Top 10 Mobile App Trends in 2012

What will be the top mobile apps of the future? In a report released today by research firm Gartner, that answer is “money transfer.”

What’s more interesting to us mobile marketers is what lands in the #2  and #3 spots on their list: “Location-Based Services” and “Mobile Search.” Also, the #8 spot goes to our favorite “Mobile Advertising.” My post earlier this morning on location-based advertiser 1020 Placecast’s latest round of funding supports the thesis that when it comes to mobile, people expect to be able to discover things around them. That makes sense — after all, what good is a mobile device if you can’t have access to information that you need in the moment?

Gartner reports that location-based services will be “one of the most disruptive in the next few years.” Gartner predicts that the LBS user base will grow globally from 96 million in 2009 to more than 526 million 2012. “Its high user value is the result of its ability to meet a range of needs, ranging from productivity and goal fullfillment to social networking and entertainment.”

Mobile search, which Gartner notes has an ultimate purpose “to drive sales and marketing opportunities on the mobile phone,” is only lacking now in user experience. Once “the industry improves the user experience of mobile search so that people will come back again,” Gartner predicts it will be the third most popular app in 2012.

Coming in at #8, mobile advertising is no laughing matter. Total spending on mobile advertising in 2008 was $530.2 million, which Gartner expects will grow to $7.5 billion in 2012. “Mobile advertising will be an important way to monetize content on the mobile Internet, offering free applications and services to end users. The mobile channel will be used as part of larger advertising campaigns in various media, including TV, radio, print and outdoors,” says Gartner.

Here’s the full top 10 mobile app types of the future, according to Gartner:

1. Money Transfer
2. Location-Based Services
3. Mobile Search
4. Mobile Browsing
5. Mobile Health Monitoring
6. Mobile Payment
7. Near Field Communication Services
8. Mobile Advertising
9. Mobile Instant Messaging
10. Mobile Music