Every year, mobile consultant Chetan Sharma polls mobile industry executives, developers and insiders on their predictions for the upcoming year. The survey’s latest edition suggests that the growth of mobile data, mobile payments and the struggle between Apple and Google will again be key story lines in 2013.
For the third year running, mobile payments was identified as the “breakthrough category” for the year ahead, followed by mobile cloud services and mobile commerce.
Last year saw big moves in the space by Square, through its far-reaching partnership with Starbucks, and PayPal, which introduced its own mobile payments system for merchants and expanded mobile wallet trials with U.S. retail chains.
While Apple and Google and their respective iOS and Android platforms are again expected to dominate the mobile landscape in 2013, the survey points to Samsung and Microsoft as third players that could make noise this year. After becoming the largest device mobile phone maker in 2012, Samsung was also named mobile company of the year for last year as well as 2013.
The South Korean consumer electronics giant was picked as the company to launch the most successful mobile gadget in 2013, edging out Apple. Samsung was also cited as the most important industry player overall behind Google and Apple and ahead of others including wireless operators, Amazon, Qualcomm and Facebook.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is the company expected to make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2013 as it tries to gain ground against rivals Apple and Google. With the launch of Windows 8 phones in 2012, the survey also pointed to the Microsoft platform as having the best shot at emerging as a viable third mobile ecosystem beyond iOS and Android.
The report also showed that a majority of the panel believes m-commerce will eclipse e-commerce by 2015 in North American and Asia and by 2020 for the rest of the world. Figures from IBM showed that U.S. mobile purchases during the holiday season increased to about 16% of total online buying, up from less than 10% a year ago. So despite healthy growth, there’s still a long way to go for m-commerce to overtake e-commerce.
Among other predictions for 2013 are heavily rumored developments, including the debut of an Apple television, an Amazon smartphone, and a Microsoft-made smartphone. Industry insiders also project the arrival of data-only plans and for struggling Nokia to adopt Android as a smartphone operating system.
For this year’s survey, the firm’s sample included people representing app developers/entrepreneurs (29%), infrastructure providers (11%), device makers (10%), mobile operators (10%), content/media companies, journalists/analysts (6%), specific industry sectors (6%), corporate suppliers (4%), and “other” (16%).