From the anticipated arrival of the iPhone 5 that never came to swiping phones in stores to make a purchase, 2011 was an exciting year for mobile phones.

As smartphones get smarter and consumer expectations rise, the mobile tech industry has stepped up to the plate to offer innovative and cutting-edge services. Here is a look at eight influential mobile phone stories and trends that surfaced throughout the year.

What do you think is in store for next year? Will we finally see that iPhone 5? Share your predictions in the comments below.

1. Mobile Payments Heat Up

Shoppers in parts of Asia have been tapping their smartphones to pay for in-store purchases for years, thanks to a technology called near field communications (NFC). This year the U.S. made strides toward the tech, especially with the arrival of Google Wallet, which allows users to store credit and loyalty cards on their mobile device. A phone equipped with an NFC chip can be tapped on any PayPass-enabled terminal at checkout to make a purchase.


Many expected the next-generation iPhone 5 to be unveiled on Oct. 4 2011 after the company invited press to its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters to its “Let’s talk iPhone” event. Instead, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S. Although the new device is a highly-advanced smartphone, many were disappointed by its release since they were expecting a next-generation model.


It may not have been the iPhone 5, but Apple did introduce its smartest smartphone yet: The iPhone 4S. The exterior may look the same as the iPhone 4, but it boasts a faster and more advanced interior. Along with an 8-megapixel camera, iCloud capabilities and access to the Sprint network, it also comes with powerful voice recognize software Siri, which serves as a virtual assistant. Apple founder and tech visionary Steve Jobs died following a long battle with pancreatic cancer just one day after the iPhone 4S debuted.


Two-dimensional quick response, or “QR,” codes started to pop up more in digital and print marketing campaigns in 2011 to provide consumers with more access to related information on the Internet. When an image of the code is captured by a quick response scanner or mobile phone camera, the user’s device is connected to an abundance of information, social media sites or coupons related to the product or marketing campaign.

Sears and Kmart integrated the concept into their holiday marketing initiatives. For example, they placed billboards in highly-trafficked areas such as airports and train stations with toy product pictures and corresponding QR codes to encourage on-the-go shoppers to make purchases.


Sure, Angry Birds was hugely popular in 2010, but the growth of mobile games continued to soar in 2011. According to a report by Nielson, games were the most popular type of apps among smartphone users, beating out search, maps/navigation, and social networking and music apps for the top spot. In addition, a whopping 93% of all users are willing to pay for a mobile game. The overall app market continued to grow as well. In fact, the first-ever physical app store opened in Colorado, where shoppers can browse apps, get advice and receive app recommendations from in-store experts.


Statistics from The Nielsen Company revealed that Google’s Android mobile operating system climbed to the top spot of the U.S. smartphone market, beating out competitors such as Apple (iPhone) and Research in Motion (BlackBerry).


Along with the unveiling of Apple’s latest operating system iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion, it introduced its highly-anticipated iCloud service, which stores music, photos, apps and more, and wirelessly pushes them to all of your devices automatically. Google also launched a similar music service earlier in the year, which allows users to upload their existing music libraries so they can be streamed from mobile devices and other computers.


The scandal surrounding a diagnostic program called Carrier IQ installed on millions of mobile phones worldwide became the center of attention – and the focus of several lawsuits — when news circulated that it was logging user activity and relaying at least some of that information to wireless carriers. The carriers said they will use that information to improve their networks, but the software’s tracking of users’ mobile behavior has raised a series of privacy concerns.

Source: Mashable

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