Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. ~ Niels Bohr, Danish physicist (1885 – 1962)
Trend #1: Two Seperate And Incompatible Types Of User Interfaces
Personal computing will be divided into two types of user interfaces:
1) Touch; and
2) Pixel-specific (surface-required)
Touch will require the use of only a finger for user input and will work best on the go. Pixel-specific will require the use of a mouse or trackpad which, in turn, will require the use of a flat surface. These two user inputs are inherently incompatible with one another – and that has consequences.
Prediction #1: There Is Little Room For A Category Between The Tablet And The Notebook
I do not think that there is room between the touch-only tablet and the mouse/trackpad-only notebook for the new category of computer that Microsoft is trying to create with Windows 8 tablets. Tablets are becoming more capable. Notebooks are becoming ever thinner and lighter. There is little room for the hybrid. Hybrids will survive as a niche – but they will not thrive as a category.
Many disagree with this opinion, including some who write for Tech.Pinions and everyone who works for Microsoft. That’s the beauty of free speech and free markets. Time – and sales numbers – will tell the tale.
Prediction #2: Tablets Are Going To Be Even Bigger Than We Thought
Tablets are the future and in a much bigger way than even I had imagined.
They are not just becoming an equal to the pixel-input, surface-only devices, they will soon be the default, go-to device of choice. We’ll use our tablets whenever we can, our phones whenever we’re traveling and our surface bound devices only when we absolutely have to.
Pixel input personal computing devices will become like land line phones. They will persevere but with an ever shrinking base and and ever decreasing significance to our lives.
Prediction #3: Apple Will Create A New iPad Mini In The Spring
This is really a sub-set of prediction number two, above.
I believe that tablets are going to be huge in education. Last year, many school districts tested the waters with tablets. This year, many are going to move from trial programs to initiating programs designed to eventually put a tablet in the hands of every single student. This is a profound computing shift which will have a profound effect on education. By 2014 and beyond, the flood gates will have opened and tablets in schools and colleges will be accepted as the new norm.
Apple knows that they currently have an in with the education market. Educational institutions make most of their buying decisions in the Spring. In my opinion, Apple is not going to let the Spring go by without refreshing the iPad Mini.
Trend #2: Two Phone Operating Systems
In the Ninties, there were only two personal computer operating systems that mattered – Windows and whatever Apple was running on the Mac. Windows dominated, but the Mac survived and, in terms of profits, thrived.
Simiarly, there are going to be two operating systems that matter to smartphones. But this will be a duopoly with a difference. Google is not a strong and domineering operating system shepard the way Microsoft was. iOS has 500 million users and is self-sustaining. This time, iOS will be the premium operating system while Android will be the majority operating system.
Prediction #4: iOS will become the premium model, Android will take the rest
iOS will appeal most to businesses, government and education. (The irony of predicting Apple as the preferred operating system for business is not lost on me.) Android will take the rest.
Both operating systems will unhappily co-exist with developers flocking to iOS and cost-concious buyers flocking to Android. The dollars will continue to flow to Apple and the market share will continute to flow to Android and both sides will continue to insist that the other side doomed.
In the meantime, RIM and Nokia will continue to fade and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 will stubbornly cling to third place. But a licensed operating system does not fare well as a minority player.
Trend #3: Freemium v. Premium
The chief divide between tablets will not be their size, but their business models. Amazon and Google follow the freemium model. Samsung and Apple follow the premium model. The Freemium’s give away their hardware at or near cost and seek to make money on the sale of content and services. Apple’s premium model seeks to sell their hardware at a profit and encourage those sales through the use of both content and services.
Prediction #5: Samsung Will Be Forced To Create Their Own Ecosystem
In a world where your operating system provider (Google) is undercutting you by selling hardware at cost and taking in all the content and service dollars, there is simply no other choice — Samsung needs to create their own content and services ecosystem. Samsung has been preparing for this moment for quite some time. And we’ll see the fruits of their labor in 2013.
Trend #4: Multiple Screens
I think the biggest trend that is receiving the least attention is that of multiple screens. In 2001, we had one computer screen and it sat on our desktop. In 2006, we had, at best, two computer screens – our desktop and our notebook. In 2013, we have 4 computer screens – our phones, tablets, notebooks/desktops and TVs. And the when and why we use those screens is going to help to shape the future of computing.
I’m going to cop out here and not make any predictions other than to predict that this trend is going to change everything. People are already using two screens – a television and a phone or tablet – to watch TV. And the way we rapidly switch from phone to tablet to notebook and back again is already baffling that way pundits think about categorizing and pigeonholing our computing buying and using habits. Multiple screens deserve not just a simple prediction on our part but ongoing examination and analysis. It is not an emerging trend but an existing trend. It is the consequences that we haven’t yet fully fathomed. Expect to see us talk a lot more about the effects of multiple screen computing in 2013 and beyond.