2013 mobile business predictions


By 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the internet, according to research company Gartner. By 2015, more than 80 per cent of handsets sold in mature markets will be smartphones – meaning mobile phones with computing power similar to desktop computers will be in the hands of millions, Gartner says.

Looking ahead, screens are unlikely to get much bigger, but powerful dual-core and quad-core processors will make it easier for employees to use their phones to access and share data ranging from corporate email, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations or chunky PDF reports.

“For most businesses, smartphones and tablets will not entirely replace PCs, but the ubiquity of smartphones and the increasing popularity of tablets are changing the way businesses look at their device strategies, and the way consumers embrace devices,” says Carolina Milanesi, Gartner’s research vice president.

Smartphones can make life easier for workers on the move, but so-called bring your own device (BYOD) accessing of secure company systems can increase data security risks. IT departments will need to educate workers and protect company information when smartphones are lost, says Paul Lee, a technology expert at professional services firm Deloitte.

He explains that some IT departments are already able to wipe the content of employees’ mobile phones remotely, sending a text message to destroy key data.

In terms of popularity, Google’s mobile operating system Android is powering nearly 60 per cent of smartphones sold in the UK, followed by Apple’s IOs and then RIM’s BlackBerry models. A new BlackBerry phone is expected to be released in early-2013 which may turn round the fortunes of the troubled company.

Ones to watch…
RIM (BB10 launch)


Sales of tablets – portable and lightweight computers with touch screens – have rocketed since the device was popularised by Apple’s iPad in 2010. Most tablets, which are lighter than ordinary computers and laptops though lacking proper keyboards, are used by consumers.

However, tablets are spreading into the business world, especially for mobile workers who spend a lot of time out of the office and need to access to corporate data.

Gartner’s most recent tablet device report, in November 2012, estimates that businesses will buy 13 million tablets in 2012, rising to 53 million in 2016.  The launch of Apple’s iPad mini offers a rival slighter, smaller option to the Kindle; Apple claims three million minis and iPad 4s were sold within three days of launch.

Deloitte’s Paul Lee predicts that next year tablet screens will get slightly bigger – an inch or so – by reducing the size of the table’s frame, in an effort to make web browsing easier.

With the new Surface from Microsoft joining the Kindle Fire and Samsung’s Galaxy in the battle to break Apple’s dominance – 95 per cent market share in the UK, according to Ofcom – tablet computers and the personal cloud could threaten the PC market, and companies with no mobile presence could suffer.

Laptops and PCs will not disappear, however, says Mr Lee. It’s much easier to write long documents on them. But as tablets get more powerful, it will be easier to do more complex tasks such as spreadsheets.

Ones to watch…

Apple (iPad mini)
Samsung (Galaxy)
Amazon (Kindle Fire)
Microsoft (Surface)
Windows 8 tablets 

Mobile payments 

Britons will spend about £900 million on goods and services using their mobile phones this Christmas, Interactive Media In Retail Group and Capgemini predict.

By 2020, 50 per cent of all Visa transactions will be made through a mobile device. “Mobile presents an opportunity to be the centre of consumers’ financial lives,” says Mary Carol Harris, Visa vice president, mobile strategic alliances.

Technology, including near field communication or wave and pay is being built into new smartphones. Personal payment services (money-transfer services via mobile phones) will become more common.

Also watch out for plug-in terminals, which allow smartphones and tablets to accept credit and debit card payments, meaning businesses don’t have to buy till systems.

Mobile applications or apps (mini computer programs downloaded on to mobile phones) will turn phones into wallets. Mobile Money Network’s app lets users pay for products from retailers, including HMV and Thomas Pink, by entering a code or image when they see a product online in a poster or in a newspaper.

Ones to watch…

Monitise and Cognizant
Weve (Joint venture between EE, Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK)
MasterCard and EE
Samsung (NFC enabled Galaxy S III)

Mobile messaging

Nearly 15 trillion messages will be sent from mobile phones this year soaring to a staggering 28.2 trillion by 2017, Juniper Research predicts.

Much of the growth will come from free internet-based instant messaging services, such as eBuddy, iMessage, Nimbuzz and WhatsApp, although SMS text messages will still account for most of the traffic.

In Europe, mobile operators are developing software that will allow customers to use instant messaging, share live videos, and transfer files on any device and mobile network.

Businesses can use messaging services and location-based technology to communicate with customers and their workers, for example updating them about corporate IT system problems or free office space.

Retailers will soon be able to send video messages to customers, meaning potential shoppers heading out for a bout of shoe shopping may receive rival offers, cut-price deals and information about the latest stock – provided, of course, they’ve agreed to receive such messages. Some analysts fear this means mobile messaging as a marketing device will alienate up-market shoppers.

Ones to watch…

GSMA – Rich Communication Suite
Wireless Industry Partnership
Groupe Speciale Mobile Association

Mobile marketing

Spending on mobile advertising increased by 132 per cent to £181.5 million in the first half of 2012, according to a recent report by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK and PwC.

As the market grows, mobile advertising networks, such as Google’s AdMob, will help organise and place advertising inventory.

Augmented reality technology – which uses a smartphone or a tablet to layer extra information, often video or animation, over an onscreen image of the real world – will play a bigger role in companies’ marketing over the next few years, the experts say.

Consumers who have downloaded an app can point their phone at a beer mat, poster or newspaper article, to get information or images.

More retailers will use in-store wi-fi to interact with customers. “Instead of the consumer seeing the ad while watching a television show, they will receive the mobile ad while they’re actively shopping in a store, or the ad leads them directly to the online store,” according to mobile marketing company Amobee. 

Ones to watch…

GSMA – Rich Communication Suite

Mobile data

UK businesses will be able to save time and cut travel expenses through video conferences and share corporate data quicker as mobile 4G services begin to hit the market.

EE’s 4G network, which will be available in 16 UK cities by the end of the year, offers mobile internet access of up to five times faster than 3G. It will be available on the Apple iPhone 5 as well as other devices, including Samsung and Nokia.

In countries that already have 4G, such as Japan, Germany and the United States, businesses say the technology has helped them increase innovation, boost productivity and cut costs, according to research by EE and Arthur D. Little.

However, UK business will probably have to wait a couple of years before 4G coverage is nationwide.  Before then, they should work out if the reliability and cost of 4G is sufficient to justify a move from fixed-line broadband. 

Ones to watch…

Telefonica UK (O2) and Vodafone UK


Revenue from social media will be $16.9 billion (£10.6 billion) in 2012, up 43 per cent from 2011, Gartner predicts.

Around one in two UK businesses have adapted their business strategies to use more social media to market their brand and interact with customers, according to a survey commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau and LBi, a global marketing and technology agency.

It’s early days for social media in business. Retailers, however, could encourage customers to use picture-sharing technology, such as Pinterest, to advertise their brand and encourage customers to share retail pictures.

Internal social networks are proving their worth to companies like Salesforce.com, which tallies employees influence based on how useful their postings are to the rest of the staff. Top influencers join the company’s board at quarterly retreats to brief senior management.

These networks are used by the likes of IBM to encourage staff to share information and ideas, helping mobile sales teams access key research before a meeting. This software is particularly appealing to staff in their 20s who don’t use email outside work, says Jass Sarai, a technology expert at PwC.

Ones to watch…



Cloud technology – computing power stored on the internet rather kit stored on a company’s premises – is one of the big trends in business IT.

The cloud, which enables companies to have computer services on tap like gas or electricity, is touted as way for business to save money.

Ben Dowd, business director at mobile operator 02, says UK customers in the public and private sectors have increased spending on technology that workers can access from any location.

“In 2013, we expect to see this trend continue to evolve, with growing adoption of bring your own device initiatives across organisations,” Mr Dowd says. “Cloud and mobile services will become more important than ever in enabling the enterprise workforce.” 

Building a corporate cloud can be tricky, though, which is why some companies are using cloud services brokerages. These consultancies help businesses pick the right cloud service from an ever-growing list of suppliers, and also advise on data security and how to cut IT costs.

Ones to watch…

Apple (iCloud)
Six Degrees Group

Mobile apps

There will be 310 billion downloads of mobile apps by 2016, generating sales of $74 billion (£47 billion), Gartner predicts.

Mobile apps for consumers, such as the Angry Birds game and WhatsApp, a messaging system for smartphones, are the bestsellers, but business apps are becoming more popular.

They’re also getting more sophisticated thanks to HTML5, the newest version of the mark-up language for presenting content on the web.

Suppliers of business intelligence – software which helps workers share data about customers, products or company finances – have made app versions of products for smartphones and other mobile devices.

MicroStrategy, a US software supplier specialising in business intelligence which supplies Starbucks coffee company, has a product which lets mobile workers submit orders, approve or deny requests, and do other types of transactions that connect to back-office computer systems.

Mobile apps can be useful for market research. PwC’s free app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times. The firm analyses the most read stories viewed by users on the app to help it understand customers’ interests.

Ones to watch…