2008 was a huge year for mobile in general, and for the location-enriched variety to boot. Highlights I'll recall years from now and will document in a historical record to look back upon include the open movement for device and network resource accessible APIs for developers, the opensource movement for mobile OSs led by Google and subsequently followed by competitors, the open movement for wireless broadband freedom marked by the 700 Mhz auction and TV whitespace decision, the iPhone and the mobile industries first applications long tail market via the iTunes App Store distribution system, Nokia's push to reinvent itself yet again - this time by entering the Web apps space, all the GPS chipset-content-and LBS app consolidation, Connectivity & Location divergence into new portable platforms like netbooks and other devices beyond the phone, and the future promise of 4G. So after all this astonishing, rapid progress, what could possibly emerge next year? I'll run a fools errand like others and throw out these uh, wild predictions for 2009...
- More consolidation. The LBS value chain is still broken despite 2008 progress. Expect to see more M&A activity particularly due to the global economic crisis with smaller companies looking for exits as the situation grows worse.
- Carrier, network-based Location for Web, WAP, MMS, and SMS will become irrelevant and go away as GPS chipsets and other local client software Location options become even more pervasive beyond the estimated 650 million GPS-enabled mobile devices to-date. Along with this, I also expect to see the rise of the first mobile Browsers to support Location access via an API reducing dedicated-download value, plus a growing irrelevance of the Service Delivery Platform for Telecom Web services in Web 2.0 mashup contexts.
- App Store, off-deck mobile consumable distribution trends will continue, further disintermediating carriers from direct billing relationships for apps, while consequently introducing vicious competition among developers serving the D2C niches.
- Smartphones will receive first-class citizen subsidy care and marketing, while feature phones receive devalued second-class status. Pause about the implications of this and think how it impacts addressable markets/industries who benefit from Location smarts, while weighing it against growing consumer interest & awareness in place-based contexts
- A resurgence in mobile enterprise applications coverage - I say 'coverage' because while demand has remained steady through 2008 and many years leading up to it, press interest has honed elsewhere on other hot mobile social networking, local search, and mobile advertising opportunities
I might offer more beyond this short list, but lets see how I do with this initial five first. I'll track these predictions and If I score 60% or more, maybe next year I'll wander further out on the trending tightrope and post ten. Happy new year, and best of luck to all in 2009!