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Analyst: Money transfer soon to be No. 1 phone app

Surprisingly absent from Gartner's top 10 predictions for mobile-device use in 2012, based on impact to consumers and industry players, is gaming.

If smartphones aren't already helping us navigate the modern world, they are certainly on track to do so soon.

In Gartner's top 10 predictions for how consumers will use their mobile devices in the year 2012, location-based services landed the No. 2 position, just behind money transfer.

There aren't many surprises on the list, released Wednesday by the analyst firm, though I would have expected to see gaming enter the top 10 consumer applications for mobile devices within the next two years, especially considering the firm previously predicted that mobile gaming revenue would experience a compound annual growth rate of 10.2 percent between 2007 and 2011 with worldwide end-user spending reaching $6.3 billion in 2011.

Gartner's list is based on impact to consumers and industry players, with consideration of revenue, loyalty, business model, consumer value and estimated market penetration. Depending on where you focus geographically, I would imagine that the order of this list could change pretty dramatically. For instance, mobile money transfer is popular in Asia and emerging nations in Africa, but far less common in the United States.

As with any other list of analyst predictions, there are a huge number of variables that can affect trends from one year to the next. Money transfer and near-field communication services are applications that could function on any kind of mobile device, whereas browsing and advertising are likely more relevant to smartphones, which Gartner expects to account for 45.5 percent of all mobile phone sales in 2013, up from just over 9 percent in 2008.

Previously, Gartner projected mobile ad spending worldwide to grow 74 pecent in 2009 to $913.5 million, but not really accelerate until 2011, when advertisers are expected to boost mobile spending as part of an overall shift toward digital marketing channels. By 2013, the firm expects mobile ad spending to surpass $13 billion, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way, followed by North America and Europe.

Gartner's top 10 consumer mobile applications for 2012:

  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

Research and consulting firm Tower Group predicted earlier this year that the number of people actively using mobile banking in the U.S. "will grow by more than five times by the end of 2013" representing a compound annual growth rate of 51.8 percent.

Gartner's complete list with accompanying analysis is available in the firm's newsroom.