Apps to drive massive personal data cloud

Cape Town - The growth of smartphones and related applications will create a massive personal data stream as people increasingly turn to mobile device functionality.

According to research firm Gartner, the use of apps will result a personalised data stream of 100 apps and services per user per day.

"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.

The company said that by 2017, mobile apps will generate more than 268 billion downloads and revenue of $77bn as firms use the technology to drive engagement with customers.

Appliance apps

Blau said that the massive data set that will be created will fundamentally change the way that people and companies interact.

"This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funnelling 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."

He added that the apps "philosophy" will continue to expand to other devices - as is currently the case with smart TVs - home appliances might run applications as they become smarter and connected to the internet.

Imagine for example, a fridge that places orders for food items to match downloaded recipes, or a washing machine that can check the integrity of clothing and order replacements online.

Already, vehicle manufacturers are experimenting with cars that can book a service autonomously and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a self-parking car was demonstrated.

"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," said Blau.


One of the areas that could see explosive growth in apps is wearable technology, but consumer acceptance, as well as technological reliability, are key challenges in the expansion of the wearables market.

Security has also emerged as a concern for people who adopt technologies that rely of personal information.

"We understand that trust is the ultimate asset and if you lose it then all of your business is at stake. We've got to make sure that every step along the way, we're building customer trust," said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart at the World Economic Forum currently underway in Davos, Switzerland.

"They [consumers] do want to save time, they do want access to information, but we have to provide it in a way that causes them to be comfortable and trust us as we go," he added.

Despite the challenges, Gartner predicted that by wearable technology will drive half of user interactions with applications.

"While wearable devices will not fully rely on, or be a slave to, mobile devices, it is a way for manufacturers to keep these devices small and efficient, therefore significantly reducing device costs in favour of using apps, which are more easily maintained and updated," said Blau.

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