Technology moves at breakneck speed. Blink your eyes and you could miss the latest on VR, mobile apps, smartphones, and smart TV’s. We made some big claims last December about what trends we believe will be popping up in 2016. Since we’re hitting the halfway mark through 2016, we thought it would be interesting to revisit these trends and see whether our predictions were completely fictional, or if we were on to something big. Here are our top mobile trends for 2016 and the progress we’ve made to date.
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10. Apps will get lighter and faster to attract users in emerging markets: Making progress
While many popular apps are still inherently large, app developers are becoming more educated on the types of devices that are popular in these markets and their limited storage capacity. Google included a session on how to shrink your app size at their May Google I/O conference.
9. App developers will look beyond credit cards to increase transactions: Making progress
The majority of apps accept credit cards as the main method of payment, but some app developers are starting to incorporate other options. In emerging markets, credit card penetration is much lower than in developed markets, so alternative payment methods are popular. In May, Google began accepting carrier billing in Google Play in India for postpaid and pay-as-you-go users on Idea Cellular.
8. Dual-SIM devices will capture more market share in emerging markets: Jury is still out
It's too early to tell if the penetration of Dual SIM devices has changed. We know that dual-SIM devices remain popular in emerging markets—our second-most popular device among mCent users in May 2016 is the Xiaomi Hongmi 2 Prime 4G / Redmi 2 Prime Dual SIM. So far this year, we’ve seen Samsung lose market share in India to manufacturers like Xiaomi. As 2016 continues, we will be interested to see how much the current rates shift.
7. The average cost of an Android smartphone in Brazil may drop to $250: Not quite there
Our estimate of $250 was an ambitious one, but due to the economic downturn in the country, users are interested in more affordable smartphone options. Smartphone manufacturer Alcatel is increasing their number of affordable smartphone models in Brazil from five to nine, and Mary Meeker is hopping on our bandwagon, announcing in June of this year that she expects the global average selling point (ASP) for Android phones will fall to $206 this year. This move is progress toward a dropping smartphone cost in Brazil.
6. Google Play will shake up the Chinese app store ecosystem: Not quite there
Google Play is still absent from China, but the company seems to be taking steps to enter the country within the next six months. Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi introduced their new Mi Box—a video streaming box that will run on Android TV and supports 4k video—at this year’s Google I/O. This new, positive partnership between a Chinese powerhouse and Google could foreshadow the rumors around Google’s move to China coming to fruition.
5. Facebook’s Free Basics will continue to struggle in India: Prediction come true
Of all of our top trends, so far, this one was the most accurate prediction. Not only has Free Basics struggled in India, but in February, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) banned Free Basics from India all together. In May, The TRAI released the Consultation Paper on Free Data, which calls on the need for “A telecom service provider-agnostic platform to provide free data or suitable reimbursement to users, without violating the principles of Differential Pricing for Data laid down in TRAI Regulation.” All comments on the paper are due by June 30th of this year, so this issue is still very much in limbo.
4. India’s ‘unicorn club’ will hit double digit membership: Not quite there
In early 2016, Shopclues joined the unicorn club in India after they reached a valuation of $1.1B, but with just seven unicorn companies currently, India is far from reaching double digit unicorn status. The investment scene in India has had some recent shakeups. Morgan Stanley re-evaluated its investment in eCommerce giant Flipkart, reducing its valuation by 27% of the original $15B valuation. But it’s not all bad news—during the same time period, Snapdeal raised $200M, increasing their valuation to $6.5B. This shows that investors are still focused on the massive growth opportunities in the Indian mobile market, despite its ups and downs. Only time will tell if India’s unicorn club will hit 10 members in the second half of 2016 or if it will take more time.
3. Local ride-sharing apps will challenge Uber in emerging markets: Prediction come true
Over the last six months, Uber has faced competition from many local ride-sharing apps including Ola and GrabTaxi. Ola launched a subscription payment service for users in India in a bid to differentiate themselves from Uber. In China, Uber is facing competition from local rival Didi, who just received $1B investment from Apple. However, Uber is fighting back in big ways. The ride-sharing app has begun accepting cash as payment in Singapore and integrated Alipay globally. Their hard work in these markets is paying off. The company recently said that it tripled the number of rides taken with the app in Latin America in the first four months of 2016—the fastest growth they have seen in any region. Uber isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the competition is just heating up.
2. Messaging apps will transform into content platforms: Making progress
One of the most important slides in Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report highlights the growth in monthly active users of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat. As usage increases, these apps are looking for new ways to increase revenue, and many are doing it by mimicking WeChat and becoming platforms. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in April, the company introduced branded chatbots that integrate with the messaging platform. These bots can do many things—from delivering CNN news alerts to the ability to order flowers online from 1-800-Flowers. LINE users can now also order groceries and call a taxi on their messaging platform.
1. Messaging apps will replace social and SMS: Making progress
While SMS is still here to stay, for now, messaging apps are even more ubiquitous than they were six months ago. According to Jana data, in the last six months, WhatsApp’s penetration rate in India has grown from 81% to 95%. In Brazil, it has grown from 87% to 94%. 100% of daily active users in India and 99% of daily active users in Brazil use messaging apps.
The one trend we’re keeping our eye on is messaging apps and their transformation into platforms. As these apps fight for users’ attention, they will continue to add features and partner with other app verticals, like ride-sharing or eCommerce, to build a one-stop-shop destination for users. A lot can change in six months. We’re looking forward to seeing how the mobile industry develops in the second half of 2016.
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