Billing will continue to grow outside of the US.

Continued technology advancements and improving commercial and regulatory conditions will see carrier direct billing in all markets outside of North America used to purchase more digital goods such as apps, streaming content and software as well as make advances in the area of physical retail in particular vending items and transport tickets. In Latin America carrier billing will gain momentum to address the high number of unbanked (60% of the population) on the basis of its cashless convenience and accessibility.

4. Mobile 3.0 continues to take hold as consumers interact with fewer apps for much longer periods of time.

In 2014 mobile media users became more selective about the number of apps they engage with. According to MEF’s Global Consumer Survey 57 per cent of respondents in the US and 53 per cent in the UK only have a few favourite apps they use each day.  This trend will continue in 2015 as the market continues to shift toward Mobile 3.0. with streaming services replacing millions of discrete downloads and transactions with one recurring tariff.

5. New business models will erode net-neutrality

There will be visible growth in the use of non net-neutral services from mobile network operators by Content Providers including a higher quality of service and zero-rated data to consumers. This trend will be particularly prevalent in growth markets such as Africa.

6. Mobile services in growth markets will drive social inclusion and fuel a wave of infrastructure and economic transformation.

The increasing availability of smartphones in growth economies such as Nigeria and India will drive ‘mobile-first’ markets, accelerated by initiatives such as Wikimedia zero and mobile wallets for the unbanked. 2015 will see the rise of innovative companies disrupting traditional verticals to solve real world problems around health, transport and agriculture.

7. Consumer trust as a key differentiator in 2015

At 34 per cent a lack of consumer trust remains the biggest barrier to purchase anything via the mobile device dwarfing factors such as network speeds (11 per cent). Mobile businesses that put consumer trust at the heart of the user experience will mark themselves out against their competitors.  Areas such as tokenization in transactions, transparency and consent, parental controls and plain English privacy policies will all be under the spotlight in 2015 and have a strong impact on how companies build consumer interfaces.

8. Europe will take the lead in mobile security and privacy and will see a wave of new applications exploiting mobile-enabled functions such as authentication.

The new European Data Protection Regulation will have a direct impact on all companies that depend on data in and beyond the mobile ecosystem. Trusted identity will become a new service enabled by mobile devices, contributing to consumer security and confidence and will see a wave of new applications exploiting mobile’s native functions such as authentication. Europe will take a leadership position in mobile security, driven by new regulations from the European Central Bank, Governments and data privacy regulators.

9. Automotive will become the latest vertical sector to lock in to the mobile ecosystem

2015 will see car manufacturers increasingly incorporate 4G connectivity as an option on new models, driving partnerships with mobile content companies and opening up the sector to a wave of in-car mobile content and commerce.

10. Latin America will have to navigate shifting market dynamics

Smartphone penetration in the region will continue to be driven by Brazil, Mexico and Peru, but notably for the first time Chile and Colombia will have more Smartphone users than feature phone users. In 2015, expect to see MNO consolidation and the formation of new strategic partnerships particularly around niche verticals in the ecosystem as well as innovation and revenue streams opening up from mobile money, new content business models and mobile ad revenues.

Andrew Bud, MEF Global Chair, said: “Driven by the widespread adoption of smartphones, consumer desire and business innovation, 2014 saw mobile 3.0 gather momentum as the primary digital channel to perform the widest range of everyday tasks.  MEF’s 4th annual Global Consumer Survey clearly indicates these changes – from payments to health and from entertainment to banking the mobile ecosystem continues to expand and evolve.

“And it’s not just in developed markets. Growth markets such as Africa, India, Mexico and Brazil have positioned themselves as major contributors to the global mobile economy both in terms of the innovations they create and the demand from their consumers. They are rich in the smaller companies whose creativity is a motor for mobile development worldwide.

“In 2015 the dynamic mobile ecosystem will see vertical sectors like health, automotive and home automation fully embrace mobile innovation, whilst the growth economies will provide an increasing share of innovation and opportunity and new, agile companies will be seen as the drivers of change.”

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