10 Cutting-edge Mobile Application Trends for 2012
Mobile applications will increasingly define the user experience on high-end devices.
In some ways, the rise of the mobile Internet has given the computing world a bit of a do-over. In the first go-round - the desktop PC world - Microsoft dominated the operating system. When things moved online, Microsoft initially was the browser king, though that dominance has faded.
Smartphones and tablets have rolled out differently. Most of the attention has focused on the "Wild West" (and east, north and south) of mobile OSes. Another world that is refreshingly competitive is that of the mobile browser.
This week, Net Applications released market share numbers for browsers used on phones and tablets (it groups laptops with desktops). CNET's Stephen Shankland has a good assessment of the numbers. Here is the key passage:
Apple's Safari, used on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches, is the dominant browser, rising from 44.3 percent of usage in October 2010 to 53.0 percent in August 2011. And although the overall ranking of the top five browsers hasn't changed in the last year, it appears likely Google's unbranded Android browser will take the No. 2 spot from Opera Mini in coming months.
The changes in market share are rather stark. For instance, in the year between October 2010 and last month, the Opera Mini dropped from 32.4 percent to 20.8 percent. The Android browser rose from 9.2 percent to 15.7 percent during the same period.
This is a great measure. What remains to be done is to separate tablets and smartphones. Mozilla, for instance, is working on a browser exclusively for tablets. Here is Larry Dignan's take at ZDNet, along with a link to Mozilla developer Ian Barlow's post at Mozilla.
It also is important to remember that, unlike the PC market, the pie is growing at a breakneck pace in both mobile realms. Shankland and Net Applications point out that the mobile category still only accounts for just over 6 percent of Internet browsing.
While that percentage will grow, it is worth pointing out that mobile browsing isn't the only way that mobile users interact with the Web. According to a story about a Nielsen study that was posted last month at Silicon Republic, it is not even the predominant way:
When consumers use their mobile phones to check the news, weather, email or their social networks, they often have a choice between the mobile web version or a specially-created mobile app. But which do they prefer? Mobile apps-at least in terms of time spent, the survey by Neilsen reveals.
That may be so, but the bottom line is that the rate of growth is so high among smartphones and tablets that browser use will accelerate to the point that it eventually will approach the size of the desktop/laptop segment. This is especially true if the era of the PC truly is ending.