Gartner's top 10 mobile apps for 2012

Gartner has released a list of what it believes will be the most important consumer mobile applications next year.

Gartner has released a list of what it believes will be the most important consumer mobile applications next year.

In order to distinguish themselves, mobile apps will have to be more than just an extension of the online world we already use on laptops and PCs, according to the research group. Instead, they'll have to include some element of environment into their function.

Considering that, Gartner came up with a list of 10 app types:

  1. Location-based services (LBSs): these apps deliver services to users based on where they are, who they are (age, gender etc) and what they like. Gartner expects the total user base of consumer location-based services to reach 1.4 billion users by 2014.
  2. Social networking: hubs for videos, emails, photos, games and commerce.
  3. Mobile search: to bring mobile search to the next level, Gartner thinks that given users' short time spans, the app needs to allow users to take actions based on the result. For example, they could make a call or reservation, buy a ticket or place an order.
  4. Mobile commerce: unique mobile functions could be checking in to a store to tell a retailer you're there, or adding items into a shopping cart by taking a photo of the item for its barcode in the physical store. Amazon already sports such a function where users can use an iPhone to scan a barcode and order a book via the online retail giant.
  5. Mobile payment: Gartner doesn't think near field communication (NFC) will go mainstream until 2015, despite the fact that NFC payment is slated for inclusion in high-end phones this year (the Nexus S will ship with this functionality). The key will be ease of use, but tough security according to the research firm.
  6. Context-aware service: context-aware applications goes further than location-based services to use information about a person's interests, intentions, history, environment, activities, schedule, priorities, connections and preferences to serve content, products or services.
  7. Object recognition (OR): as sensors get better, phones should recognise a user's surroundings, including objects of interest, according to Gartner, which will improve search and entertainment on phones.
  8. Mobile instant messaging (MIM): Gartner thinks that instant messaging will join with Skype in a unified communications love-fest, which will threaten traditional carrier revenues.
  9. Mobile email: use of email on phones is expected to boom from 354 million users in 2009 to 713 million users in 2014, according to Gartner.
  10. Mobile video: large-screened smartphones and tablets offer a great platform to watch videos in Gartner's eyes. It sees partnerships between carriers and YouTube, allowing users to keep their video addiction going while on the run. Preloaded HD and 3D content will differentiate phones.