David Shing, AOL's 'Digital Prophet'. Dublin Web Summit
Web Summit

Smartphone explosion - and 10 other predictions your business should know

AOL’s Digital Prophet David Shing was speaking at the Dublin Web Summit today.

THE MAN WHO AOL trusts to predict future trends in online and social media has told the Dublin Web Summit that he believes smartphones and mobiles are where people will spend most of their internet-surfing time in the near future.

David Shing, who kicked off the conference on the main stage at the RDS this morning, said that there were 1 billion smartphones in the globe. The smartphone, he said, should no longer be referred to as a second or third screen (behind, say, your laptop or desktop PC) but was for many, their “first screen”.

As a result, online companies had to begin creating mobile-compatible apps which properly addressed their users’ needs.

The shock-haired Australian gave a sharp and snappy presentation – these are some of his predictions:

  • The landline is dead. Shing says he has a landline number but it connects to a florist in London as a joke because he doesn’t believe in communicating by phone call.
  • ‘Likes’ on Facebook and other social networks are a “rubbish” concept. Only 18 per cent of people who ‘like’ a brand have any intention of buying one of their products.
  • There will be a backlash in social media as it starts to get too diluted and, dare we say it, stalker-like – eg, allowing you to pick your seat on an airplane beside someone you spot on LinkedIn who you want to connect with.
  • The backlash will take the form of defriending, unfollowing, culling our social networks.
  • Allowing people to interact isn’t just letting them comment – sharing videos, audio and pictures are also tools of empowerment.
  • “Attention is the new currency”: the web has become “overwhelming” so curation of niche interests will be important.
  • Authenticity and active engagement: that’s what users want now.
  • Generic advertising is out – it has to be tailored to users’ interests.
  • Location is vital for mobile services to tailor towards where you are, when you’re there, what you’re doing there.
  • It will be all about video calls on our phone by 2015.

And his lessons for companies trying to harness social networks? Harness pre-existing communities, constantly innovate even if it means failing sometimes (“fail-forward”, apparently).

Read: Coder Dojo founder, aged 20, honoured at Web Summit>

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