2018 brought widespread transformation across the apps and platforms space. The rise of emerging technologies like voice, immersive reality, connected devices, and 5G will alter consumer behaviors in the year ahead. The next phase in the evolution of the smartphone will begin to take shape, and developments to two platforms — voice and VR — will create a new battleground for app makers. Mergers will continue to shake up the telecom and media landscapes, and voice will continue to push into all aspects of consumers' lives. Based on our ongoing analysis, understanding of industry trends, and conversations with industry executives, here are our top five predictions for apps and platforms in 2019:

1. The evolution of the smartphone is unfolding. Smartphones are essential to consumers’ daily lives; everyone owns one, it’s where we spend most of our digital time, and it’s the central hub of our lives. While we don’t anticipate new technology to ever fully replace the smartphone, we do expect what we know of the smartphone to evolve. Phones have changed from bricks to slide-opens, and from QWERTY keyboards to rectangular smartphones, Blackberrys, and iPhones. And we believe that foldable phones — which have tablet-sized screens but can be folded to the size and shape of a typical smartphone — will be the next step in the smartphone's evolution. These devices will come to market in 2019 from an array of smartphone vendors including Samsung, Lenovo, LG, and Huawei, and they're expected to be a hit among consumers in the year ahead:

  • Consumers are quickly taking to smartphones with larger-sized screens. Phablets — smartphones with a screen size of 5.5 inches and larger — are already the leading smartphone form factor. These devices are expected to account for two-thirds (67%) of all smartphone shipments in 2018, up from 43% a year earlier, and that share will jump to 88% of overall shipment volume by 2022. Moreover, smartphones with 6- to 7-inch screens became the most prominent smartphone segment for the first time in Q3 2018, and will continue to lead in the year ahead.
  • But there’s a limit to [...]