We have seen a trend of emerging technologies quickly becoming a dominant part of the way we interact with the world around us. In late 2016/early 2017 mobile devices overtake desktop web browsing for the first time. (source) Today almost every company has a presence not just on mobile web, but in the app stores. The popularity of mobile applications however has a long history with Apple’s iOS celebrating its 10 year anniversary earlier this year.

Wearables / Smartwatches

Wearable band shipments grew 35% year on year to 20.5 million units in Q1 2018, driven by strong demand for health-centric devices. (source)

  • In terms of shipped units, smartwatches accounted for 43% in Q1 2018. Apple emerged as the top vendor, shipping 3.8 million Apple Watches (source)
  • Apple represents 59% of the total cellular-enabled smartwatch market. “While the Apple ecosystem has a strong LTE watch offering, the lack of a similar product in the Android ecosystem is glaring. If Google decides to pursue the opportunity with a rumored Pixel Watch, it would jump-start much needed competition in this space.” (source)
  • Apple sold eight million Apple Watches in the final quarter of 2017, the most since the product was introduced and the highest number of shipments in a single quarter for any wearable vendor. That figure is also more than the companies in the Swiss watch industry’s combined sales. (source)
  • At Apple’s shareholder meeting on Feb. 13, CEO Tim Cook said revenue from the wearables alone is approaching that of a Fortune 400 company. This means Apple’s wearables business is nearly the size of a company like Jetblue, with at least $6.7 billion in annual sales. (source)

Strategy Analytics published a research note (Aug 2017) claiming that cumulative Apple Watch sales now stand in the 30 million range since the device launched in April of 2015. (source)

The growth of smartwatches and other wearables is ultimately going to revolutionize the way users interact with their mobile devices and applications. The popularity of them providing snapshot information & alerts (text messages, calls, emails) is already a driving factor in adoption. New features being added to devices like the Apple Watch are allowing it to grow to a new level of engagement with LTE support, GymKit, Heart Rate Monitoring and Home Kit integrations.

Augmented Reality

The AR technology was touted in both Google & Apple annual keynote conferences. Both Android and iOS development kits are being released to expand access to the technology and allow developing a seamless experience.

  • Google’s ARCore: Includes Augmented Images to provide augmented reality hooks based on image data (think playing a movie trailer when pointing at the poster)
  • Apple’s ARKit 2: Enables Developers To Create the Most Innovative AR Apps for the World’s Largest AR Platform
  • Google I/O Keynote Demo’d AR turn-by-turn navigations powered by Google Maps Street View

Ultimately augmented reality has been on the verge of widespread adoption for years. Case studies such as Pokemon Go show that in certain industries & uses the popularity augmented reality can skyrocket adoption and sales.

  • Earned a total of $1.2 billion in revenues and 752 million downloads, according to Apptopia, an app intelligence startup based in Boston. (source)
  • Grand View Research estimates AR Market Worth $100.24 Billion By 2024 (source)

Widespread adoption in other industries will likely be driven by innovation in usage and value provided to customers.

  • A potential example is a new feature being rolled out by Capital One for its Auto Navigator app, which helps shoppers find cars and quickly secure financing. Instead of searching for financing information about a car manually, you can just hold your iPhone up to see make and model details right above the vehicle, as well as what your monthly payment would be. (source)

Virtual Assistants

Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, and countless 3rd party vendors are all competing for success in the virtual assistant space. This is a constant talking point in both major keynotes from Apples WWDC & Google I/O.

Apple acquired Workflow (a task automation app) in early 2017 and is now rolling out Siri Shortcuts with its iOS 12 release

  • Allows API support to integrate common to integrate 3rd party apps into shortcut flows
  • Think quickly paying bills or sending money amongst friends funded by your Arvest app with Siri integrated commands.
Physical Devices (Amazon Echo & Google Home)

CIRP analysis indicates that within the US installed base of devices, Amazon Echo has 69%, or 31 million units, while Google Home has 31%, or 14 million units. The installed base grew by 18 million units in the quarter ending December 31, 2017. (source)

Around 60% of Amazon Echo and Google Home users also have connected at least one other accessory, such as thermostats, security systems, appliances, and lighting. (source)

Growth of these physical devices will continue to drive adoption of their underlying “smart” assistants and the benefit those services can buy as other smart devices are added to the ecosystem (thermostats, security systems, lights, appliances, speakers etc).

Summary

Therefore when looking into the next big trends in mobile it is logical to assume it will come from areas being supported by the largest companies in the space. With both hardware and software companies heavily backing wearables, augmented reality and virtual assistants it is clear these technologies are on a similar path of growth. The customer market has already proven the successes possible in these spaces through wide adoption and profits. Additionally these technologies have passed their tipping point as the early majority has already bought in based on the rates of adoption and sales seen previously. As we saw with mobile browsing overtaking desktop browsing, so too are we seeing landmark swings like a smartwatch company surpassing Swiss watch manufacturers. This means that the newest trends in mobile will likely be in innovative usage of these new mobile technologies.

Personally it seems these technologies are all related around closing the gap between the user and the content. No longer is it required to deliberately and intentionally launch a medium, such as a website or app, to interact with a companies’ content. The providers are now being integrated directly into the devices and operating systems to provide a seamless experience. Wearables allowing technology to be an accessory with access to information at a glance. Augmented reality bringing corporations’ digital content into the real world. Virtual assistants becoming a source of suggestions and recommendations for places or services with natural language conversation that can provide a much more trustworthy and personal experience. The business impact of these technologies therefore is allowing a corporation to become more integrated and relevant to a customer than ever before.


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