During a presentation at LeWeb in Paris this morning, Forrester’s CEO and Chairman George Colony argued that a number of major forces are converging to shake up the social world online as we know it today. To Forrester, services like Foursquare are “nonsense” and “unevolved” that will soon be replaced with services that won’t waste their users time.
Social Saturation: We’re Running Out of People and Hours
According to Colony, one major problem for new social online services is that it’s simply “running out of people.” More people now use social services online than pray, exercise or use the phone. Social, thinks Forrester, “is running out of hours” and people. 86% of urban European Internet users now use some kind of social online service, for example.
Talking to developers, Forrester warned that we are indeed in a bubble. Time-wasting social apps like Foursquare, Colony argued, will be swept away soon. To be successful, the next generation of social and mobile apps will be more efficient and move away from wasting time to saving time.
Future of Mobile: Invisible Context
In Forrester’s view, the future of the mobile web is in what the company calls “invisible” context. The company’s analysts argue that location, for example, will remain to be a very important factor in mobile. While we won’t see many services where location is important just for the sake of location, it will still remain very important, but mostly to provide “invisible” context. “Location,” Forrester argues,”is no longer a service, like maps or navigation, but is increasingly an enabler of new product experiences. Consumer product strategists should think beyond location alone but should couple this feature — which will be increasingly accurate, particularly indoors — with other data sources, such as user context and past behaviors.”
To See the Future of Mobile, Look East
True to LeWeb’s focus on social, local and mobile this year, Forrester also presented some interesting data about the state of these businesses. According to the company’s data, it’s imperative for businesses and analysts to look at the developments in countries like China, India or Brazil to get a better idea of the future of social media. While only 26% of Internet users Europe and the U.S. regularly tweet or update their social network status, for example, 66% of Chinese users, 79% of India’s Internet users and 82% of consumers in Brazil do so. While only 10% of all consumers in the Asia-Pacific region completely abstain from all social activity online, 21% in Western Europe do so.
Forrester’s data also shows that workers in the U.S. are now more mobile than social for now. One of the reasons for this seems to be a generational gap, as only 9% of older U.S. information workers now use collaborative social tools like wikis or Intranet-based social tools like Salesforce’s Chatter, that number swells to 18% for younger (18-31) workers.
In Europe, on the other hand, there seems to be a wider acceptance of mobile social tools. According to Forrester’s research, 19% of tablet and smartphone users in Europe now use social media application for work on their mobile devices.
While Europe is generally ahead of the curve with regard to adopting social business tools, other mobile metrics show room for improvement. In China, for example, about a third of all of mobile users access social networking sites at least once per month. In Europe, only 11% of mobile phone owners do so.
Quite surprisingly, users in France, Germany, Spain and Italy also seems to be lag behind in the adoption of mobile Internet access in general. Just between 10 to 18% of the population in these countries accesses the Internet on mobile devices.