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The World’s Biggest Tech Trend Will Get Even Bigger in 2013

In 2011, we labeled this “the fastest-growing and biggest technological trend ever.”

We were bold on this massive global phenomenon then – and we’re still bold on it now.

Even more so, in fact.

I’m talking about the explosive growth of mobile devices. Growth that continues unabated.

For example, 2013 will herald a major global milestone: The first time that more people will use their mobile phones to access the internet than with traditional PCs.

In fact, that already happened in India this year. It came on the back of a 52% year-over-year surge in smartphone subscriptions, according to research from Mary Meeker at Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers (KPCB).

And get this: Smartphones still only represent 4% of the total mobile market in the country.

Can you say “room to grow?”

This shift from desktop web access to mobile connectivity isn’t surprising, given the proliferation of mobile devices over the past few years. According to KPCB’s research, the landmark moment came in the fourth quarter of 2010, when global shipments of smartphones and tablets exceeded PC shipments – a trend that has continued ever since.

Meeker exposes other revealing statistics inside the trend, including:

  • In the United States, 29% of adults now own either a tablet or an e-reader.
  • Mobile devices now make up 13% of global internet traffic – over three times higher than in 2010.
  • The world’s 1.1 billion smartphone subscribers still only make up 17% of the global cellphone market.

Again, these numbers highlight one compelling takeaway: There’s still plenty of room to grow. In fact, Gartner says that by 2015, over 80% of phones in developed markets will be smartphones.

And that sets the stage for some serious corporate fireworks…

Ready to Rumble in 2013

Next year promises to intensify the already epic scrap for mobile market share among Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT).

The tech tug-of-war between iOS, Android and Windows 8 is critical when you consider the massive shift in mobile trends. Devices have quickly morphed from mere accessories to essential items.

For example, the number of global mobile subscriptions passed landline installations at around the one billion mark back in 2002. Since then, landline growth has only increased marginally, while mobile subscriptions have blasted to almost five billion (as of 2009), according to the International Telecommunications Union.

And that’s resulting in another significant trend shift…

Check out this chart from Flurry Analytics, which shows a big increase in the amount of time Americans spend with their smartphones each day now, compared to web-surfing on a desktop computer and watching television.

With Apple’s iPad mini and Microsoft’s Surface tablet hitting the market last month, you can expect this pattern to continue.

But the mobile revolution is multi-layered. In addition to a consumer boom in mobile, businesses are embracing the trend, too…

Business Goes (More) Mobile

Once upon a time, the BlackBerry was the go-to device for road warrior employees.

But those days are long gone, with Research In Motion (RIMM) choking on the dust from Apple and Google. And now that Windows 8 has joined the mobile fray, the marketplace just got even more crowded.

The result? Research from Juniper shows that by 2014, the number of smartphones and tablets used for business will double to around 350 million.

Companies know it, too.

They’re increasingly adapting their internal networks to be compatible with multiple mobile platforms. Quoted in Computer World, one chief technology officer says that his firm has built both iOS and Android mobile apps, with one that separates personal data from business applications.

But there’s no doubt that Apple and Google are the dominant players here. And when I say “dominant,” we’re talking about them collectively boasting a 90% share of the mobile market, according to IDC.

Welcome to “m-Commerce”

In addition to consumers and the workforce benefitting from the mobile revolution, businesses themselves are embracing “m-comm.” Basically, the mobile version of e-commerce, where consumers shop, pay bills and do business with their smartphones.

Quoted in travel website, EyeforTravel, Chris Blakely, Vice-President of Client Services at comScore (SCOR), states: “Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable using their phones for commerce – and this is a trend that will only continue.”

But how?

My colleague, Justin Fritz, has written extensively on a concept called Near-Field Communication (NFC). Simply put, semiconductor technology is embedded in smartphones, with the chips storing a user’s personal details, like credit card numbers. So your phone becomes a digital wallet. When paying for goods in a store, for example, you just wave the phone over a compatible payment terminal (like MasterCard’s PayPass system). The phone and terminal “communicate” and complete the transaction. No credit card necessary.

Google Wallet is at the forefront of this area. But we’re more interested in the companies that make the semiconductors for the phones. Like NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), which is one of the leading suppliers.

Not to mention the companies that will inevitably provide added layers of security that consumers will require before embracing mobile payments en masse. Like biometrics firms Aware (AWRE) and ImageWare Systems (IWSY).

We’ll be talking about the mobile revolution a lot more in Tech & Innovation Daily… because it’s most definitely here to stay. And it’s loaded with profit potential.

Ahead of the tape,

Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

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