Following yesterday’s utterly subjective list of over-hyped apps of 2014, today I’ll attempt to make predictions for mobile apps in 2015. These predictions are not based on a single iota of hard data, just an analysis based on the areas most talked about and the most imitated apps and business models. Do not, I repeat, do not, make any decisions based on these predictions.
The “sharing economy” apps. Already a huge category, called the “collaborative economy” by Jeremy Owyang and Uber for X by Product Hunt, these apps serve as a connector between suppliers of goods, services or even money and the users of these services. The bigger ventures include couch/room/house sharing service Airbnb, ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber, crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, delivery services like Postmates, and task-sourcing services like Odesk and TaskRabbit. But as this category grows, applications will become more targeted at specific audiences. For example, the moving app Bellhops is focused on connecting students and movers in their community, or the app One Degree that connects between non-profit organizations and the families who need them. Counter to this specialization trend, I think that less apps will “reinvent the wheel” and will build upon existing services to power theirs. For example, Postmates’ new API might prompt services to ask “what else can we deliver” as opposed to “how can we deliver?”
Mobile payments. Whether with an alternative to Bitcoin or just more efficient or secure (hopefully both) ways to use the payment methods we already have, mobile apps will be on more phones and used at more retail outlets and online. With the increased demand from Apple Pay users to use the app at more locations, retailers will gradually ramp up adoption by adding NFC terminals. This, in turn, might motivate the development of even more payment apps. 2014 was unprecedented in the number of serious data breaches in the US, including large chains such as Home Depot, Kmart, and Staples. Secure mobile payments could end up being beneficial for everyone.
The smart house. The “internet of things” might be just another buzzword (or words) but the smarter home is here. With everything from doorbells, front locks, fire alarms, light bulbs, security cameras, water gauges, thermostats, kitchen scales, coffeemakers and even a sous vide cooker having their own app, users will be able to control everything in their house while sitting on a beach drinking a fruity drink. We won’t have to wait too long to see this, CES will undoubtedly expose us to many new and innovative home devices, some just simple twists on every devices and some that will turn the entire industry on its head. Also, with a slew of new devices, a smarter multi-device dashboards such as Apple’s HomeKit will probably be forthcoming. After all, “turn everything off” should be a legitimate command.
Health and fitness trackers. Smart watches have taken off this final quarter of 2014 and more, including Apple’s Watch, are expected to launch in the first half of 2015 (see also: CES.) Add dedicated fitness bands such as Fitbit and Jawbone to the mix, and simple trackers like Misfit, and soon users will be overwhelmed by choice in this space. Meanwhile, Android phones have Google Fit, an app that can track walking, running and cycling activities on almost any phone (running Android ICS and above.) From the simple pedometers and GPS trackers of a few years ago, users now have trackers for many different activities (including sleep) using a variety of different sensors. But just like the smart house, the fit human will need a dashboard to coordinate the different devices and coordinate other health/fitness related apps such as calorie counters and period trackers. Apple claims to provide this with HealthKit and I’m sure Android alternatives will come along soon.
Those are the categories I’m watching. Of course, the social networking and messaging category will undoubtedly have new entrants as users strive towards better (safe, positive, private, cheap or whatever attribute is relevant for users at a certain moment or with certain contacts) applications in these areas. It will also be interesting to see what new advertising units and business models spring up to support these apps and how privacy will be either trampled on or will become a deciding factor in user’s app choices. 2015 promises to be a very interesting year.
What are you watching?
Disclosure: my husband works at Google on the Google Fit app.