Last year Barclay Communications’ predicted that, “the future of technology is mobile”, and over the last 12 months technology has made massive leaps towards this vision. The UK now has its first 4G network, it hosted the first truly mobile Olympics and experienced another soar in tablet computer sales. We’re also exceeding other major nations’ Smartphone penetration and, for the first time, we’re leading the mobile and tablet data download charts.

This year Britt Megahey, Managing Director of Barclay Communications looks ahead and reveals where else mobile technology could take businesses in the next few years.

1. The Year of 4G

Later this month the UKs 4G spectrums will finally be auctioned off and by the second quarter of 2013 the mobile networks will be launching an array of new 4G tariffs to compete with EE.

As these tariffs and more 4G mobile devices begin to flood the market with the promise of faster downloading, internet and app speeds we predict more businesses will migrate to 4G, and that exciting new mobile innovations, which have been waiting for the faster connection speeds, will begin to surface.

However, businesses should remember that the networks are likely to concentrate their 4G coverage on the major cities and towns at first, but some, like O2, are aiming to achieve 98% indoor and outdoor 4G coverage by 2015.

2. Mobile continues to influence business apps, websites and working practices

Mobile apps have been revolutionising how businesses operate over the last couple of years and at the dawn of the 4G era we predict this trend and business investment will continue to grow. In fact, Digital Ad Agency Vertic forecasts that mobile app development will outnumber native PC projects 4-to-1 by 2015.

Businesses will also begin to use more cloud services to host their apps and databases, creating an online work environment that can support more mobile workers and IDC’s, a market intelligence firm, prediction that 32.7% of the world’s workforce will be mobile by 2015.

Lastly, with a sixth of all UK web traffic from a mobile, tablet or other connected device, and a fifth of Smartphone users visiting retail websites on their device (according to Ofcom), we expect to see website design moving towards a more cross-platform format that’s pleasing to view on PCs, tablets and mobiles.

3. Continued Tablet Explosion

Released in May 2010, the iPad was arguably the first tablet and largely responsible for the tablet boom. Two years later Apple had sold 67 million iPads, something that took them 24 years to achieve with the Apple Mac according to CEO, Tim Cook.

In 2012 lighter, cheaper and more portable 7 inch tablets successfully entered the market, and before the end of the year Apple estimated they would ship around 10 million iPad Minis and the Google Nexus 7 reached nearly one million sales per month according to Forbes, the American business magazine.

We believe these cost effective tablets will be snapped up by businesses this year and play a big role in achieving Gartner’s prediction that the 13 million tablets sold in 2012 for business use will more than triple by 2016.

4. The Rise of Windows Phone

Although Android and Apple currently rule the Smartphone market we believe Windows Phone, with its advanced security features, built-in Microsoft Office compatibility and seamless synchronisation with Windows 8 PCs and tablets, will be a strong lure for businesses in the coming years.

In fact, Microsoft has already sold four times as many Windows Phones in 2012 as 2011 according to their Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ballmer. If this growth continues they could realise Gartner’s, the technology researcher’s prediction and knock Apple of the number two Smartphone spot by 2015.

One contrary argument to a Windows Phone rise is the apparent lack of apps (even though there are over 100,000 in the Windows Phone Store), but Microsoft has recognised this and with Nokia they plan to invest up to 18 million Euros in a mobile app development program over the next three years.

5. A Blackberry Come Back

Only a couple of years ago a business person wouldn’t have been without their Blackberry. At its 2009 height Blackberry maker, RIM held a 19.9% share of the Smartphone market, but by the end of Q3 2012 Gartner reported that their share had dropped to just 5.3%.

However, with the Telegraph reporting that Blackberry still has 79 million global subscribers and with the launch of the completely redesigned and much awaited Blackberry 10 at the end of the month, a Blackberry come back could be on the horizon.