“Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.
Currently, apps often provide an opportunity for brands to reach and engage with customers in a direct way, and therefore data coming from the user is often treated as a resource. This is especially true of free apps, which in 2013 account for 92 percent of app downloads. App users are providing troves of data and often accept advertising or data connectivity in exchange for access to the app.
Gartner said that brands and businesses are already using mobile apps as a primary component of their user engagement strategies, and as the use of mobile devices, including wearable devices, expands into other areas of consumer and business activities, mobile apps will become even more significant.
According to the report, wearable devices will use mobile apps as their conduit for data exchange and user interface, because many of them will have few or no user interface capabilities. Offloading that responsibility to the mobile device means the wearable devices will depend on apps for all types of user input or output, configuration, content creation and consumption, and in some cases, basic connectivity.
Gartner also predicts that by 2015, cognizant computing will be a key enabler in smart home solutions. Cognizant computing can play a meaningful role at home because home settings are stable with relatively fixed equipment, and the user behavior there is routine and predictable. According to Gartner, large service providers such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are likely to have a head start in this market due to the relationship they already have with consumers, which provides them with a large repository of user data that they can analyze and predict — a key asset in cognizant computing. In addition, consumers also trust these brands to manage their personal data — another key aspect in cognizant computing, whereas newcomers will have to build these relationships from scratch.