8 major trends to watch in the mobile space for 2011

No realm is experiencing quite as explosive a growth spurt as mobile – and its trajectory for the next several years remains steeply ascending toward the sky. Indeed, the mobile space is reshaping the modern world, redefining how users consume content, interact with each other and with devices, and creating a truly plugged-in, always-on digital world. It’s absolutely important, then, to track trends and analyze forecasts – for there is much to be gained and much to be lost in a market this fast-paced and competitive. 

1. Tablets will become ubiquitous.

Even with just the iPad on the market, the concept of the tablet as a must-have device has become wildly popular. And now there’s the Samsung Galaxy tablet, the Dell Streak, with several more coming to the market over the next several months – from BlackBerry’s enterprise-savvy Playbook to ones crafted by LG, HTC, Acer, Motorola, Cisco, and more.

It’s predicted that with the iPad leading the pack with 10 millon unit sales in 2011, tablets as a commodity will sell well over 50 million units next year alone. Ubiquity isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.”

2. Android fragmentation will become chaotic.

Google has issued a whopping seven releases of the Android OS – from 1.1 to 2.2 – in under two years. That’s far too frequent. Especially for an OS that spans several OEMs, including Motorola, Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony Ericsson – which all customize their Android operating systems for differentation. Older versions are glitchy, but with constant updates and constant tinkering across myriad hardware platforms, things will get ugly.

3. Mobile strategies will extend far beyond Apple devices.

Today, having an app for the iPhone or iPad is sufficient. Tomorrow, this will not be true. Any sucessful mobile strategy must be executed through more channels, including BlackBery, Android, Windows, Symbian, Bada, etc. There is expected to be one billion smartphones by 2013 and four billion app downloads in 2010 – a number that will skyrocket to 21 billion by 2013. The iPhone and iPad will remain popular, but businesses must diverisfy and expand their mobile presence, and quickly.

4. Increased mobile analytics.

Right now, there aren’t many stats available other than the number of downloads of an app. But this says nothing. What matters is how users are interacting with the app once its downloaded. In 2011, increased analytical capabilities will make more statistics available, turning mobile apps from a one-stat pony into a fleet of scrutinized metrics. Crafting truly effective mobile apps will become a science.

5. Mobile security will matter.

As it stands currently, there isn’t a lot of emphasis placed on security when it comes to mobile devices, and especially mobile apps. As this field expands rapidly, security will become a large concern for end users. If left unchecked by distributors and developers, the threat of public outrcry becomes very real – and an epic disaster that destroys a lazy company inevitable. Security must become a priority as millions of smartphone users trustingly download billions of apps from dozens of major distrubtion channels.

6. Mobile-exclsuive businesses will succeed.

One would be hard-pressed to achieve any real level of success through an exclusively mobile brand. But times will change soon. In 2011, an exclusively mobile brand will have the tools and the audience to become a sustainable sucess. Companies will create separate subsidairies dedicated to the mobile space because a small internal team will no longer be enough to tackle this growing  component of future business models.

7. Social and mobile will fuse.

The way that users interact on their smart mobile device is different than with devices of the past, research proves. And today’s rapidly growing social space has also changed the way users commuicate and navigate the digital realm. Successfully combining these two world-changing revolutions will be a hot topic for businesses; who can create the ultimate mobile/social experience? They will be very successful indeed.

8. Paid content will fail.

Users don’t want to pay for much anymore. Paid content is apt to fail in 2011, as users demand free access. Generating revenues, as well as profits, will be a major concern for businesses. Working with users to create a mobile presence that is free but also generates revenue will be an increasing focus for companies next year, as those who attempt to charge premiums for apps or other products or services will be shut down in this highly competitve market.