mobile tech“We’re living in science fiction, but we don’t realize it.”                                                                      Terry Pratchett

A simple device that changed our entire lives from the very core and permeated every possible facet and ramification. An old idea dating back to the 1960s when IBM (and many others) started to experiment and build it. Something that catalyzed industry and market growth in nearly every sector. What was it?

At the turn of the century, if someone had told you that in a few years you’d be able to order a pizza, schedule your day, find the fastest route to work, buy a birthday present, subscribe to a magazine, check up on your friends and more, all of these things with just a few taps on a small display screen in a few minutes, you’d have told that person that he reads too many Isaac Asimov novels. And yet here we are : 2013, the year of innovation, opportunities and adventure.

Let’s recap a few of the major changes in 2012 and see what 2013 promises.

The mobile and mobile application market reached unprecedented heights by the end of 2012. Sporting 1bn plus smartphones, or in other words, 1 in 7 people own a smartphone right now. If this is not impressive enough, the total revenue from mobile apps was $8,5bn in 2011 and in 2012 surpassed the $30bn milestone, a sum that’s projected to reach $46bn by 2016 according to ABI Research. Just a couple more. Bloomberg Industries estimates the smartphone market was worth $219 billion last year. The total number of mobile apps downloaded worldwide was roughly over 45,6bn, and according to Gartner, will reach 309bn downloads in 2016.

We might be a little coy and proffer the observation that we see the word ,,billion” quite often here. Why? What accounts for these high predictions? Why has the mobile app industry and its respective ecosystems reached this peak? Most agree on a basic statement. Unlike many areas in life, the mobile application industry catalyzes itself through its own progress and competition. One main reason is that it’s a self improving and self revolutionizing organism. That, coupled with the fact that the mobile application industry numbers its age in dog years, leads to a simple conclusion : Road Runner velocity.

Change happens at a ridiculously fast pace today, from body armor for women, wingsuit racing and more, thus let’s take a peek at what new techs aspire to shake up the montagne russe of the mobile landscape in 2013 and what they promise.

 

1. Augmented reality to shape the future of mobile commerce

mobile techAlthough still in its ,,soon to be mass adopted” phase, augmented reality apps promise to bring the retail experience to a new stage of shopping. Smart devices and social media have impacted online shopping to such a degree that 40% of people search for products using Twitter and Nielsen reported that 50% of US smartphone owners use shopping apps monthly, frequenting eBayAmazonGroupon and LivingSocial’s mobile stores. About 45 million smartphone owners access shopping-and-commerce apps each month. One last tidbit is, according to mashable.com, 45% of shoppers buy online products they wouldn’t buy in person.

Augmented reality apps promise to deliver the experience to a higher level of customer engagement and immersiveness. Shopping online, besides being quick, easy and personal, stands to be improved through features such as digitally walking into a store, trying out clothes, products, find info, offers, interactive games and competitions for products and so on. Even so, there are many complications in developing AR mobile apps. A rigorous developing process, difficulties in integrating with smartphone capabilities such as camera and compass, light conditions, accuracy functionality and other problems will lead to limited enterprise adoption in the medium term.

Although only few AR apps exist at the moment, despite complications and long term development processes, Juniper Report find that AR mobile applications will generate in 2013 $300mn in revenues and hope to put AR into the customer crosshairs.

 

2. Project Glass 

mobile techFirst unveiled by Google in May 2012, the wearable smartphone seeks to offer a new avenue of interaction and AR. Still in the early stages of development, Google Glasses aim to provide a sleek design and catchy experience to the user. Essentially, Google Glasses are a headset above your right eye featuring camera, display, processor, memory, microphone, speaker, gyroscope, compass, accelerometer and multiple radios, wi-fi and many other specs soon to be revealed. The operating system will be Android.

The futuristic glasses have received mixed critical reception, from Time accolading it as one of the  ,,Best Inventions of the Year 2012″, to “In one simple fake video … Google has created a level of over-hype and over-expectation that their hardware cannot possibly live up to,” Blair MacIntyre, of Georgia Tech’s Augmented Environments Lab told Wired in 2012.

News and rumours vary according to release date for developers or consumers, but the approximate customer/dev beta test release will be somewhere at the end of the year. Whether the high-tech eyewear stands to write a check its hardware can’t cash or it will revolutionize the mobile landscape, it remains to be seen.

 

3. Snapdragon 800 and 600 mobile processors set to take the stage in 2013

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Qualcomm announces next generation mobile processors that are ready to take mobile performance to a new level of speed, reliability and power. The quad-core Snapdragon 800 is the flagship chip for flagship smartphones and tablets, geared up to deliver speeds up to 2.3GHz. With high-end devices in mind, Qualcomm states that the Snapdragon 800 will provide up to 75% better performance than previous chips. Products are expected to start shipping in the Q2 of 2013. For a complete list of specifications , click here.

 

4. 5th generation wi-fi  802.11ac couples the freedom of wireless with the capabilities of Gigabit Ethernet

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The pledge that the 802.11ac makes is simple : Faster speeds, longer reach, same price. 

802.11ac boosts Wi-Fi performance to 1 Gbps levels. This and other new Wi-Fi standards, such as 802.11ad (60 GHz, multi-Gbps in-room Wi-Fi) and 802.11ah (low-frequency Wi-Fi), will continue to expand the capabilities of the Wi-Fi family of technologies. The strong Wi-Fi road map will enable it to address new application areas such as high-definition video streaming telemetry, games, media, social networks and shouldering traffic from cellular networks. It is estimated that it will be launched in the first half of 2013.

For a specifications and development history, check out this whitepaper.

 

5. Flexible smartphones around the bend

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A lot of people talk about design flexibility. Samsung seems to take the notion literally. Though still a work in progress, Samsung states “foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology.”

This feat is possible by making the display out of an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and shielding it in plastic rather than glass.

Samsung will most likely be the first company to launch such a device in 2013, although Samsung has yet to officially confirm if the new technology would be on the next Galaxy S or Galaxy Note smartphone or if it will roll out a new line of Galaxy Flexible smartphones.

From new levels of speed and durability, glasses that can revolutionize mobile apparel, processors that stand to rival laptops and desktops and phones that can be thrown in a fit of fury and still be functional, 2013 promises to be a year of explorers and innovation in the mobile adventure. The future is happening now and dramatic tension builds with each new update from developers and companies that stand to revitalize branding opportunities, customer targeting and catalyzing intrepid monetization ideas to revenues and reputation.

These are just a small fraction of the main contenders for the ,,mobile innovation of the year” prestigious claim but the year is young and it promises new plot twists and turns before the play is over.

What’s your take on these new techs ready to spring up in 2013? Will they create more chaos or consolidation in the mobile landscape? Leave a comment below. 

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