Mobile applications will be downloaded more than 268 billion times by 2017, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe, according to a report by IT research firm Gartner.
The report noted businesses and their brands are already using mobile apps as a primary component of their user engagement strategies.Meanwhile, the use of mobile devices, including wearable devices, is expanding into other areas of consumer and business activities, allowing mobile apps to become even more prevalent in consumer society.
"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," Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funneling data through mobile apps. As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data — what they say, what they do, where they go — that is transforming the app interaction paradigm."
Wearable devices like smart watches and health and wellness 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.
"In the next three to four years, apps will no longer be simply confined to smartphones and tablets, but will impact a wider set of devices, from home appliances to cars and wearable devices," Blau continued. "By 2017, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will drive 50 percent of total app interactions."
In addition, large service providers such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are likely to have a head start in the cognizant computing 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, which Gartner analysts say is a key asset in the space.
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.
In addition, the amount of equipment or service data to call upon is relatively small compared with an outdoor environment, where the surrounding conditions and user intentions are more diverse.
"Cognizant computing takes intelligent actions on behalf of users based on their historical data, preferences and rules," Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "It can predict user needs and complete tasks without users initiating the action or interfering with the service. It can take the very simplistic format of completing a recurring event such as to turn on the water heater at a preset time, or the more sophisticated format of calling the rescue services and connecting with the doctor when an emergency occurs."