We’re used to mobile app markets just as they are. They’re sprawling collections of games and tools, and they’re continually updated such that we can always enjoy something new if we choose to. Despite the ever-evolving nature of these app markets though, we don’t usually think of them as being subject to bigger changes. We expect new apps, expanded categories, and updates — but in the next few years, we might see some slightly more disruptive changes.
These are just some to be on the lookout for.
More Partnership & Collaboration
App stores have already moved well away from being exclusive environments. As often as not, games or apps that come out for Android or iOS first eventually make it to the other; apps from the likes of Google and Microsoft can be downloaded on Apple devices, and so on. Moving forward though, we might see even more partnership and collaboration between tech rivals when it comes to mobile app support. Apple, in fact, has been explicit about its intent to move in this direction. In our post ‘Apple Wants to Give Rivals More Room on iPhone’ we pointed out that the company may even allow for alternative browsers and mail services to be set as standards. This would be a subtle change, but it would basically allow users to use the apps they choose to customise services (such that, for example, opening a link would automatically bring up a browser of choice).
Apps For Wearables
We’ve been hearing for a few years now about the coming smart glasses trend, with some takes on the idea of framing it as the next big evolution in personal tech. CNBC notes, for instance, that there is a “race to replace our iPhones” with these glasses — the thinking being that people will soon be wearing glasses that function almost like small computers on our faces. Whether or not you subscribe to that idea though, some form of more advanced wearable technology is coming. And with new glasses and goggles will come entire suites of new apps to provide services for them.
More Investing Apps
If you’re familiar at all with investing apps, it’s likely through one of two things: cryptocurrency or low-fee stock trading. A variety of crypto exchanges and new-age stock market apps have emerged to give people convenient ways of trading on mobile devices. But we’re starting to see this idea expand into other markets in a way that suggests the future of investment may be on mobile. Some more conventional stock trading platforms have introduced apps. There are apps for trading gold and other commodities. And FXCM’s MetaTrader 4 shows that there are mobile tools for forex trading that also include markets for commodities, CFD trading, and cryptocurrency — all within the same platform. With stocks, forex, cryptos, and commodities all now tradable via the app, this could be described as an evolution that’s already happened. But it could be that mobile investing apps become so prevalent in the years ahead that we start to think of trading primarily as a mobile activity.
M-commerce, for those who don’t know the term, is basically e-commerce specifically on mobile devices. In other words, it’s used to refer exclusively to online purchase that is made via mobile. And per Retail Dive, we can expect m-commerce to comprise nearly 50% of all online retail sales by some point this year. A lot of this is happening through existing apps; retail stores, dedicated shopping apps, and even social networking apps can all contribute to m-commerce. As these types of sales continue their takeover of digital retail though, we should expect to see an even greater emphasis on shopping opportunities in our mobile devices. This might mean new apps, new features in existing apps, or even new purchasing option notifications and alerts — but it will likely be noticeable.
New Social Networks
New social networks are always emerging, and they might ultimately continue to blend into what’s become a very busy app category. There is some chance, however, that we’ll see significant disruption in social networks in the coming years. Between the potential of new devices and technologies (we’ll certainly be seeing virtual reality social networks) and intensifying efforts to break up massive tech companies (including the likes of Facebook and Twitter), the social networking landscape may look quite different by 2025 than it looks right now. What this will mean in terms of apps is difficult to say, but we do expect some disruption.
These changes will be gradual, and some may be more noticeable than others. But all together, they could well shape the evolution of app markets in the coming years.