Can We Help You? Chatbots, Assistants and Other Mobile Game-changers
// Igor Ulis // The Drum

As we look forward to 2017, here are some trends we’re paying close attention to.

The explosion of 3D video                   
                    
One of the most publicized features rolled out as part of the iPhone 7 Plus launch in September 2016 was the dual-camera system. Not only does it allow for super-close up pictures and videos, this innovative technology will fuel the growth of user-generated 3D content. With more and more devices entering the market that support the capture of 3D video, coupled with the fact that there are nearly four billion people globally with mobile devices and nearly half of those are active social media users, we predict an infusion of this content across all social media networks throughout 2017.

Bots, bots and more bots

An article that ran in an April edition of The Economist questioned whether or not ‘bots are the new frontier’. Given the strategic conversations we’ve had with many clients over the last few months, we feel this could very well be the case.

Several of our clients, notably our long-standing partner PGA Tour, are very interested in integrating this technology into their digital properties. Using the PGA Tour as an example, imagine you’re in the app and, rather than extensive browsing, you’re able to ask the bot what time your favourite player is teeing off that day. The bot, powered by artificial intelligence, understands you and your question and will give you the answer nearly instantaneously.

Given that upwards of 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app downloaded on their phone, messaging is truly ingrained in the overall mobile experience. As this technology continues to advance, more and more developers will look to release additional services through chatbot-like interfaces on top of existing messaging and social platforms.

Micropayment model

We’ve all heard – and spoken – the moniker ‘personalisation is key.’ The notion of democratisation of content is predicated on this concept.

Take Blendle, the three-year-old company out of the Netherlands as an example. Its two founders, both former journalists, took advantage of a real opportunity to create a platform allowing users to choose the content they wanted to consume across all major publishers.
Rather than paying for an entire content bundle (in this case, anything from the New York Times to the Financial Times), users pay a nominal fee per article. In lieu of dealing with paywalls of individual subscriptions, Blendle subscribers fill their wallet (all accounts start with $2.50) which is then drawn upon on a per-article basis.

Time will tell if the micropayment model works for the publishing industry. Using the music industry, and the success of iTunes as a guide, we think this model is something to pay close attention to in 2017.

Personal assistance

The advancement of machine learning technologies will continue to make our lives easier in 2017. Simply stated, improvements in this technology will create virtual personal assistants who, based on deductive conclusions from your behavioural and data-driven preferences, will help simplify your life.

This technology will greatly benefit both our professional and personal lives. Imagine having an assistant who is able to set up a meeting for you based on email exchanges in your inbox or one who knows you leave for work around eight each morning and sends you the latest traffic updates before you get in the car. Having this level of assistance will save tremendous time, allowing us to be significantly more productive.

Flex model

Another idea we’re paying close attention to in 2017 is the potential rollout of flexible phone displays. While the concept is not necessarily new, as there have been working prototypes showcased over the last few years, rumour has it that smartphones featuring bendable screens will be formally rolled out in early 2017.

Although wearable technology is already in the market, it hasn’t caught on as many had expected it to. Given that these phones are said to have the full capability of existing smartphones, while also allowing for multiple layout options (sources say some might be able to fold in half, others might be able to be worn around wrists), the launch of these could really be an industry game-changer.

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