2008 Predictions 1, 2 and 3

Unlike Carlo’s all-at-once approach, I’m splitting my 2008 predictions into bit sized pieces across a few days. Last year, I got 7 out of 10, revised to 8 out of 10 by one generous reader. Let’s see if I can do better.

1. Privacy

I already wrote about this a couple of weeks back if you missed it and don’t have much more to say than that.

However, if Carlo’s buzzword for the year is “Open”, mine’s going to “Privacy”. Consumer groups, activists, the media and Opposition governments will unite to ensure it’s always high on the agenda and will swoop at the first hint of scandal or abuse.

While marketing might not be the prime target, it may well suffer from the fall out. So add to your checklist of things to do in the new year a review of your privacy policies and procedures. Are they fair, are the secure and would you stake the future of your business on them?

2. 2008 is the Year of the Mobile Web

2007 saw huge increases in mobile web traffic, particularly where flat rate data tariffs were available. Happily most operators have woken up to this now, although how they resisted so long beats me.

Of course, even in markets where they have been introduced, like the UK, they’re still too expensive, but I think we’ll see more downward movement to take the Mobile Web across its Rubicon.

One of the interesting side effects of this will be that the US (where fairer data pricing has long been the norm) will start to dominate content in the same way as they do with the PC web. Up until now, Europe has more than held its own in mobile web content, but the sheer number of US users will attract entrepreneurs and established business alike. In the meantime, many business people in Europe still think that mobile is something to do with sms and are going to miss out on the Gold Rush.

So much for Europe’s lead in mobile. Ho hum.

As a side note, when I presented these to Mobile Monday in Frankfurt, Germany a few weeks back, the second point on the slide after “2008 is the ‚ÄúYear of the Mobile Web‚Äù was
“‚Ķ..but not in Germany!”. German operators alone still seem to think that they can rape their customers with impunity over data charges. No matter, one will break ranks soon and Germany will arrive at the party late, dishevelled, out of breath and start talking about how curious it is that their world leadership in mobile has disappeared in the last 5 years.

3. 3.5 Billion Phones

I asked a few pundits to share their predictions with me for the next year and the only one to do so was our pal Tomi Ahonen, who writes the excellent Communities Dominate Brands blog, along with Alan Moore, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time recently. The people who refused all did so on the grounds that “they don’t make predictions”. Probably very wise as if you make them, you can also be proved wrong, as we’ve seen on our 2007 roundup. But then – where’s the fun in safe?

Tomi pointed out that the big milestone next year is 3.5 Billion phones, which means that there’s now more than one mobile for every two people on the planet. Obviously, with multiple ownership, it doesn’t yet mean that 1 person in 2 will have a mobile – yet – but it’s still a pretty awesome number.

In comparison, there’s about 1.5 Billion TVs out there, which is why people get excited about the reach of this new media channel. And then think about how much more you can do with a phone than a TV and you have something that’s going to have a fundamental impact on the way we live our lives, both in developed nations and the emerging ones.

Incidentally, everyone knows (I think) that the BRIC markets are the ones to watch (and if you don’t, this is Brazil, Russian, India and China), but do you know about the next wave – the so called N11, as coined by Goldman Sachs? All ripe for investment and growth apparently and thus very important ones to watch for mobile and the impact THEY have on how WE do things in the future.

Look out for more predictions in the next few days.

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