Top 10 2015 Mobile Predictions – Plus 1 for Good Measure


It’s time for my 2015 Mobile Predictions. I couldn’t fit them into just 10 so I added one more for good measure. The mobile predictions cover everything from cars to advertising, developers to commerce and how could it be complete without talking about big data and wearables.  Almost half of the world will have a connected computer in their pocket by the end of the year. With over 3.5 billion people wielding a smartphone, how can companies not address this and not have a mobile strategy? So I offer my 2015 Mobile Predictions to help you in your journey this year.



So, here we are again. I am stubborn enough to say it again. Mobile usage/connectedness in our vehicles will increase. More and more cars, even low-end automobiles include screens connected to our mobile device. Google now has announced it may launch a native Android Auto that does not require being connected to your Android smartphone.  Apple’s CarPlay enables vehicle information centers to mirror a version of the iOS into the automobile enabling drivers to use specific apps like Google Maps or iTunes.


Google’s Android Auto today requires a smartphone be plugged in before it can mirror the OS to a vehicle’s Infotainment center. Credit: Google

Time for brands to step up and integrate into the auto industry.


Mobile First Design – digital strategy at every touchpoint

It’s sad to see that not all companies have learned to design their sites for mobile first, or at all. Even when some do, their landing pages and home pages still lack the understanding of what it means to be mobile. With some sites getting over 50% of their visits from mobile, it cannot be put off any longer. This thinking is past due. It is now time to bring your mobile strategy into every touchpoint in the customer journey. Mobile is no longer a convenience. Your mobile strategy must go beyond simply being on your customer’s phone.

Customers expect every brand they interact with to have an app or at the very least a mobile-friendly website. They want to get any information or service immediately and in context. Forrester states “Today, 18% of US online consumers have this expectation, while 30% are in the midst of a transition to this mobile mind shift. 42% of the total population globally will own a smartphone by the end of 2015.” These always-connected consumers and workers will abandon your business if it does not understand where they are and what they want.

Forrester: “Not since the advent of the Internet, has a technology forced businesses to rethink completely how they win, serve and retain customers. Mobile has completely shifted consumer expectations. Today, consumers expect to get anything they need immediately.” The Web is being replaced by the computers in our pockets–already more time is spent on mobile apps than on the Web.

The gap is increasing between the leaders and laggards.

Leaders will

  • Use mobile to transform the customer experience and their business.
  • Anticipate the needs and engage at the right moment, the mobile moment.
  • Understand that mobile is not a destination but an always-on experience.
  • Acknowledge mobile is not a smaller version of the desktop experience.
  • Seek for mobile to transform business models both in cost structure and revenue generation.
  • Build a new set of partners to engage customers no matter what app they use. Use mobile interactions beyond just an app or website to serve their customers.

Mobile moments go beyond the consumers and should be viewed at the employee level too. While this is very important, only a handful of companies will do this and do it right in 2015. Expect the leaders to address this in 2016.

Expect to see an increase in face-to-face interactions aided by tablets.


Mobile Ownership: from IT to Marketing to Customer Experience

Businesses will begin to get over the idea that apps are permanent. They will begin to be seen as another tool in the marketing toolbox. This helps move the ownership from IT to marketing for many mobile initiatives in 2015.  Progressive brick and mortar companies will take it to the next and drill down to the customer experience department.

IT could still have a role in more progressive companies with the building of more business to employee apps. These apps will be targeted micro apps with a singular purpose. The dissemination of information will move away from computers and email to mobile apps, push notifications and text messaging. Look for sales and HR to be the leaders in early enterprise app development initiatives.

Business mobile apps will move from being a novelty to an integral part of running a company. An indicator may be the 2014 partnership of Apple and IBM to develop B2E applications to meet the specific needs of enterprise.

Now for something I’ve been talking about for over a year…Look for gamification to be used as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. Businesses will use feedback, measurement and incentives techniques like game designers to keep employees interested and achieve the needed results to transform their business.

IT will not be the sole owners of all mobile apps.


Mobile Advertising

Research shows that by the end of 2014, mobile advertising will make up nearly 10 percent of the U.S. advertising market, surpassing newspapers, magazines and radio for the first time ever. Mobile advertising numbers will still continue to grow as more companies add it to their arsenal. However, the effectiveness will continue to be questioned. Studies have shown that about half of the clicks are due to fat thumb syndrome and bounce rates are high. The effectiveness will creep towards, if not be lower than, Internet display ads. This year’s Gartner Hype Cycle places mobile advertising as emerging out of the trough and on its way to the Slope of Enlightenment. We can only pray they are right. The only way I see this happening is through the increased use of mobile video for ads and the increased acceptance and usage of geo-targeting ads.

Socintel360 estimates that US native ad spending will rise 46.7% to hit $3.2 billion in 2014. Double-digit growth is expected to continue through 2018, when native ad investments in the US are forecast to reach $8.8 billion following a gain of 23.9% that year.

That being said, expect brick-and-mortar companies to give more weight to geo-targeted/location-based mobile ad click thru rates than desktop. Secondary actions of mobile ads are much more immediate and telling than desktop. Since mobile allows for proximity, in-store sales can be a great indicator of a campaign’s success.


Facebook is the only one that may actually be getting it correct right now. Two-thirds of their ad revenue jump of 64% was due to mobile. Facebook’s mobile strategy bypasses current technology infrastructure issues in emerging marketing and formats ads as missed calls. If a consumer show interest in the ad, it is relayed back to the advertiser and the advertiser can call the user back and deliver the information thus transforming the mobile-ad experience.

Growth continues. Effectiveness questioned.


Top Quality US Freelancers: short supply and high demand

Freelancers are being snatched up like plastic eggs at an Easter egg hunt. Businesses are making the move to round out their internal mobile development teams. In doing so, they are taking the high quality developers off the market and making them unavailable for the majority of the U.S. This will lead to fewer startups and slower development for small businesses.


The Law of Supply and Demand takes its toll on the little guys.


Real-time Becomes the Benchmark: beacons, WiFi, hyper-relevant marketing communication

We’ve seen Macy’s, McDonalds and a few other companies wade into the shallow waters of proximity marketing with beacons this year. Expect to see this number grow dramatically during 2015. Google reports that 71 percent of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience. Brick-and-mortar stores will endorse geo-location based mobile beacons as the way to deliver digital and mobile couponing to keep the in-store shopping experience from becoming antiquated.

Don’t expect it to only be push messages to your phones. Look for leading companies to improve the in-store experience with information to screens, displays and customer service devices to reduce the intrusive nature of push notifications.  Many will still only send out push notifications while trying to figure out the right number to send. The laggards continue to resist and fall behind in sales and loyalty. Retail associates will become personal shoppers providing personal experiences for customers checking inventory, recommendations and offers. CMOs must take advantage of customer-centric innovation to make customer retention a top priority. It is the key success metric for the whole company.

The next level stores will be using before the end of the year will be predicting rather than reacting. Early stage proximity marketing has been reacting, for example sending coupons to you as you walk by or telling you about the special that is nearby. As data increases about you and your purchases, predictive messaging will come into play and the communication will be more targeted to your preferences and your future needs.

Look for Qualcomm’s new LTE Direct technology to compete with Bluetooth-Low Energy (BLE).  The Qualcomm device can transmit to any device within 500 meters and is very efficient compared to BLE. The message it sends can work across multiple apps so you don’t have to have the specific store app to receive relevant messaging/notifications.

Prediction rather than reaction will be the push at the end of the year.
Can the usage of beacons and NFC finally turn the tables on showrooming?


Hardware: Size Matters

Although Apple doesn’t want to use the word Phablet for its larger iPhone 6 Plus, that’s exactly what it is. Let’s call a duck a duck. Phablets continue to grow in market share and is predicted to continue the trend. This is good for marketers since phablets display higher conversion rates that closely mimic that of tablets.


Source: Netbiscuits Web Trends Report, Q3 2014

Expect to see more companies launch more 5-6 inch models in 2015 and market share to grow to 20-25%.

Bigger is better.


Apple_PayMass acceptance of mobile payments but not usage

I’m not nearly as bullish on mobile payments as others in the industry are. Apple Pay will increase mainstream acceptance. Usage will grow in the U.S., however it will not be as large as many people have predicted. The digital wallet is not dead but altered. Apple Pay will not be accepted at every location. Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) and the large players who are a part of it have already kicked Apple Pay out of their stores and will not accept it in the near future. With the likes of WalMart, Target, Lowes, Sears and CVS not accepting Apple Pay, it’s going to continue to struggle this year to make the impact others are predicting.

Apple Pay is still a novelty. It will not replace the wallet anytime soon. I can still pay with cash and/or credit card just as easily and more instinctually than paying with a mobile device.

The sad state of affairs in the U.S. is that we are already so far behind the curve compared to several Asian, Middle Eastern and even extremely poor African countries that have been using mobile payments for years with mass acceptance and mass usage. Around 21% of consumers in developing nations do not have access to credit or banking facilities. This number is higher in most African countries that already use a SMS system like mPesa and prefer to purchase through their mobile operator.


POS – EMV & contactless terminals increase

Samsung is working on introducing its own mobile payment solution next year and it could be LoopPay which works with legacy point-of-sale (POS) terminals and therefore could be more widely accepted. Look for a large shift of brick-and-mortar companies accepting mobile payments by the end of the summer with the new EMV requirement deadline of October 2015. Many companies are waiting to make the move until the last minute and will make the jump to add mobile payment acceptance the same time they upgrade their hardware and software to accept EMV credit cards.

Now is the time for banks and issuers to re-establish communication channels with customers. The new mobile payment system could open channels for them that have since been closed off. Financial firms must build more engaging and innovative payment experiences to remain relevant going forward.

Near-field communication (NFC), that is being used by Apple Pay, is not the only game in town. Look for beacons to fly under the radar and provide some new ways to pay.

The major shift will happen this summer for business to accept mobile payments but don’t expect it to take off yet.



Forrester estimates that 7% of US online adults (15+ million) are ready to buy an Apple Watch. According to a survey by UBS of 4,000 people, 10% of consumers said they were likely to by a smartwatch next year. The survey led them to estimate Apple would sell about 24 million Apple Watches starting at $349. Samsung has released six smartwatch models and none have been big sellers starting around $199.

wearableWe will start to see high fashion getting into the wearable/mobile accessory market to make them more aesthetically pleasing, a necessity if they ever want to go mainstream. The fact is that when it comes to watches, we’ve put them aside. Even when we wear a watch, we still pull our phones out of our pockets to check the time. This is the new habit that smartwatches still have to surpass. The luxury still has no unique purpose to drive purchase short of Apple Pay and that’s not incentive enough.

apple_watch_editionBy the end of the year, a large number of wearables under $50 (check out theDitto) leaving only room for a few high-end wearables like the Apple Watch. Apple’s smartwatch will survive. Why? Because Apple has loyal fan boys and girls that will buy anything Apple produces.

Google Glass launched its developer version in 2012. The product is practically dead now. The buzz is gone. Very few competitors are trying to make a similar product. It’s still in Beta and doesn’t have support from the developer community. Twitter stopped making its app for Google Glass in October and its creator left Google to work at Amazon. Go ahead and write it off for 2015.


Apple Watch does not take over the world. Google Glass R.I.P.


Bundling – The Next Frontier

This year will mark the dramatic rise of the bundled app. Think of Furby. Kids can use the mobile device to interact with the toy, feed it, love it, play with it, etc. Wearables and home automation like Nest will continue to go beyond the stand-alone app.  Look for home kits and health kits that are tied to mobile apps to be readily available to Home Depot and Walgreens.

  • 65% of consumer transactions with healthcare organizations will be mobile by 2018, thus requiring healthcare organizations to develop omni-channel strategies to provide a consistent experience across the Web, mobile, and telephonic channels. (IDC)
  • To control spiraling healthcare costs related to managing patients with chronic conditions, 70% of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care by 2018, which will create more demand for big data and analytics capability to support population health management initiatives. (IDC)

Insurance providers will struggle to figure out how these change their industry. Will we see mHealth apps and wearables that are reimbursed by insurance companies? Will Start Farm and Allstate give reduced rates to connected security systems, door locks, ovens that message us if they’re still on when we leave the house and give us the ability to turn them off? Will health insurance companies view certain wearables as data receptors that can prevent disease and reduce doctor visits thus lowering rates and their payout?

Stand-alone apps, stand alone. Bundling is the new kid in town.


Privacy and Big Data

privacyPrivacy is dead. Everyone complains about their loss of privacy, Facebook and Google’s intrusion into their life, but if the offer has enough value, people gladly sign their private details of their life away. With mobile, social and wearables becoming ubiquitous, the streams of data about every person becomes accessible to many brands and organizations. Data scientists have the difficult job of taking the impossible, immeasurable about of data and make sense of it. It is becoming too much to do manually and algorithms are going to be the key to unlock the huge opportunity to create success stories in 2015.


With the amount of hacks we’ve seen in the customer credit card side of things in the last two years, expect to see one or two major hacks into mobile phone data acquired by a major brand. Gartner’s researchers discovered that over75% of mobile apps will be unable to pass basic security test through 2015. This will prompt the industry to rethink their security infrastructure and a minor uprising among the general public. This minor uprising will not equate to new legislation in 2015 but will put new bills on the table for discussion.

In the wake of hacking scandals and newsworthy security breaches, the discussion of data collection from fitness and health wearables has been limited. Apple strengthened the privacy policy of its HealthKit so third-parties cannot sell health data but how long will this last? How long before FitBit and other companies change their policies like Facebook continually changes theirs?

Demographics are dead. Long Live Personalization

With the massive amount of data on each person, we will continue to see the demise of demographics. Age, race, sex, income will become a footnote rather than a group consumers are put into. We will see specific personal offers through mobile rather than group messaging and communication of offers.

Targeted ads are considered to be twice as effective as non-targeted ads. One study demonstrated that retargeted display ads will inspire 1000% more people to search for the product.  Expect micro targeted personalized ad strategies to dramatically increase this year.

Privacy? Who needs it. Show me the money!



Mobile video increases. Everyone else has covered the increase in mobile video usage, so I’m not going to restate the obvious.


App downloads will surpass brand Facebook and Twitter followers for most brands


Automated mobile marketing platforms