2013: ‘Year of the Mobile’

According to Chinese astrology, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. As a true geek, I believe that 2013 is the Year of the Mobile. Many of us are eager to know whether mobile publishing will have better luck in the forthcoming year than previous years. Since the traditional ancient astrology Five Element (metal, water, wood, fire, and earth) theory doesn’t have much to offer on this particular subject, I’ll use my own theories and observations to predict and foresee what will happen in 2013.

Smartphones and tablets are no longer in their infancy; they are powerful computers in our pockets and purses. Cellular networks are faster than ever and free Wi-Fi networks have covered more and more areas in recent years. Mobile Internet is no longer used by a handful of techies and other early adopters; its adoption has been quite dramatic. 2013 promises to be even bigger. I predict that mobile adoption among the publishing consumers, publishers, and advertisers will continue to rise. On the other hand, Apple iOS and Android-based devices will continue to dominate smartphone and tablet markets. Unfortunately, Apple development will become increasingly complex due to fragmentation of its leading operating systems between the iOS 5 and 6 devices. Variety of screen sizes and resolutions for iPad 2, iPad, iPad Mini, as well as iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 could make it a lot more technologically challenging and expensive to create consistent end-user experiences across all Apple mobile devices.

Android-focused development efforts could become even more complicated since smartphone manufacturers have their own versions of the Android operating system. The Android portfolio of screen sizes and resolutions is going to become even more diverse. Therefore, most mobile publishers will experience a mix of good and bad fortune. In other words, if responsive design is not your favorite element, then you should keep a distance from mobile publishing in 2013. If it is, you will build a website once that will work seamlessly across thousands of different screens, resolutions, or versions of operating systems. For publishers, it offers the simplest way to reach readers across multiple devices. For their users, it ensures a great experience on every screen.

Gartner predicts that mobile ads will collectively bring in over $11 billion in revenue by the end of this year. The company also predicts that mobile Internet use will surpass legacy PC browser-based Internet use by the end of 2013. Unfortunately, while mobile advertising is slowly gaining serious ground, most publishers aren’t able to monetize their mobile inventory as effectively as their traditional web properties. In other words, since PC and mobile ads are opposite elements, publishers’ fortune may start to change its direction for worse should we see strong signs of the above trend.

Based on Pew Research Center’s findings, over 50 percent of consumers who use tablets prefer reading media site content via the mobile web instead of an app version of the same property. While commonly viewed as a form of mobile devices in recent years, the use of tablets and PC browsers will become more and more interchangeable for most consumers in 2013. As such, I predict that a lot of publishers will not only shift their focus from apps to mobile websites but also won’t be including tablets in their mobile strategy.

Last but not least, I’m predicting that a significantly increasing number of consumers won’t use their smartphones and tablets interchangeably. An increasing number of consumers will limit their smartphone use to a handful of very basic operations like: simple searches or discoveries, uploading pictures they just took, price comparisons, etc. At the same time, demands for local content among advertisers as well as publishers’ ability to monetize it in a very lucrative fashion will continue to be on the rise. As such, I predict that more “local” publishers or publishers with local content will be shifting their focus to mobile-optimized solutions at a greater pace. I also predict that a great number of them will be either creating or enhancing their location-enabled web features and content in 2013. In other words, if your lucky element is “local,” then your fortune will begin to take off at a greater speed.

Before predicting your own “mobile” luck in 2013, you have to know what type of element your site is and what lucky “mobile” elements could be major factors in determining your mobile’s fortune. Here’s to the Year of the Mobile!

Mobile image on home page via Shutterstock.

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