By Brad Ross, Global Trend Forecasting
A few years ago, mobility was described as being a “lean back” experience; like kicking back and watching TV. Today, it’s officially a “lean forward” action, like searching to make a purchase. Our flexibility in how we do life has exponentially progressed just within the last few years. We’ve all read the articles about the major shift to mobile devices and the impact of them as the dominant means of accessing the internet. But have we really stopped to recognize how quickly we’ve become undeniably dependent on our mobiles? Data released at the end of 2014 states, “Mobile has beaten TV as America’s first screen and time spent on mobile devices has grown in the US by 9.3%. That is almost three hours per day spent on mobile devices by the average American consumer.” - US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Even as I write this, I’m doing a quick inventory of my daily tasks, completed on my smart phone. It is astounding to say the least, encompassing far more than emails and social media. I read the news, listen to music, do my banking, create and edit videos and updates for my business, and even provide myself a wifi hot spot for my daughter’s online school (all while on a train traveling at 259 km per hour).
It is obvious that the prophesies were not only correct, but have now been far surpassed. With our mobile devices as the primary screen, they have undoubtedly crossed to the mainstream and emerging economies at digital speed. Much of the credit goes to companies like www.themobilelife.com that work with the world’s leading companies to manage development of mobile apps, allowing us new and convenient ways to manage daily tasks. For example, Companies like venmo.com provide P2P (peer to peer) payment options, making the act of payment and purchasing a seamless, easy process.
However, Where is it going and what can we expect?
The trends can partly be found within data-based information such as this from “We Are Social”: “We expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during 2016, or Combined, mobile phones and tablets now account for 38% of all web pages served around the world.” (http://wearesocial.net/blog/2015/01/digital-social-mobile-worldwide-2015/)
But, there are three trends that can be extracted from the public’s proclivity for not only piloting their life from a mobile device, but desiring apps that engage human emotions.
(1) Apps like Miranda July’s, Somebody, specializes in the unexpected. With this app, when you send a message, it doesn’t go to your intended friend, but instead, to the “Somebody” user nearest him or her. This person (a stranger), then delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. The app was brilliantly showcased in fashion industry’s, Miu Miu’s campaign last year. A must see! https://youtu.be/iz13HMsvb6o
(2) The newest version of Humans of New York, which provides storytelling and a meaningful narrative, is available on the Instagram account, WeNeverMet, using the intriguing photo of a stranger’s back as the starting point for “a series of conversations we never had.” https://instagram.com/wenevermet/
(3) In a world of transparency and always-on access, the things that do not last, or that can be truly locked away, become all the more precious. Transitory or (time sensitive) social messaging like Snapchat, continues its’ growth, being the 3rd fastest growing social and messaging apps worldwide as of the 1st quarter of 2015.. (http://www.statista.com/statistics/381933/messaging-social-app-user-growth/)
So in terms of business opportunities, mobility is the constant focus, with the mobile device as the means by which we will do life. The consumers and tech industry are setting ever-new standards, with the future of mobile delivering far more than algorithms. It will increasingly hinge on human emotions through meaningful narratives, with the element of surprise and human delight. This new market will flip the “because you watched/bought/read... you’ll love...” on its head, by connecting its’ users with the truly unexpected.