2013: 5 Mobile Trends Worth Reading

If we step back in time, to see the tech trend headlines of January 2012, it might appear that the world hasn’t changed. The trends that grabbed headlines then – Near Field Communication, location-based services, augmented reality and m-commerce – are still the most talked about trends as we enter 2013. 

Still, a lot has changed. These technologies have now had 12 months to mature. Consumers are beginning to understand how they work, and what the benefits are. Expectations for them are also greater than ever before. 

While there will be many new technologies in 2013, I think the big winners will be those innovations that emerged in 2012, which have now had a year to develop.

Here are five trends to watch closely:

Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC is a classic example of how a technology on its own can fail to capitalise on an audience without mainstream uptake and education. Apple’s decision not to include NFC in the latest iPhone also had an impact on adoption. While it was a hot topic last year, penetration was small outside of the tech world. 

However, financial institutions and the travel sector are pushing the technology forward. Examples include the partnership of Samsung & Orange, the introduction of PayTag from Barclaycard, VISA payWave, and the launch of Visa's touch payments on London busses. All of these will drive further awareness and get consumers comfortable with the concept in 2013. 

NFC is also being used to connect a user’s "digital self" to the physical world. One of my favorite examples is EpicMix by Vail Resorts, which tracks the amount of vertical feet skied in a season and posts this along with photos automatically to your social networks. Burberry’s flagship store also did a great job of incorporating NFC. 

Overall, the low cost of the technology and growing adoption makes NFC a very affordable choice in marketing campaigns, with the key being that implementations must add value to the user.

Augmented Reality
Augmented reality showed its face during 2012, but its objective was often misunderstood and too often put in the same corner as QR codes. Thanks to constant marketing by tech start-ups, like Aurasma, Blippar and Shazam, augmented reality experiences are becoming part of our everyday lives. From magazines and giant billboards to utility apps, which aid workers in the field, our awareness is definitely increasing.

The big challenge facing marketers and ad agencies in 2013 is changing how we use Augmented Reality. Rather than providing us with gimmicky 3D renders of static images, Augmented Reality should be used in a way that engages consumers, directs them to value-added content & special offers, or provides an experience unique to its use case. Only then will they be persuaded to scan. 

Multiscreen Journeys
With the growing adoption of mobile and tablet computing, it’s increasingly important to ensure that branded experiences are truly multiscreen and deliver information regardless of whether you're using mobile, PC, tablet or television. 

I'm hoping many more brands in 2013 will allow users to start their journey on one screen and continue on others. Whether it comes to beginning a movie on the your commute and finishing it up at home, or researching and booking your next flight, I think we’ll see some great use cases this year.

Personalisation and Targeted Advertising
2013 will see personalisation increase across a range of experiences. Mobile search-engine results and ads based on your location will only increase. Other examples might include socially connected NFC handouts at events or Digital Out-of-Home advertising that recognises your gender and age.

This kind of personalisation could mean the beginning of completely different day-to-day experiences as we navigate both our digital and physical worlds.

The Connected Car
The connected car is such a hot topic for 2013 that it will have its very own track at Mobile World Congress. Using SDK Interfaces, manufacturers can effectively turn their car into an advanced smartphone accessory, directly linking your smartphone to your car. Automobile App developers can then provide navigation, entertainment, and utility applications that can be used while driving (or stop you from using your phone while driving!).  

One of the first such technologies is Microsoft SYNC which was introduced on the latest Ford's. 

2013 is going to be the year when some of these technologies finally become mainstream, and I look forward to sharing updates as this unfolds.

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