If you are reading our blog you are interested in mobile, or digital convergence, or media, or social networking. Mobile was important five years ago when we started, it is huge now. Digital convergence? All major tech brands now shift mobile to center stage witness Apple's iPad and Google's Android phones and Dell and other PC makers rushing to smartphones. Media? Mobile is now the newest (the 7th) mass media channel. Social networking? All social networks have announced an aggressive strategy headed to mobile starting with Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Wikipedia. So whatever your reason to visit our blog, mobile now in 2010 is more important to your career and interests than it has ever been.
So we do our bit of gazing into the crystal ball to guess the future. But as Alan Moore says, nobody is as clever as everybody. Wouldn't it be great to collect the very best minds on the planet whose full-time job focuses on mobile, and have their collected wisdom of what will happen in this decade? That was the brilliant brain-child of our dear friend Rudy de Waele of M-Trends. Rudy knows just about everybody and he invited them to contribute. Each expert was asked to give only five major trends for the next ten years. Each expert's view is then summarized onto one slide each. The slide set is Mobile Trends 2020.
This really is the who's who of mobile. Alan Moore is there of course. Most of the people we regularly mention on this blog are there, such as Russell Buckley, Ajit Jaokar, Howard Rheingold, Jonathan MacDonald, Tony Fish, Carlo Longino, CEO C Enrique Ortiz, and so many many more people we respect, read and refernce including Rudy's own prediction and yes, I am there too.
The slides are beautifully illustrated and as each expert has one slide where his or her five predictions are summarized, it is an easy slide set to go through. Yes, there is inevitably overlap, but that slide set has just about every relevant thought of any major trend for our industry, that can be foreseen at this point at the start of the new decade. Go read it now. If you have read it already, please go read it again. And bookmark the page, return to it in a few months. That slide set will guide you, your company, your business, your team, your projects and your career - more than any other single website or free resource anywhere.
If this pitch was not enough for you - the slide set has had over 36,000 viewings ! and was the most-viewed slide set for the month of January at Slideshare, I believe the biggest slide-sharing website on the web. Awesome, thanks Rudy on behalf of all of us who were invited to join, and congratulations for a fantastic achievement!
NOW ON MY FIVE PREDICTIONS
I cheated.. Seriously, I promised Rudy to get my predictions in but then it was the Christmas break and I forgot and while he kindly sent several reminders, I was too lazy to get mine in by the first deadline. So my predictions were not in the first edition of the slide set. But Rudy being the kind man that he is, he allowed me to submit mine even after the deadline. And that did allow me to 'cheat' by reading the predicitons of those who had already submitted theirs.
First, I would not disagree to a meanigful degree with any of the experts in the set. In some cases out of five forecasts for a given expert I might disagree with one perhaps, or more likely with the 'degree' of the forecast (maybe it happens earlier or later etc). But I wanted to be able to add to the overall slide set. So there are some forecasts I think are very important but they are already well represented, mentioned by several of the experts, and I wanted therefore to 'add value' to the slide set and selected my forecasts based on that. So yes, I cheated. I tried to 'add to the insights' rather than blindly submit my 5 most relevant forecasts haha.. But you know I did this with the best of intentions and with that in mind, here are my five trends and a bit more on my reasoning why I said so:
SHRINKING SUPERPHONE REACHES 10 DOLLAR COST
This is perhaps the 'easiest' forecast but I think the point was not clear enough in other forecasts. The amazing shrinking phone. Moore's Law tells us that a smartphone of today is as powerful as a laptop 5 years ago, high end desktop 10 years ago, mainframe computer 15 years ago and supercomputer 20 years ago. So the evolution of the smartphone will give us devices in 2020 which are as powerful as a supercomputer from the year 2000. Think about that for a moment. In our pockets, we'll have two such devices, and then we'll be handing them to our kids as hand-me-downs as we get ever more poweful phones. At the same time we get the diminishing price. The 'phone' form factor 'basic' device will be far more capable than todays' top phones and those will cost no more than ten dollars. Meanwhile the 'smartphone' top end devices will be embedded into us in our teeth or under our skin etc.
MOBILE ADVERTISING BECOMES BIGGEST AD PLATFORM
There were many who mentioned mobile marketing and advertising. I don't think anyone else had made this poweful a claim, that by 2020 mobile will have grown past not only internet advertising but print and even TV advertising to become the biggest ad medium by revenues. As mobile advertising today accounts for only 1 percent of all advertising, that is a tall order, but I am confident when we revisit my forecasts in 2020, this will turn out to have become true. If this sounds outrageous to you, please remember that I have had an uncanny accuracy for my long-term forecasts, especially those that were contrarian or unconventional views. I am 100% certain this will happen and very confident we will hit that point before the end of 2020. If not, it will be only a few years after that point.
HALF OF TOTAL ECONOMY IN SOME COUNTRIES TRANSITS THE PHONE
Salaries, mortgage payments, taxes, corporate and government purchases, cars, houses, utility bills, etc. Seem far-fetched? Except that in some countries this is starting to happen already. In two years, 46% of all banking accounts in Kenya had shifted to mobile banking. In South Korea more than half of the population regularly use at least one of the five mobile payments solutions. The point to my forecast is that this will happen in 'some countries' and those will not be the UK or Germany or the USA etc. Those countries will mostly be in the emerging world and countries where the domestic banking industry is not very advanced. So Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Philippines, India, South Africa etc. We do have a long way to go, for even if your salary comes to a phone in say Kenya today, then probably you are not earning much - more afflient Kenyans have 'real' banking accounts and mostly only the poorer members of society have mobile banking accounts. So while soon half of Kenyans will have a mobile banking account, they will not move anywhere near half of the total economy through their accounts. Yet as the economy learns of the power of mobile, the transitions can be fast. Public utilities will give a 5% discount to m-payments in India for example, and Estonia became the first country to have a specific use of money that eliminated cash and only accepts mobile payments - for parking fees. It is a long journey but I am confident there will be several countries where half of the economy will transit mobile payment systems, by 2020.
STAR TREK 'UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR" COMMONPLACE
This is not that big necessarily as a global 'industry' but I am very hopeful that many international issues can be resolved with better communications. If we can talk to our neighbors, we will get to know them better. We can do more business with our neighbors, visit them and engage with them. That in turn should reduce wars, distrust and violence between peoples. So while a smaller 'benefit' this is becoming technically possible already today in some languages (at a crude level text-to-text and voice-to-voice) and well before the decade is done, each phone can do instant translation of any language to any language. Will be very useful for us whose work involved international travel.
OUR PHONE BECOMES MAGICAL SERVANT AS CONSIERGE
This to me is the most exciting prediction. It is also the most difficult to explain. But imagine if you had permanently in your presense a super highly trained and paid secretary or 'personal assistant'. The real person would answer your calls and your messages and like a very highly paid and professional secretary, would know how you want each call and message handled, and would anticipate your needs, warn you of upcoming birthdays, anniversaries; remind you about names and occasions; perfectly remember who was allegic to what food and who liked what kind of restaurants when you need to book a place where to dine; buy the 'right' gifts for your nephews and nieces, etc etc etc. And the secretary would be totally discreet - would never accidentially reveal any secrets say about your health of wealth or whatever even if you happen to gamble or have a sex addiction or drug addiction etc. A total, loyal, discreet and 'perfect' assistant. Available with you 24 hours a day.
Now, unless you're a multimillionaire, you cannot afford such a personal 'servant' but now think of Amazon and Google. Amazon will 'anticipate' your needs in books, movies and music. It will give recommendations to you based on your personal tastes (based on what you have bought or looked at, and then by their algorithm they measure from their total customer base exactly what to recommend to you). It is like magic, that Amazon is reading our minds. And we love it. Also think of Google search. Magical. Fifteen years ago if you wanted to find out how many mobile phone subscribers there are on the planet, you had to order a 2,000 dollar report from a big industrial analyst house. Today you Google it and find a free reference of totally updated numbers at for example this blogsite...
Now imagine the 'anticipation' of Amazon with the 'power' of Google and then add 3G - 4G - 5G telecoms networking speeds and super-hyper-smartphone power. It will be 'easy' to have a digital assistant, as an avatar on our phone, to be not only our secretary - yes, answering our phones like a real secretary - but also our 'consierge' - I 'really' want to have two tickets to tonight's game or concert, a good hotel consierge will be able to get them for you - at a price. So too will our pocket assistant. And the assistant will be our accountant, handling our money - do you have to submit expense claims to your employer? Don't you hate it. Wouldn't you love it if 'someone' would do them 'automatically' and all you need to do is to review them and sign the form and submiut. Magical! and the lawyer while we are at it. How many times did you think - 'are they allowed to do that' - well, now your pocket consierge/assistant/secretary/attorney - will actually pro-actively inform you whenever your rights are abused - and then asssit you with contracts etc. The 'magical' assistant. We will have it as a premium feature on our phones by the end of the decade. A very rudimentary version already exists in Japan and users totally love it.
Those were my five forecasts. Thank you Rudy for selecting the Rosetta Stone as the backdrop for my slde, awesome, my history teacher would be so proud haha.. For you the reader on this blog - please do yourself that favor, go read through those 62 slides. Its a fast read but the most insightful and useful slide set you will read this year, I promise you.