Killers apps will, like most tech innovation today, come from the edge, not the mobile carriers, said Gartner. Its list of applications is arraigned by impact on consumers and industry players and takes into consideration revenue, loyalty, business model, consumer value and estimated market penetration.
“Consumer mobile applications and services are no longer the prerogative of mobile carriers,” said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, in a statement. “The increasing consumer interest in smart phones, the participation of Internet players in the mobile space, and the emergence of application stores and cross-industry services are reducing the dominance of mobile carriers … We predict that most users will use no more than five mobile applications at a time and most future opportunities will come from niche market ‘killer applications’.”
The top 10 consumer mobile applications in 2012 are:
1) Money Transfer – This service allows people to send money to others using short message service (SMS). Its lower costs, faster speed and convenience compared with traditional transfer services have strong appeal to users in developing markets, and most services signed up several million users within their first year. However, challenges do exist in both regulatory and operational risks. Because of the fast growth of mobile money transfer, regulators in many markets are piling on to investigate the impact on consumer costs, security, fraud and money laundering. On the operational side, market conditions vary, as do the local resources of service providers, so providers need different market strategies when entering a new territory.
2) Location-Based Services – Location-based services (LBS) form part of context-aware services, a service that Gartner expects will be one of the most disruptive in the next few years. Gartner predicts that the LBS user base will grow globally from 96 million in 2009 to more than 526 million in 2012. LBS is ranked No. 2 in Gartner’s top 10 because of its perceived high user value and its influence on user loyalty. Its high user value is the result of its ability to meet a range of needs―from productivity and goal fulfillment to social networking and entertainment.
3) Mobile Search – The ultimate purpose of mobile search is to drive sales and marketing opportunities on the mobile phone. To achieve this, the industry first needs to improve the user experience of mobile search so that people will come back again. Mobile search is ranked No. 3 because of its high impact on technology innovation and industry revenue. Consumers will stay loyal to some search services, but instead of sticking to one or two search providers on the Internet, Gartner expects loyalty on the mobile phone to be shared between a few search providers that have unique technologies for mobile search.
4) Mobile Browsing – Mobile browsing is a widely available technology present on more than 60% of handsets shipped in 2009. Gartner expects this percentage to rise to approximately 80% in 2013. Gartner ranked mobile browsing No. 4 because of its broad appeal to all businesses. Mobile Web systems have the potential to offer a good return on investment. They involve much lower development costs than native code, reuse many existing skills and tools, and can be agile—both delivered and updated quickly. Therefore, the mobile Web will be a key part of most corporate business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile strategies.
5) Mobile Health Monitoring – Mobile health monitoring is the use of IT and mobile telecommunications to monitor patients remotely. It could help governments, care delivery organizations (CDOs), and healthcare payers reduce costs related to chronic diseases while improving the quality of life of their patients. In developing markets, the mobility aspect is key as mobile network coverage is superior to fixed network in the majority of developing countries. Currently, mobile health monitoring is at an early stage of market maturity and implementation, and project rollouts have so far been limited to pilot projects. In the future, the industry will be able to monetize the service by offering mobile healthcare monitoring products, services and solutions to CDOs.
6) Mobile Payment – Mobile payment usually serves three purposes: First, it is a way of making payment when few alternatives are available. Second, it is an extension of online payment for easy access and convenience. Third, it is an additional factor of authentication for enhanced security. Mobile payment made Gartner’s Top 10 list because of the number of parties it affects including mobile carriers, banks, merchants, device vendors, regulators and consumers and the rising interest from both developing and developed markets. Because of the many choices of technologies and business models, as well as regulatory requirements and local conditions, mobile payment will be a highly fragmented market. There will not be standard practices of deployment, so parties will need to find a working solution on a case-by-case basis.