Most everyone these days has a portable device--whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet. What changes will happen in mobile in 2014?
To answer that, I interviewed Bill Seibel, an unstoppable entrepreneur, whose latest venture, Waltham, Mass.-based Mobiquity, helps companies profit from mobile. Based on his work with companies trying to stay ahead of the mobile game, he has identified five trends that will matter most.
Seibel is not easily deterred from startups. After helping build up systems consultant Cambridge Technology Partners; founding and bringing Internet consulting firm Zefer to the brink of an IPO; starting and selling software maker Demantra to Oracle for $41 million, Mr. Seibel founded Mobiqity which has been growing fast.
As he told me in July, “We have 150 clients and have boosted revenues. In 2011 revenues were $5 million, in 2012 they rose to $18 million and so far in 2013 we are up to $24 million with a $40 million backlog and nine offices. We have 200 people, expect to end the quarter with 350 and the year with 400.”
Seibel described five trends that he thinks will predominate in the mobile space next year. These trends look good for Apple, Google, AT&T, and Tesla and not as good for BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ford, and GM.
1. FAA allows personal calls on flights, but most airlines continue to ban calls.
Seibel does not think that we will suffer from listening to Aunt Millie whine about her bunions during the flight.
“While the FAA [will] allow use of personal mobile devices to make calls in-flight as no real safety hazard has been realized through years of testing, most airlines [will] ban the use of electronic devices below 10,000 feet and [prohibit] calls in-flight. This is due to consumer demand, as few flyers want to sit next to a person speaking loudly on a smartphone,” predicts Seibel.
2. Cars get connected.
Seibel expects cars to get connected in 2014. This will help people to unlock cars, start up their engines, and monitor them remotely.
As Seibel says, “I have seen [these capabilities] introduced for Audi (in car WiFi and Google maps integration) and Tesla’s partnership with AT&T. But 2014 should be the year where mainstream car manufacturers introduce smart connected cars and apps that handle a range of functions from remote unlocking & starting, to maintenance monitoring to WiFi connection and integration of web services.”
Seibel expects more to come, “We will see a lot of innovation in this area as far more features continue to appear and evolve. And I think Wired is right when it notes that people would rather buy a self-driving car from Google than Ford or GM,” says Mr. Seibel.
3. Apple will fill the enterprise void created by the impending demise of BlackBerry.
Seibel sees six reasons why Apple will take over from BlackBerry:
· BlackBerry is failing - it lost $965 million in the most recent quarter and is planning to eliminate 40 percent of its work force by the end of 2013;
· Microsoft lacks the acceptance and market traction needed to fill the gap that BlackBerry’s demise is creating;
· Android is “gaining penetration into the consumer marketplace;”
· Enterprises will invest more in “B2E [Business to Employee] in 2014 and beyond;”
· Apple -- with its ”reputation for quick reaction to malware, better device management, and BYOD [Bring Your Own Device -- meaning employees can use their personal devices for work instead of getting IT-approved models] -- is continuing to make inroads into the enterprise;”
· Apple is enhancing its enterprise-friendly “capabilities that appeal to the Enterprise (such as security, more control over apps, single sign on, lower cost: iWork bundled for free that will help Apple to target and win the enterprise.”
4. Wearables will not catch on until well after 2014.
Seibel believes that wearable computing will only gain market acceptance if it satisfies three tests: function, fit, and fashion. Very few wearables now pass these three tests in his view. He thinks that Google Glass wearers, for example, have earned their “Glassholes” moniker.
As eibel said, “Even though the form is there today--watches, glasses, rings, wigs, bras; the function isn’t quite there yet. Except for some of the healthcare and fitness wearables. And for wearables, there’s a third F that’s important - and that’s fashion And for most of the wearables, the fashion is definitely not there yet.”
The iPad was fashionable in his view, but not Glass. Explained Seibel, ”When my first iPad arrived, I remember showing it off. People would come up to me to see it. I have Google Glass, but I’m a bit embarrassed to wear that outside of the privacy of my home. Perception that they create isn’t ‘cool’, it’s geeky and socially awkward. Glassholes. The function and fashion will get there - but wearables will not take off until they both do.”
5. Analytics will help companies change consumer behavior.
Seibel sees that a combination of easy collection of data about consumer behavior coupled with the ability to analyze all that data will nudge individuals into changing their behavior for the better. However, that ability to collect and analyze personal data will make privacy a continued concern.
As he says, “The purveyors of mobile solutions will know more about us than we know about ourselves. But the corollary is that privacy will emerge as a real issue in 2014. For example, healthcare providers want consumer to take their medications and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Mobile has architecture to support it-- but analytics is the fuel.”
“For example, Fitbit has data on a billion footsteps and a million hours of sleep. It’s not just more data -; there will be seven exabytes of data in 2015 -- but the sensors will always be on and companies will be able to target advertisements and incentives to change behavior to each individual with a unique message for each individual,” explains Seibel.