Android Dominance Cemented
One factor marketers can't afford to overlook when devising mobile strategies is the software running at the core of the devices they're targeting. The operating system comes into play with apps, websites, and beyond. While Apple's iPhone and iPad are largely synonymous with smartphones and tablets respectively, Android is the king of mobile operating systems. That fact was driven home loud and clear in 2013.
According to data from IDC, Google's Android operating system recently snagged more than 80% of the global market share  - and that's only in the smartphone segment! iOS, by comparison, only recorded a 12.9% share. Apple devices are a major force in the U.S. and competitors like Microsoft's Windows Mobile are on the rise, but the success of Samsung phones and others running the software has more businesses realizing that Android development should be included in their mobile marketing plans.
Mobile Commerce Emerges
Back when mobile marketing was more myth than reality, one of the most anticipated developments was the arrival of technology that would enable consumers to make purchases from their phones. This aspect has been of particular interest to marketers because it means that instead of merely providing information, you can actually get customers to shop in your store on the go. While this space is still very much in the development stage, like mobile marketing itself, it has gone from concept to reality. According to a report from comScore, one in seven smartphone owners in Europe make online purchases directly from a smartphone .
Beyond direct purchases, the mobile explosion has given businesses more creative ways to reach their audience. Despite largely being considered a basic luxury these days, GPS is playing a huge role in some of the most creative of those endeavours. For instance, by leaving the GPS feature in smartphones, local businesses can target customers with coupons or offers to convince them to pay a visit when in the vicinity of their location. These so-called geo-targeting capabilities are being adopted by social startups like Foursquare, which just recently incorporated them in its own advertising solution.
Performance Becomes Priority
The more common mobile becomes, the more expectations user develop. Already, people are expecting to enjoy the same performance on their smartphones and tablets that their desktops dish out. They want email that offers conveniently accessible and fully functional links. Websites that load quickly and enable seamless navigation. Video that provides a crisp and smooth viewing experience. To cater to these demands, marketers are putting an enhanced focused on responsive design practices that encourage a consistent browsing performance across multiple devices, and technologies like HTML 5 that support mobile video without the need for iffy plugins.
QR Codes Taken Serious
Quick response (QR) codes emerged in Japan many years ago, but in 2013, made what was arguably their biggest splash yet in the North American market. According to data by eMarketer, 25% of smartphone users in the U.S. have scanned a QR code, 15% higher than what has been established as the average in Europe . Additionally, a report by Nellymoser found that they drive higher response rates than direct mail.
The appeal to QR codes is twofold. First they are easy to scan with the quick swipe of a consumer's smartphone. Moreover, they offer flexibility that can be leveraged in a wide variety of ways. For example, marketers can print them on company vehicles, T-shirts, or store displays, where they can direct customers to special offers, mailing lists, and product info online. QR code usage has picked up, but marketers haven't even begun to scratch the surface of their potential.
A Sure-fire Trend
Savvy business leaders are constantly on the prowl in search of the next big thing. Trends come and go, but mobile is that can't-miss phenomenon that will likely shape multiple industries for many years to come. It's a community effort when you think about it, because while consumers create opportunities with their constant purchasing of new devices, marketers help it evolve by shaping new technologies, tools, and strategies to capitalize on them. The future is unpredictable, but on the mobile marketing front, 2014 has something exciting in store.