The Shape of 2013: Predictions for the Year Ahead

by Steve Wildstrom   |   December 19th, 2012

Crystal ball graphic
After 15 years of making predictions, with a track record that would have made you rich if you’d bet on them, I’ve been away from the practice for a couple of years. But as the regulars at Tech.pinions have agreed to end the year with a set of predictions each, I’m back at the game. My best guesses for 2013:

A Modest Rebound for BlackBerry. Like many others, I was prepared to write off BlackBerry during the last year as its market share cratered. And if Windows Phone 8 had really taken off or if Android had made a serious play for the enterprise, it would be very hard to see where there might be room in the market for Research In Motion, no matter how promising BlackBerry 10 looks. But I think there is room for at least three players in the business, and right now the competition for #3 is still wide-open. BlackBerry still enjoys a lot of residual support in the enterprise IT community, and some key federal agencies that had been planning to move away from the platform, such as Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement, have indicated they are open to a second look. The challenge Research In Motion faces is that BlackBerry 10, which will be leased on Jan. 30, needs to be appealing enough to users, not just IT managers, that it can at least slow the tide of bring-you-own devices into the enterprise.

A Windows Overhaul, Sooner Rather Than Later. Even before Windows 8 launched to distinctly mixed reviews, there were rumors about that Microsoft was moving toward a more Apple-like scheme of more frequent, less sweeping OS revisions. Microsoft sometimes has a tendency to become doctrinaire in the defense of its products; for example, it took many months for officials to accept that User Access Control in Vista was an awful mess that drove users crazy. But Microsoft has had some lessons in humility lately and the company knows that it is in a fight that will determine its relevance to personal computing over the next few years. I expect that, at a minimum, Windows 8.1 (whatever it is really called) will give users of conventional PCs the ability to boot directly into Desktop mode, less need to ever used the Metro interface, and the return of some version of the Start button. On the new UI side, for both Windows 8 and RT, look for a considerable expansion of Metrofied control panels and administrative tools, lessening the need to work in Desktop. In other words, Microsoft will move closer to what it should have done in the first place: Offer different UIs for different kinds of uses. The real prize, truly touch-ready versions of Office, though, are probably at least a year and a half away.

Success for touch notebooks. When Windows 8 was first unveiled, I was extremely dubious about the prospects for touch-enable conventional laptops. The ergonomics seemed all wrong. And certainly the few touchscreen laptops that ran Windows 7 weren’t every good. Maybe its my own experience using an iPad with a keyboard,  but the keyboard-and-touch combination no longer seems anywhere near as weird as it once did. And OEMs such as Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Acer are coming up with some very nice touch laptops, both conventional and hybrid. Even with a premium of $150 to $200 over similarly equipped non-touch models, I expect the touch products to pick up some significant market share.

Significant wireless service improvements. We’ll all grow old waiting for the government’s efforts to free more spectrum for wireless data to break fruit. The incentive auctions of underused TV spectrum are not going to be held until 2014, and it will be some time before that spectrum actually becomes available. The same is true for a new FCC plan to allow sharing of government-held spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. But the good news is we don’t have to wait. Technology will allow significant expansion of both the capacity and coverage of existing spectrum. Probably the two most important technologies are Wi-Fi offload, which will allow carrier traffic to move over hotspots set up in high-traffic areas, and femtocells and small cells, which can greatly increase the reuse of of the spectrum we already have. Unlicensed white space–unused free space between TV channels–should begin to make a contribution, especially in rural areas where TV channels are more sparse. And the huge block of mostly idle spectrum the Sprint is acquiring with its proposed purchase of Clearwire will also ease the congestion, probably starting next year. (Stay tuned for a Tech.pinions series on spectrum issues in January.)

Intel Will Make a Major ARM Play. It’s hard to believe today, but Intel was once a major player in the ARM chip business. In 1997, it bought the StrongARM business from a foundering Digital Equipment. Renamed XScale, the Intel ARM chips enjoyed considerable success with numerous design wins as early smartphone applications processors. But XScale was always tiny compared to Intel’s x86 business and in 2006, Intel sold its XScale operations to Marvell. A year later, Apple introduced the ARM-based iPhone. Today, ARM-based tablets are in the ascendancy, x86-based PCs are in decline, and Intel is struggling to convince the world that a new generation of very low power Atom systems-on-chips are competitive. Maybe the Clover Trail SOCs and their successors  will gain a significant share of the mobile market, but Intel can’t afford to wait very long to find out. With its deep engineering and manufacturing skills, Intel could become a major ARM player quickly, either through acquisition or internal development.

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.
  • capnbob67

    I think you might be misinterpreting the Blackberry situation.

    Enterprise is already done with Blackberry. BES is a kludgy, high-cost platform and most major enterprises are already trying to get rid of it and/or have implemented BYOD at lower cost. When that happens Blackberry is destroyed. In our G100 company within 1 year 90% of BBs were gone. BB10 will not arrest that since consumers will not want it so it will not be a BYOD choice. Agencies who have said they will consider BB10 are not saying that they are not going to iPhones etc. just that BB10 could be part of the mix. Even if they did reverse course, these numbers are pitifully small given what BB needs to sell of these high-end phones. Missing western holidays and releasing only 10 days before chinese new year condemns them to a slow start which will then be crushed by an iP5s and SGS4 in the spring… I just don’t see it

    • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

      The “RIM is dead” meme has been one of the greatest fabrications of the finance and tech media that I can recall. It is a situation that was literally talked and written into existence by short sellers of RIM stock and egotistical tech journalists who could not understand why anyone wouldn’t want the newest whiz-bang Android uber-phone over a Blackberry. There’s a lot of ego invested in RIM’s demise and people still aren’t willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, the Blackberry is still a relevant platform. They definitely don’t understand that the QNX platform on which BB10 is built is significantly more powerful than Android or iOS.

      When everyone tells you that your platform and brand are no longer cool, guess what … you start to believe it. RIM prospered for years in the face of anticipation by the finance and tech media that it would fold. And when the opposite happened, the doomsayers got louder and louder. It was a matter of “conventional wisdom” becoming conventional wisdom and now it seems like everyone feels smarter when they talk or write about RIM’s demise. It may happen but I think a big factor related to that is people have simply decided that it is going to happen and will accept no actions or arguments to the contrary. It’s like RIM could release the greatest platform tomorrow and people would still write it off, they are THAT invested in being right about something.

      As for Blackberry 10 and the new devices, everything I seen of them has me very excited for the platform. Blackberries are still far and away the most secure platform and BB10 has already passed the U.S. government’s most stringent standards for data security. Based on the videos I’ve seen of the OS, it is fast and intuitive and actually has some pretty compelling features that will serve both consumers and the enterprise very well. QNX has cut its teeth in some of the most demanding environments and it is easily as robust as iOS, if not far more so, and is light years ahead of Android. I personally think the new L-series phone is as visually appealing as anything on the market though that is more a matter of preference.

      Blackberry diehards are really amped up about the new platform and it has even gained grudging respect in the tech community. If it performs as advertised, RIM could definitely make a comeback, especially in light of the tepid reception of Windows Phone 8. So far, all signs are that RIM is executing correctly. Maybe conventional wisdom won’t be so conventional after Jan. 30. 2013.

      • Rich

        So how did *you* get so much ego invested in RIM?

        • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

          I just try to understand that, when it comes to how people interact with technology, there’s a lot of space between the power user and the novice. It’s perfectly reasonable that Blackberries filled a niche for people who wanted a certain class of functionality but not the overhead of a sophisticated technology like iOS or Android. But the media’s constant braying of “RIM is dead!”, even when its financials showed otherwise FOR YEARS, motivated people to abandon a platform for no reason other than the fact that “experts” thought it wasn’t cool enough.

          I’m a fan of competition and people having choices that truly suit their level of expertise. iOS, Android and Windows Phone are simply overkill for many people. The Blackberry, for many, was “just enough” technology.

          • Rich

            The media’s assertion that RIM is dead was driven by seriously declining sales of the Blackberry at the same time that iPhone, iPad, and Android-based sales were very strong, which in the mobile world often portends the disappearance of a company. I’m not convinced yet that RIM will ever be more than a distant #3…not dead but a definitely minor player in the market.

            People abandoned the Blackberry because the device itself was not competitive during the period you’re referring to.

          • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

            There was a lot of conflation between losing marketshare and RIM “dying.” The truth was that RIM’s user base was growing substantially and it was very profitable. It was the equivalent of stating that a baseball team lost the game because the other team scored three runs in the first inning.

            When you state that “the device itself was not competitive,” with what are you comparing? Subscriber base was growing and profits were healthy. Indeed, market share was in a gradually state of decline until a sudden cratering which coincided with an almost relentless effort of the U.S. tech and finance media to declare RIM “dead” despite healthy financials and a growing user base. I’ll concede that RIM was definitely a company in decline in relation to market share but not in other important metrics. Indeed, RIM was still growing as of its last financial report.

            Bottom line, there was and has been enough demand that RIM has continuously added to its user base.

          • jfutral

            So you are saying RIM is the new Apple, circa late 90′s-early 00s?

            Joe

      • FalKirk

        “The “RIM is dead” meme has been one of the greatest fabrications of the finance and tech media that I can recall.” – James King

        James, I have a great deal of respect for your opinion. But I must admit that I am one of those who see little future for Blackberry.

        Blackberry has tremendous user loyalty. But RIM is so very far behind in entering the mobile industry fray. For Blackberry to even remain a player, they will have to pull developers from iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

        • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

          Thanks John, the feeling is mutual.

          There are valid reasons to question RIM’s viability right now, I just think its downfall was helped along by a good deal of sensationalism, particularly in the North American media. I used to joke that Blackberry users were on the “blunt edge of technology” but such niches are valuable in maintaining a competitive landscape that ultimately benefits consumers in the way of better products at better prices. There seemed to be a school of thought that, because Blackberries weren’t as advanced as Apple or Android devices, they were “bad.” However, RIM was and is filling a valuable spot in the technology food chain. 80 million people can’t all be Luddites or philistines. Some people may actually LIKE the Blackberry experience.

          • FalKirk

            “I just think its downfall was helped along by a good deal of sensationalism, particularly in the North American media…” – James King

            Sometimes perception is more important than reality. Once a product or company is viewed as “doomed” it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            But the more important point, in my opinion, is developers. Do they see a pressing need to develop programs for RIM? They are less likely to be persuaded by the press and more likely to be persuaded by their own economic self-interest. Do you see any way that RIM can effectively compete for developers?

          • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

            Obviously a “chicken and egg” scenario. I’m encouraged by the fact that RIM has made a quantum leap in development tools and it is supposedly not very resource-intensive to port Android apps to BB10. RIM is making developing for BB10 as frictionless as possible. It remains to be seen if it will work but there is a lot positive coming out of RIM’s developer events.

          • steve_wildstrom

            RIM had two big and mostly disjoint problems.

            It made a big and initially successful push into consumer markets. But it started losing higher end consumers who defected to the iPhone and Android and the attractions of their apps, which BlackBerry couldn’t match. BB remains very popular in markets where BBM is the main attractions, but this shift has led to sharp drops in average selling price and margins.

            In the enterprise, BlackBerry Enterprise Server was the main attraction, but the dominance of BES was undermined by executives who were frustrated by the limitations of the BlackBerrys and demanded enterprise support for the iPhones and other devices they were bringing in. It took RIM way too long to recognize the real threat: BES was an expensive point solution that only worked with BlackBerry hardware and the increasing demand on enterprise IT departments to support alternatives severely undercut BES’s value proposition.

            Can BB10 reverse either of these problems? I don’t know. I hope and think it has a shot, but it’s a narrow path with little margin for error. The one big question I have is about the engineering talent at RIM. At one point, it was the best in the industry, especially in RF technology and power management. I don’t know how badly this has been damaged in the last couple of years. RIM is going to need all the talent it can get.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000160977235 Michael Schmitt

            I guess I’m not sure where you get all your facts? If you compare the “Engineering” talent from QNX (RIM’s New OS) Compared to NextStep you’ll see there is no comparison as QNX is a very mature OS in embedded devices such as Cars, Medical Equipment, Casino Machines, High Speed trains, etc… As far as RF Technology and Engineering, RIM also bought Paratek Microwave which has State of the Art RF Tuning Technology and Advanced Power Management.

            What really gets my nerve is that how, everyone and even you guys fail to see how horrible Apple’s Engineering is… Apple has failed at Siri, Maps, design flaws that make it scratch more easily, Not to forget “Antennagate” and they have had more outages this ear since RIM has been up and running. Apparently I’m the only one to see that it’s a very biased world, not even you do all your research and seem Apple will go on floating as if nobody can touch it. It’ll catch up to Apple soon, trust me!

          • steve_wildstrom

            When you have the sort of problems RIM has had and go through multiple rounds of layoffs, it can become extremely difficult to hang on to top talent, especially folks in fields like RF engineering, where the demand exceeds the supply. I’m just wondering how many of RIM’s engineers have left for greener pastures in the last 18 months or two years.

          • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

            That’s a good question, one upon which RIM’s success definitely hinges.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000160977235 Michael Schmitt

            The Layoffs focus on the shedding of the old skin/platform. They aren’t letting anybody significant go especially when their business is now more than Smartphones, and Tablets.

          • steve_wildstrom

            I worked for an organization that went through rounds of layoffs and what happens is the atmosphere becomes toxic and you start losing the very people you really want to keep. It happens, and there’s not much to be done about it.

            I was writing about RIM, not Apple, which I why I didin’t deal with the Apple issues. Of the points you raise, only the antenna and the 6.0.2 problems can really be considered engineering issues. Antennagate was almost entirely phony. The 6.0.2 problems seem to be real, but I expect they’ll be fixed by a software push within days. Apple and RIM have both had network outages; generally, they have both had uptime within 99.9% availability. RIMs services are generally far more critical than iCloud and, for large enterprises, are covered by formal service level agreements.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000160977235 Michael Schmitt

            Well, the conference call has been in and it’s apparent that RIM has got enough money to stay in the game, so that’s settled.

            To the point dealing with the outages and such, RIM was doing fine in the game until outages struck and gave Apple the upperhand which came the downside. Apple is now dealing with a rundown OS which RIM was stuck in before QNX, and now experiencing outages and poor battery performance by the severe lack of good engineering and Analysts expect Apple to miss expectations which then gives RIM a portal in the door for BlackBerry 10. I bring Apple up for the mere fact that without RIM, there would be no Apple, and Vice Versa. Goes hand in hand and shows the cycles of Technology for the open minded, and not blinded by the cult of Apple. You should try it more instead of debated whether or not the world will end based on useless media articles who are too blinded by the Kool-Aid. Before you say, “Who is this guy? He’s saying there would be no Apple?” Apple was worth $87 when they introduced the iPhone in 2007, They weren’t anybody until mobile, and the mere fact that RIM owns 61% of Cars with QNX and that by 2020 or maybe sooner in the Mobile Industry for Cars will be well worth over $200 Billion means sooner or later, all of RIM’s R&D will pay a Jackpot. I’d like to stay and chit chat more, but I’ve got more investing to do in RIMM.

          • Rich

            Okay Michael Schmitt, you’ve stated your opinions, now I’ll state mine. If you’re going to make statements about Apple, you’d do well to delete your amazing misconceptions about that company and those who admire it. And if you’re saying you’re open minded, I don’t think so.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000160977235 Michael Schmitt

            First of all, who are you to call me biased?

            Second of all, I point out facts over facts. Funny you can’t point out any. Apple doesn’t have a Robust Micro-Kernel Architecture to run things like Cars, Casino Machines, Medical Equipment, etc… Let me ask you a question, how many certifications does IOS have? You can head on over to QNX.com just to see how many certifications they have. Would you see a Dr. that doesn’t have degrees? Then why use a device that doesn’t have high level certifications?

            The way I see it is that everybody here is wanting RIM to fail so that Apple can buy them, and its IP that RIM has suddenly becomes Apple’s Savior cause they can’t stay afloat on there own. I look at the facts of each and every company and draw a conclusion for each. It’s not about being biased, it’s if everyone wants to point fingers at one company’s problems, you might as well layout its competitors too to be fair. You may go back into your hole now, Thank you.

          • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

            While I think Apple’s hardware design is peerless, I have to agree that its software engineering is the weak link. Apple still has a lead in UI/UX but even developments in those traditional areas of strength seem to be waning. I hope Ive re-energizes Apple’s efforts to really innovate in those areas because there is only so much you can do with hardware before it becomes mostly iterative improvement.

            I’d go so far as to say Microsoft has much better software engineering talent than Apple but, if it has specialists in UI or UX, they all work for the Entertainment and Devices division. When Microsoft stops letting its engineers design user interfaces, it makes some pretty interesting stuff, like the XBox 360 and Windows Phone.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000160977235 Michael Schmitt

            As far as Ive goes, let’s just say the whole minimalist approach isn’t gonna fly… He’s the reason Apple will be last instead of first to NFC. True dealing with Microsoft can create some pretty compelling things. However, Microsoft doesn’t spend time with Developers and support them will RIM is before the launch of their devices. RIM will have more traction at launch.

      • mhikl

        Well written discussion, James. I have empathy for underdogs and dethroned kings. Choice in our lives is what is important and RIM in the mix certainly enhances the realm of mobile. I for one shall watch with interest this phoenix tread this sphere.

    • steve_wildstrom

      My perspective may be distorted because I live in Washington, but I still see an awful lot of people carrying BlackBerrys. Note that I wasn’t predicting that BlackBerry was going to return to its former glory, just that it might be able to hang on as #3.

  • Rich

    My predictions for 2013 is that Windows Phone 8 and the Surface will not sell very well. For Windows 8, I thought the OS as released was simply the wrong product for desktop and notebook computers and therefore would show poor sales. If Windows 8 is modified as Steve Wildstrom predicts, to me it’s uncertain whether that will improve its chances. It has a lot of negatives to overcome.

    • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

      Agreed. I think the way Nokia and Microsoft have handled the transition to Windows Phone and how they’ve introduced it into the market has created a lot of bad blood. The “Burning Platform” memo, the mass layoffs, the premature killing of Symbian and Meego just made Microsoft look like it was rigging the game. Not to mention the fact that the average consumer doesn’t necessarily have a strong brand relationship with Microsoft to begin with because the legacy of Windows usability. Ironically, I think if Nokia had simply released Windows Phone devices alongside its other platforms, WP would have proven itself as superior over time and grown organically. But Microsoft’s ham-fisted tactics to buy marketshare have likely consigned the platform to the outer edges of the mobile space for a long time, if not for good. Microsoft will keep plugging along as long as it has money though and sheer attrition will probably ensure that WP eventually catches on in a significant way.

      As for Surface … just too flawed.

      • Brad Mello

        I’m a college student that has been anxiously waiting for the introduction of a laptop replacement. I’m sick and tired of all these media based tablets. I don’t want a tablet for entertainment, I want it for productivity.

        I live through my onenote notebooks, once students realize the productivity advancements made by hybrid ultrabooks as a laptop replacement, I feel like they will flood the market. I will be getting an xps 12 as soon as possible and even if the “Surface” does not do well, windows 8 and associated technologies will. Isn’t microsoft’s bread and butter their operating systems and software? I’ve been using the office 2013 preview and skydrive to increase my productivity. Just wait until I can take digitized notes through onenote or directly on an eBook pdf. Just wait. I can see students jumping ship from Macbooks for windows 8 hybrids simply for that reason.

        I am also a proud owner of an iPhone 5. It works wonderfully for everything I want in terms of media, socialization, “gaming” blah blah blah and even has a OneNote app that syncs with my notebooks. The market is going to get competitive for hybrids and students will be hailing Windows 8 AND Hybrid Laptops separately as well. The crucial point here is that I am sick of having two devices.

        Some further reading: http://www.examiner.com/article/microsoft-surface-pro-tablet-the-first-to-address-unique-student-needs?cid=db_articles

        • Brad Mello

          Please excuse me, in the last sentence of the third paragraph when I say “I am sick of having two devices”, I am referring to a laptop and tablet. NOT a laptop and a phone.

    • def4

      That’s not a prediction, that’s a fact.

  • FalKirk

    “Success for touch notebooks”

    Agreed. Dismissed touch screens due to the “Gorilla Arm” effect. Vertical screens just aren’t comfortable to use on a continuous basis. But two things have occurred to change my views on the subject.

    First, the iPhone, the iPad and all subsequent touch devices have trained us to touch computer screens. We now think it’s weird when we touch the screen and nothing happens. We are becoming habitual screen touchers. That trend is only going to get stronger as tablets become ever more a part of our computing life.

    Second, I still think that touch as the primary input for vertical screens is ergonomically infeasible. But that’s not how we use touch. We use it sporadically and for just a few specific tasks. We will continue to use our keyboards and our trackpads as the primary inputs on our notebook and desktop devices. But touching an occasional button here and there will simply simplify and supplement our user inputs.

    Microsoft has already gone full bore into touch notebooks. I think that Apple will join them in a year or two when the cost of implementing touch tablets comes down just a bit more.

    • rj

      I have a hard time imagining a touch screen Mac. Nothing in OS X lends itself to a touch screen. The targets are too small, the interactions are designed with keyboard and pointer in mind, and moving one’s hands between trackpad/mouse, keyboard, and screen seems horribly inefficient and uncomfortable.

      Apple has had touch on the Mac in the form of trackpad gestures for years, and I think they will probably stick with that. I suppose its possible that the rumoured “touch screen” trackpad might eventually appear, but it seems impossible that Jony Ive would give his blessing to something as inelegant and un-Apple as a Win 8-style hybrid.

      • FalKirk

        Apple’s current philosophy argues strongly against a touch screen Mac. I think two things will have to happen before Apple moves in that direction. First, touch screens will have to become cheaper. Second, OS X will have to become much touch-friendlier.

        OS X is already moving towards a symbiotic relationship with iOS. Apple is the victim of its own success. It has trained us to touch the screen. I think that habitual “touch” action will eventually compel Apple to make OS X touch friendlier.

        • steve_wildstrom

          I think the cost of touch screens–about a $150 to $200 premium at retail–is less of an issue for Apple than for Windows OEMs. Apple customers are used to paying premium prices and Apple could eat some margin if it had to.

          Changing the OS to support touch is much harder, as Microsoft has shown.

          • rj

            I agree. Apple already puts a pretty great retina touch screen in a $500 iPad. I don’t think the incremental cost of adding touch to the MacBook Air and especially MacBook Pro screens is what’s holding them back.

            Mac OS X is fundamentally designed to be operated with a mouse (or trackpad). All of the UI elements – menus, windows, the dock, etc are designed around a single pointing device that has the resolution of a mouse pointer, not a finger. Making it touch-friendly would require a complete rethink of the interaction model – which is essentially what they already did with iOS on the iPad.

            There may be a market for hybrid devices, but my guess is that it will be fairly small and Apple will be fine with letting Microsoft have it.

            I suppose one other possibility is that they start to “scale up” iOS, perhaps by adding a keyboard to the smart cover. A product like that might qualify as a “notebook”.

          • jfutral

            I’m not saying i disagree with you, I’ve just never given much credence to the “gorilla arm” effect. We do a number of things at arms length on a daily basis, some people even for a living (painters, both artists and architectural, anyone?). All that has to change is our orientation, which is not that big a deal, just a matter of what we are used to. Change is always hard.

            Although it might initially be a separate, hybrid market, would it always stay as such? Why would it not just be the next logical step?

            Joe

          • rj

            I think there is a difference between painting and repeatedly moving your hands between a keyboard/mouse and a nearly perpendicular screen. My guess is that would become quite uncomfortable.

            The bigger problem though is that a mouse pointer and fingertip are very different, and I don’t think its possible to design something that works well for both. OS X (and traditional windows) are designed for the size and accuracy of a mouse pointer. A fingertip is at least an order of magnitude less precise in each direction, and thus too big to accurately activate a drop down menu, close a window, etc. Further, the mouse has other capabilities for which the fingertip has no analog, like hovering the pointer and right clicking. Simply having both a mouse pointer and touch on the same device seems like a source of user confusion.

            In order to make OS X touch-friendly, you would have to massively rework it (including all its applications), and I don’t think the result would make anyone happy – both the simplicity of iOS and the speed/accuracy/information density of OS X would be lost.

            If Apple decides that they need a “hybrid” device, I think they will do it by selectively adding desktop features to the iPad, rather than trying to glue a touch UI onto OS X.

          • jfutral

            “I think there is a difference between painting and repeatedly moving your hands between a keyboard/mouse and a nearly perpendicular screen. My guess is that would become quite uncomfortable.”

            Try painting for a while then, as an experiment. Talk about repetitive movements. Probably why Pollock moved to drip techniques!

            I don’t know how repeatedly that would occur, however. In your configuration there are three input methods employed. I think to assume the gestures would account for 1/3 each may be a bit much. But it is all guesses at this moment unless someone knows of any research being done. I remember almost the exact criticism being leveled at the mouse when it first hit popularity with Apple. Even now sometimes I dread moving to the mouse from the keyboard!

            When dealing with large draftings on a large screen, I am not all that accurate with a mouse either, even when I use the keyboard to constrain the mouse movements. Forget the magic mouse. It is better than other mice to me, but I hate it when the curser drifts when I first grab it or, frustratingly when I am already holding it and try to press it in a menu command and it slips to a higher command in the menu.

            The only thing making it difficult is we keep thinking of it in terms of what is already accomplishable with the technology that is already employed. This is definitely going to take some rethinking, but I have to believe it can’t be that hard. It just needs creative thinking. We already have gesture based input without touching the screen.

            I don’t think we are as far away from all this as some seem to think.

            Joe

    • mhikl

      My iPad and iPt do not mar when I touch them. A plastic computer screen does. A notebook is closer at hand and more likely to draw to touch. DT screens, not so much. With time and use, the urge to touch may likely pass.

    • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

      Agreed. The ergonomics of touch aren’t particularly well suited for desktops but I think they definitely translate acceptably to laptops. Touch will definitely be more of a secondary interface element on those machines. Bottom line, it’s about efficiency. When the target is large enough and the distance close enough, fingers become much more efficient than trackpads or mice for navigation-style input.

  • FalKirk

    “Microsoft sometimes has a tendency to become doctrinaire in the defense of its products…(b)ut Microsoft has had some lessons in humility lately…”

    I’m going to disagree with your prediction that Microsoft will rapidly alter Windows 8 in the manner which you’ve described. Not that I know anything at all, mind you. But my gut tells me that Microsoft will follow its tendency to defend its product first, and will bend only later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001035136448 Sihan Zheng

    I would actually say that x86 is going to challenge arm in low power applications.

    Why? Since currently, intel is VERY competitive against ARM in phones already. The Razr I performs just as well, and has just as long battery life as the Razr M. And current generation Atoms are built on the 32nm process, worse than the 28nm process that the Snapdragon s4 was built on.
    When intel does the die shrink to 22nm for their atoms, I think they can succeed.

    • http://twitter.com/M_Gauche James King

      Yeah, I’ve been reading that the new mobile Atom chips are approaching the power efficiency of ARM while still crushing them in performance, though the Exynos 5 ARM SoC is trending in the opposite direction. This is a good bet IMO.

  • jillkennedy

    One thing I know for sure – 2013 will be endgame for the old media moguls. Silicon Valley victory over Hollywood will be complete.

    http://mankabros.com/blogs/onmedea/2012/12/18/2013-endgame-for-moguls/

    • Rich

      I have no idea what you’re saying. Please explain.