As Mobile World Congress approaches, let's look into mobile's future

With Mobile World Congress (MWC) almost upon us, the mobile industry is already geared up to set us on a path for the next year.

New handsets will be announced and pre-announced, partnerships forged, services and apps unveiled, and future technologies demoed, giving us a pretty good idea of where the next twelve months will take us.

But what if we zoomed out quite a bit more and took a bit of a shot in the dark to try to predict the mobile trends for the next decade.

That’s precisely what mobile strategist Rudy De Waele asked 50+ industry experts to do – his ‘personal mobile heroes’. And they complied, including your humble TechCrunch Europe Contributing Editor (republished below), along with heavyweights such as Howard Rheingold, Douglas Rushkoff, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Gerd Leonhard, Stefan Constantinescu, Kevin C. Tofel, and many, many more.

The resulting predictions have been compiled into a presentation published on SlideShare that’s now been viewed over 40,000 times – and while the presentation was first published a month or so ago, it’s been updated quite a few times since, so we thought it was worth re-visiting here on TechCrunch Europe.

Inevitably, there’s plenty of overlap in the trends predicted, with themes such as new types of sensors, the Internet of Things, mobile commerce, social change, and augmented reality, cropping up regularly, there’s also some very unique predictions.

Here are my 5 mobile trends for the next ten years, along with the complete presentation (embedded below).

As phones get smarter, pipes get dumber

In the era of app stores and handset makers launching their own Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, mobile carriers will continue to struggle with the issue of who ‘owns’ the customer. Terrified of becoming a dumb pipe reduced to selling commodity voice and data services, some will try to innovate with their own SaaS products, most of which will fail, while the smartest players will partner and invest in innovative startups. That said, as the pipes get increasingly clogged up carrying all of this data, and with the advent of 4G, networks will start to focus on and highlight their competitiveness based on infrastructure and capacity alone.

Your phone will become your doctor

Mobile phones are already the ubiquitous mobile device and, increasingly, provide a ubiquitous Internet connection. Just like the best camera is the one that you have with you, more and more hardware functionality, such as innovative input devices and sensors, combined with software and a data connection will piggyback the mobile phone, rather than try to compete as a separate device. Health care will be a major benefactor.

Money transfer beyond mobile banking

The mobile phone will replace your wallet. Not only will you be able to manage your money via your mobile phone and use it to pay for products in authorized retail outlets both online and offline, but mobile money transfer will extend to peer-to-peer. Everyone will become a walking ‘cash’ register.

Battery technology will finally catch up

The combination of new types of battery technology and less power hungry chips will lead to mobile phones, even under the strain of all of this new hardware, software and data functionality, being able to stay powered up for more than a day. Perhaps days. Evidenced by the recent Netbook phenomenon, with 7+ hours becoming the norm for a low cost 10inch laptop.

People will share more and more personal information

Both explicit e.g. photo and video uploads or status updates, and implicit data. Location sharing via GPS (in the background) is one current example of implicit information that can be shared, but others include various sensory data captured automatically via the mobile phone e.g. weather, traffic and air quality conditions, health and fitness-related data, spending habits etc. Some of this information will be shared privately and one-to-one, some anonymously and in aggregate, and some increasingly made public or shared with a user’s wider social graph. Companies will provide incentives, both at the service level or financially, in exchange for users sharing various personal data.

Add your predictions in the comments, either for MWC next week or the next ten years.