2011 Second-Half Mobile Predictions - Including iPhone on Four Carriers

Neither rumors nor tea leaves will guide us to what’s coming in mobile in the second half of the year so, as I have in the past, I’ll take a run at what could make the most impact in a six-month period.

Despite the advancements by Google via its Android efforts, no device comes close to the iPhone in terms of fascination and speculation. We’re either on the verge of a complete product makeover or will soon see relatively minor modifications in the iPhone 5. This swings back and forth via hourly reports.

Just as intriguing is whether Sprint and T-Mobile will be selling iPhones by year’s end. While rumors about distribution have run wild for the last four years, the highly reliable Boy Genius Report says a four-carrier choice for iPhone holiday shopping is likely. http://www.bgr.com/2011/07/12/iphone-5-to-land-on-sprint-and-t-mobile-analyst-says/

Of course, that scenario has many marketing implications. If it happens, get ready to revisit history by hearing from your CEO that “we need an iPhone app”. This time, with the reach and expected share, he or she would be right.

Other things I anticipate:

The convergence of mobile and social will be even more pronounced. Twitter and Facebook members are twice as active on mobile as they are online – and that’s before Facebook’s “app for every phone” introduction that brings the social network to more than 2,500 feature phones at a low cost accepted by global carriers.

At retail, look for even more mobile subscribers chronicling their “Moments of Trust” by posting comments, photos and even videos to social networks. Mobile devices have become megaphones for a large portion of users with more than 40 percent telling those in their social networks about negative or positive experiences with brands, according to research I commissioned in the spring and unveiled at Jeff Pulver’s 140 Characters Conference in New York /jeffhasen/video-of-my-140-characters-conference-talk-on

Groupon will prove to be more valuable to mobile users than PC members, providing the mobile customer ops in for Groupon Now offers.  What might stop someone from opting in? A reluctance to give Groupon access to location information as well as buying habits. As for me, Groupon online has proven to be largely a bother with such irrelevant offers as eyelash enhancement and flying trapeze lessons. I’ll take relevant offers on mobile.

Expect outrage over bills that charge for data overages. We’ve heard this one before – text messaging became mainstream once consumers were offered unlimited plans that prevented shocking bills. With the carriers doing away with all you can eat data, we’re back to surprise time in our bills.

The hype around the mobile wallet will intensify (is that possible?). Everyone is chasing the opportunity but I’ll bet you the dollar in my wallet that consumers won’t be leaving their wallets at home when they hit the malls in November and December.

With smartphone adoption making a steady march toward 50 percent share, expect more to make the claim that apps are on the way out because so many more subscribers will be able to access the mobile web. My view is we’re years away from deciding the apps vs. web question.

(article first appeared on imediaconnection.com http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2011/07/18/second-half-mobile-predictions-including-the-implications-of-the-iphone-available-through-four-carriers/)