The Crystal Ball For Mobile In 2014

by , Dec 4, 2013, 9:46 AM
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Please forgive the artistic license taken when naming this article -- as I was actually freed from using my crystal ball to compile this list, as these issues for mobile marketers have been brewing over the course of the past year. I will take a stab now at outlining what issues might boil over, and what marketers should be keeping top of mind as we head into 2014.

A Soup of Devices

There is only one factor that will help brands and publishers on mobile in 2014, and that's the disappearance of BlackBerry from people's pockets. Other than that, the device landscape is a kind of soup -- with smartphones merging into phablets and tablets, and a huge range of screen sizes set to trouble anyone deploying digital content, apps and advertising. While Windows Phone continues to show strong growth, it's just not yet big enough in the critical U.S. market to tip over into being anything more than an afterthought for brands. Expect Microsoft to invest heavily, developing both an invested developer base and consumer visibility.

Mobile Payment Going Everywhere and Nowhere

With Apple continuing to exclude NFC from the iPhone, despite the rest of the payments industry lined up to make it happen, there will still be no effective catalyst to make mobile payment in stores habitual. Isis and Google Wallet will continue to struggle for traction, and competitors such as the Merchant Customer Exchange and PayPal will continue to distract consumers and fragment the market. It's reasonable to assume that Apple has something planned, but entering the retail payments space without simply acting as a gateway for Visa and MasterCard payments would require a radical move, such as acquiring a payment scheme like Amex.

Mobile Advertising Goes Native – or Niche

2014 is likely to be tough for mobile display networks. There are hugely encouraging signs that the media business is finally catching up with consumers' eyeballs on their mobile device, but much of this increased spend is through existing channels such as Facebook and Google that have seamlessly transitioned their offering to mobile. This saves both time and effort in the buying process -- priceless commodities in any media agency. But there is still room for a bespoke offering, with broadcasters and publishers continuing to define high-value headline-generating scoops around their premium content. Sandwiched between these two highly palatable areas, plain old display will feel the squeeze.

Fun Times for Retail

There are still huge hurdles to overcome for most retailers delivering true omnichannel experiences -- such as lack of aggregated customer data, poor cellular or WiFi connectivity in stores, and antiquated POS. But those retailers who have spent the past few years busily clearing out legacy systems will be making hay with new technologies such as iBeacon, mobile vouchers, facial recognition and device-equipped assistants to enhance the experience. Mobile will begin to be key in closing the measurement loop between online and retail.

Kids Drive Anarchy in SoMoLo

The decline in teens' usage of Facebook and the rise of new messaging giants SnapChat and WeChat to sit alongside WhatsApp is only the beginning. We should not underestimate kids' aversion to the channels their parents are now colonizing. The volatility and rate of change in this sector will continue unabated, and we should expect to see investors and developers piling in to build and nurture the ‘next Instagram.’ What each of these players will likely have to bear in mind is that messaging has overtaken self-publicity as the decisive factor driving success in this space.

While the only sort of “fortune” I'm typically interested in is always followed by “cookie,” now is a good time to consider the issues, trends and story lines likely to make waves in the New Year. Cheers to an exciting mobile year ahead.

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