Trends: Mobile Video, Messaging Apps To Soar

The rise of mobile video, consolidation in the mobile payments market and the spread of smartwatches are some of the industry trends in store for 2014.

The mobile research firm Yankee Group predictions focus on areas such as mobile data and how network operators will meet the challenge of popular messaging and other apps by bolstering their own enhanced services. For each prediction, Yankee Group also named a prospective winner and loser as a result of expected changes.

Among the more media-focused developments forecast:

*Mobile video watching will match that on PCs: A variety of factors including better devices, faster networks and more affordable data plans is leading consumers to spend more time watching video -- beyond just short, viral content—on their mobile devices. In addition to reaching PC levels (in terms of frequency, not volume), mobile video viewing by some measures will begin to approach that of TV and DVR.

Winners: Operations with the spectrum and capital to build networks that can unleash potentially explosive demand for mobile video.

Losers: Sprint and T-Mobile, trailing in 4G network rollouts.

*More than half of networks will offer their own communication apps: Faced with the exploding popularity of IP-based messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger and iMessage, network operators in developed markets will increasingly introduce competing apps to try to offset declines in SMS text messaging.

Winners: Leading independent messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line and Viber will only become more popular in 2014, and partner with operators to extend their reach.

Losers: Traditional mobile messaging platforms, such as Acision, Comverse and Telsis.

More companies will exit than enter the mobile POS market: Mobile payment startups, such as Square and PayAnywhere, have gained much attention in the last year. The number of vendors in the mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) space overall has tripled. But with slowing growth in the small business market they focus on, Yankee Group foresees a wave of consolidation coming in 2014.

Winners: Vendors, including Square and Intuit, with value-added services stemming from a first-mover advantage.

Losers: Undifferentiated companies, like PayAnywhere and Jusp, that offer little other than payment acceptance.

New wearable tech players will alter the market: Few high-tech products generated more buzz in 2013 than Google Glass, in part because so few were seen in the wild. While costly smart glasses are likely to remain a rarity among consumers, smartwatches and other wrist-based applications are expected to see growing demand.

Winners: Companies such as Fitbit, Misfit and Pebble will likely lead the way with their competitively priced fitness tracking products.

Losers: Operators that ignore the wearable tech market, regardless of whether current offerings support direct network connections.

*Marketing investment for mobile measurement will increase: To capitalize on mobile data and app use, marketers want the same type of behavioral insights provided by Web tools like Adobe Omniture and Google Analytics. To gain that capability, companies in 2014 will start to allocate more of their budgets to the mobile customer experience. In two years, this spend will outpace that of IT development, according to Yankee Group.

Winners: Companies providing app analytic tools, such as Appboy, Kontagent and Localytics, as well as app optimization specialists, like Artisan Mobile.

Losers: Companies that don’t offer tools that really personalize the mobile experience: Adobe PhoneGap, Antenna (now Pegasystems) and Kony. 

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