2014 will be an interesting time for the smartphone industry and at a broad level, we will begin to look at the segment in two key ways. The first is what it facilitates in isolation as a personal device and the second is what it facilitates within a broader ecosystem of the digital lifestyle.
As larger form factors became popular in 2013, 2014 will see these devices being used for more than just email, IM and social media. Entertainment on the go will be the way of the future where videos, HD movie viewing, gaming etc. will drive usage. This naturally points to a move in the direction of a services oriented play where apps become the centre of the mobility ecosystem. Most users are now basing the purchase of their smartphones on the range of services and apps that meet their unique requirements.
This in turn points to second focus area for the smartphone industry in 2014 i.e. what it facilitates from a digital lifestyle perspective.
Imagine being able to regulate the temperature on your air conditioner or set your television channel preference through an app on your phone. Machine to machine communications will start to see the light of day in 2014 as white goods manufacturers will sit up and take notice of the trend and work towards offering a digital lifestyle solution instead of durables in isolation.
The other interesting communications protocol to make waves in 2014 will be Near Field Communications (NFC) which is fast becoming mainstream as today’s Bluetooth becomes yesterday’s infrared. Sure, we may not see a wild proliferation of NFC, but 2014 will be the year when brands will increasingly start offering a flavour of NFC as mobile devices begin to adopt the technology. Sharing information and multimedia or even making payments at stores through a tap of devices is a new kind of liberation that the smartphone ecosystem will provide. Additionally it is a technology that will begin to reshape the world and create new business partnerships to deliver services that were previously unthinkable.
Augmented reality is another trend that is expected to add a new dimension to the mobile experience in 2014. It is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. The potential application of something like this on the areas of weather, navigation and real-time alerts on your