Two broad-based aspects of Google's strategy could start to have more far-reaching implications in 2010. One, is that despite its adherence to "open," it is also making more of a vertical integration play, with the rumored Google phone and deeper incursions than even Apple into the services stack. Second, it is one of the key players in a more "cloud-based" approach to mobile (see next point).
4. Mobile and the cloud
The evolution toward cloud-based services will be one of the transformative elements of our industry over the next three to five years. It has the potential to propel sales of a range of new devices, improve the economics of data, address power consumption, and reduce the complexity of our "multi-screen" world. But there's still lots to be sorted out, as far as mobile is concerned. For example, how will cloud-based services and apps work in "off-line" mode? And while Internet heavyweights such as Amazon will surely play a role, I believe cloud services represent an important strategic opportunity for the operators--after all, they own significant network, storage, billing, and customer information assets.
5. Important year for mobile advertising
Despite the lofty purchase price for AdMob, mobile remains a rounding error in most brands' ad budgets. I think 2010 is when it starts to get real. First, we are crossing important thresholds with respect to the installed base of smartphones and devices with good HTML rendering. We don't see pushback from customers presented with ads on devices with a good UI. I also think we're going to move toward more of a TV/Internet model for mobile advertising, with some aspect of free or reduced price content in return for willingness to view ads, and perhaps willingness to allow some information to be shared in order to deliver more targeted, contextually relevant ads. Also, expect one or two more acquisitions by big Internet players (Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Amazon) of the leading mobile ad network players (Quattro Wireless, Jumptap, Millennial).
6. Lots of activity in imaging
We're entering the third phase of imaging in mobile. Phase one was the proliferation of camera phones. Phase two was finding ways to more effectively get pictures and videos from phones onto photo share sites and social networking platforms. With good quality cameras and even video now on phones, there's huge potential to do more. Some areas to keep your eyes on:
- Greater focus on image quality (and it's not just about megapixel count)
- Improved video recording, quality, and file compression, as we see a morphing of the Flip and the phone.
- Search, advertising, and commerce opportunities. Goggles, announced last week, is an important example. Images captured from camera phones will be used to deliver product information, targeted ads, and coupons. We're also in the early stage of bar code/QR code capture--an area that has developed rapidly in Japan and South Korea but has lagged here.
In sum, 2009 was a year where development occurred along many of the tracks that were laid in 2008. I believe that in 2010, we will see far more transformative and disruptive developments.
Mark Lowenstein, a leading industry analyst, consultant, and commentator, is Managing Director of Mobile Ecosystem. Click here to subscribe to his free Lens on Wireless monthly newsletter. For more insight into future wireless trends, please join Mark and industry visionaries from Nokia, Microsoft and Charles River Ventures for an exciting Fierce Live! Premium Webinar, Disruptive Technologies That Will Alter the Wireless World, tomorrow, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. ET.