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Six forecasts for the 2012 mobile phone market

Many businesses rely heavily on mobile phones for their day-to-day activities, but how many are aware the changes coming to the mobile landscape this year will affect the way they connect with customers? Here’s your 2012 mobile phone market forecast.

According to WhistleOut director Cameron Craig, businesses can look forward to a raft of new mobile phone launches this year as well as the arrival of a number of new trends, which will impact the way they attract and connect with customers.

“It will be hard to pick a bad phone in 2012 as there’s a tonne of solid new releases this year, with one of the most intriguing and potentially disruptive coming from previous market leader Nokia,” he said.

Here are Craig’s six forecasts for the 2012 mobile phone market:

1. Nokia rises again

With Nokia set to release the first of their new Windows phone products this year, this is the brand’s big shot at a comeback in Australia’s smartphone market where their leadership position has been overtaken in just a few short years.

These new phones in 2012 see Microsoft now running the operating system of phones like the Nokia Lumia 800. The early reviews of these new Windows-powered Nokia phones are in and overall they’re very positive. Nokia has been sidelined by Apple and Android in the past few years but they are a familiar and trusted brand and if they can put a stunning phone in people’s hands then they should be on their way to a comeback. Microsoft is rumoured to be offering big incentives this year to try and get these devices sold to consumers.

2. SMS volumes to fall

SMS volumes in Australia have continued to grow for years. However, the rollout of the iPhone 4S and the iOS5 operating system on existing iPhones where messaging is free via iMessage, plus the increasing take up applications like WhatsApp and Viber, will mean that consumers are increasingly able to communicate in SMS format for free over data networks and WiFi without paying the traditionally expensive SMS rates of around 25c per message.

The new iPhone 4S makes this seamless and carriers will see SMS volumes decay as consumers move their high-frequency short messaging onto these apps.

3. Pay for goods by tapping your phone

The technology required for transferring money between phones by tapping phones together or tapping a store’s terminal is rolling out now. NFC (Near Field Communications) is a massive upgrade from Bluetooth. Samsung is already offering it on their Galaxy Nexus along with a virtual wallet – the “Google Wallet” – in the US.

In 2012 we will see the technology further refined. Soon we could be tapping phones to transfer music, money and make payments everywhere. This year, Coles and Woolworths are completing their rollout of contactless payment options and mobile phones will increasingly play a part in this as the technology washes up on our shores from the US.

4. Carriers increase their online push

We’ve seen an online retail shopping boom in Australia last year and your mobile carrier has taken note. They’re all offering better details than retail stores and they’re all investing heavily to improve their websites to allow for self-management of billing and multiple products.

5. Networks improve & Vodafone offers money-back guarantee

Carriers have all spent big on their networks in 2011 and consumers will see improved faster networks in 2012.

Vodafone has introduced a satisfaction guarantee on their network, which is a big move to rebuild trust with customers – they’re offering a 30-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.

6. Networks offer exclusive content

Vodafone has exclusive rights on the cricket for mobile phones; Telstra has the rights for the AFL, V8 Supercars and NRL; and Optus has the Tennis and a catch-up TV offer that is in the courts.

As network speeds increase and your mobile phone really becomes the ‘third screen’, exclusive content will be a key weapon to attract and retain customers.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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