In a crowded city center, take a look around. How many people do you see who aren’t on a cellphone? If you’re in the US, the answer is “not many.” A full 95% of Americans now own cellphones. In this way, it may seem like the mobile industry is already saturated, but that is far from the truth.
For example, the app industry alone is set to grow to $189 billion by 2020, which is a 270% increase from the $70 billion industry size in 2016, according to App Annie.
By 2020, over 16 billion mobile devices will be in use, up from 11 billion in 2016 according to Radicati.
Combinations of other disruptive technologies such as virtual reality and many new fintech apps contribute to the pervasiveness of mobile technology which in and of itself disrupted the telecommunications industry. Mobile technology has come a long way from basic socialization, and cell phones house many of the apps that run our daily lives from fitness trackers to budgeting and bank software to our to-do lists.
Of course, the socialization aspect of mobile tech is still roaringly high. Applications like Facebook, Snapchat, and Whatsapp can be found on huge numbers of mobile apps around the world.
Coming years will bring changes to the mobile industry that bring opportunity for entry to entrepreneurs.
For example, design trends within applications are taking a somewhat shocking turn–the loss of the “hamburger menu.” The hamburger menu is the set of three little lines in the corner of most apps that allows users to access the navigation menu. This standardized menu is being phased out in trade for more integrated menus to increase user engagement such as was the case with Spotify.
Mobile applications are also seeing an upswing in the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially through the use of chatbots.
Beyond applications, we are also seeing changes in the functionality of mobile.
5G wireless begins early-release in US cities this year, 2017, starting with Austin and Indianapolis.
In comparison to 4G wireless, 5G is supposed to be approximately three times faster, taking mobile data into the Gigabits-per-second realm.
These new, speedy networks open a lot of opportunities for new applications that can be data heavy and require reliable speed. Mobile phones are not the only devices to benefit from upcoming 5G networks, but Internet of Things (IoT) devices as well.
These new networks make feasible new IoT technology that would not be functional on slower networks which allows for a lot of innovation for future-thinking entrepreneurs.
Another new trend in mobile technology is the use of wearables that project mobile device screens directly onto the skin. For example:
Cicret has created a bracelet that includes a pico-projector to display users’ mobile device screens on their forearms. They have raised over half a million dollars for their project, 128.2% of their goal from nearly 11,000 donors. Thanks to this funding, a working prototype has been created and pre-orders are poised to begin this year.
eyeHand has also created a device to project data on the skin, but instead of the forearm, their wearable projects onto users’ hands. The device works as a touchscreen as well as a 3D mouse and controller. They also foresee uses of their technology to include biometric key and wallet functionality. On their website, they have open opportunities for investors, consumers, and partners.