The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that more than 2 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet via mobile devices. The scope of mobile has exponentially widened over a very short period of time: we use mobile for talking, messaging, search, music, education, commerce, games, social, romantic, and everything in between.
When I got my first mobile phone (it was a red Nokia — remember those?) back in 2000, I did exactly three things on it: I talked, messaged and played Snake. Now the possibilities are endless.
This is only possible because of innovative companies pushing the mobile envelope, responding to fierce competition and their desire to create the future.
Here are five companies redefining — and re-creating — the mobile landscape of today:
Remember last summer when all you saw when driving down the street was people running while repeatedly swiping forward on their device? Yep, that was the Pokemon GO craze at its peak.
Nintendo owns just over a third of the Pokemon GO franchise, and because of Pokemon Go, the Japanese company earned $115 million, as reported in their second-quarter earnings of 2016.
Pokemon GO was our collective introduction to Augmented Reality (AR) and how it redefined mobile gaming, and the mobile experience itself.
Despite mixed reviews in the new year, Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, developed in-house (in partnership with DeNA, Co.) grossed $5 million in under 24 hours at its launch. Their payment model is somewhat controversial (it’s free but for the full version, users have to pay $9.99), yet most users have reviewed it quite favorably.
Maybe Super Mario Run isn’t as groundbreaking as Pokemon GO, but it alludes to mobile users’ desire for the throwback — the classic game, app or device — that brings us full-circle to where we are now. Many are watching Nintendo to see what else they cook up in 2017.
Related: Nintendo Is Leaving Its Comfort Zone, and We're All Better Off
How do we know for sure that Snapchat is redefining mobile?
Because everyone's copying them (ahem, Facebook, ahem). And because they are taking wearables to a whole new level, evidenced by their release of Spectacles. Snap Inc. is also in talks with a wearable camera company, according to Business Insider.
The unique thing about Snapchat is that they refuse to be bought out, and they keep innovating in the otherwise Facebook-dominated space of messaging and photo sharing (think Instagram and WhatsApp). Their new mission statement reads: “Snap Inc. is a camera company.” This foreshadows what we can expect from the company, as well as from mobile — in the coming years.
Related: The Quick Guide to Using Snapchat for Business in 2016
Periscope plays on our natural human curiosity combined with the need to see things with our own eyes. Periscope was one of the first commercially viable mobile live-streaming services despite Facebook Live eclipsing it; it launched just a mere 5 months before Facebook Live and was acquired by Twitter at this time as well.
Now, live videos are a tool for both social and geopolitical arenas. Socially, the app is used between friends and acquaintances, as well as exploring other parts of the world in a social way (there is a map feature where you can choose which live videos to watch based on their location).
The app is also used to livestream geopolitical events such as protests, riots and newsworthy interviews (like the recent Edward Snowden interview).
Periscope is a company changing the way we interact with our world — and making that interaction more mobile.
Related: Vine To Continue As A Camera App
Appnext is commercially known as an in-app advertising platform and one of the biggest demand-side platforms (DSPs), exclusively dedicated to apps. In the past two years, the company has been in M&A discussions with a number of industry giants but preferred to stay independent. This step makes sense given impressive growth numbers and a new product line the Appnext team will be releasing this year.
The coming releases will, reportedly, enable mobile publishers and marketers to tap into real-time user context, and deliver their content when it’s essential to users’ actual needs. For example, identifying the moment a user is about to leave the office creates an opportunity for transportation services to reach him or her with a personalized message for a navigation, taxi or carpooling app.
Since targeting specific user contexts and moods has been on marketers’ wish lists for decades, it may completely change the way we experience our devices and complete actions on mobile. Appnext’s new understanding of mobile is all about connecting everything and consolidating it all into one place to make your life easier. This is just the tip of the iceberg in context-driven mobile activity that we will see in 2017, and the future.
Courier services used to be for the rich, but now they’re for anyone who can tap or swipe on their mobile device. Postmates popularized the “on-demand delivery” industry with their food-dominated delivery app.
Postmates reminds us that through mobile, you can get nearly anything delivered to your door. As a startup that just raised $160 million in October, and according to TechCrunch, investors are confident in Postmates’ business model, which differs from most mobile on-demand delivery services. The company earns more from the businesses themselves rather than just through the delivery fees. Starbucks and Apple are working with Postmates to integrate the Postmates API into their own ordering platforms.
The mobile, on-demand economy is nothing new, however, Postmates’ model is the most sustainable, as it seems to bring in real revenue through marketing opportunities (better placement on the app) and other perks for members.
These 5 companies are redefining what mobile means in our time. Through AR, documenting one’s world, contextually-relevant apps and smart on-demand businesses, these companies are redefining how we interact with each other and our world. Mobile, as a stronghold in our modern world, isn’t going any where, and will continue to redefine us, our relationships and our world — this year, and in the future.