Grading My Predictions For 2013


Time to fess up and see how badly I did in last year’s predictions. You can find them all here.

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. 
It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. 
It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. ~ Winston Churchill

Prediction #1: There Is Little Room For A Category Between The Tablet And The Notebook.

This is still in dispute. Many still feel that a hybrid category between the tablet and the notebook will eventually emerge.

Not me. And it surely didn’t happen in 2013, so I’m chalking this one up as “correct”.

Here’s the thing: The touch user input (finger) is wholly incompatible with pixel specific forms of user input (mouse and stylus). And putting both side-by-side on a single device is not the solution, it’s the problem.

Why (my wife) hates Windows 8? In her words, “It doesn’t do what I’m telling it to do!” ~ Brad Reed (@bwreedbgr)

It’s anecdotal, but that’s about as damning a criticism as a product can receive.

In 1995, Cynthia Heimel wrote a book entitled: “If you leave me, can I come too?” I think that’s today’s de facto motto for Microsoft. Microsoft wants to have it both ways – sell you an all-in-one notebook AND tablet — and consumers are having none of it.

Prediction #2: Tablets Are Going To Be Even Bigger Than We Thought.

Worldwide the number of smartphones will surpass the number of PCs in the next 6 months. ~ Benedict Evans

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 17.51.51

Nailed it. 2 for 2.

Tablets were the biggest story in 2013. And they may well be the biggest story in 2014, too.

Prediction #3: Apple Will Create A New iPad Mini In The Spring.

Wrong, wrong wrong. I thought that Apple would target the tablet for the education market. But Apple has opted, instead, to move almost ALL product launches — iPod, iPhone, iPad – and maybe even Macs — to the holiday quarter.

2 for 3.

Prediction #4: iOS will become the premium model, Android will take the rest.

Sounds about right to me.

There a persistent misunderstanding of the Apple business model.

…Apple simply doesn’t care about market share. As a properly capitalist company it cares about the profits…

Apple has repeatedly said that it’s not interested in being a top Chinese or anywhere else smartphone player. It’s interested in being a top player at the top end of the smartphone market which is an entirely different thing. ~ Tim Worstall

No one seriously argues that Burberry should be more like Walmart ((Analogy borrowed from Brian S. Hall.)). Why ever does anyone think that Apple should be more like Samsung?

That makes me 3 for 4.

Prediction #5: Samsung Will Be Forced To Create Their Own Ecosystem.

Hmm. Lots and lots of talk about such a thing happening but almost zero action. Got that one definitely wrong.

Final score: 3 for 5.


I don’t really have much faith in my predictions anyway. I don’t pretend that I’m a seer who can peek into a future that no one else can see. As I often say, I prefer to predict the past — it’s safer. Easier too.

I more or less see my role as trying show people that the future they’re resisting is already here today — that the things that they are denying have already happened.

To most men, experience is like the stern lights of a ship,
 which illumine only the track it has passed. ~ Samuel Coleridge

Here’s a couple examples for 2014.

A) Microsoft is in more trouble than people seem to realize. Microsoft is making lots of money — which is good — but consumers are about to fire Microsoft from its current job and Microsoft doesn’t have any obvious prospects for obtaining future income — which is bad, bad, bad.

B) Phones and tablets are a thing. Notebooks and Desktops are a niche. Still getting lots of resistance to this fait accompli, and that resistance is warping the analysis of many.

C) Android is not the Windows of the 1990’s. Apple is not the Apple of the 1990’s. If you can’t see that today’s marketplace is entirely different from the computing marketplace of the 1990s, it’s because you refuse to see what is right before your eyes. The evidence is all around you.

There’s more, of course, but this isn’t a prediction article, it’s a mea culpa article. I was extremely conservative in my predictions and I still got 2 of 5 wrong. C’est la vie.

Happy New Year to all…and one last prediction:

I predict it will be an unpredictable year.

Technology Predictions for 2013 – The Year of Going Vertical

The theme for my 2013 predictions is going vertical. The writing on the wall has been seen for some time now and I believe 2013 is the year we will see it officially come to fruition. There is absolutely no denying the success of Apple’s vertical model. In a mature consumer market, being vertical is simply the most sustainable model–if executed properly– by way of differentiation, competitive advantage, and a host of other long term strategic reasons. Many parallel industries and the vertical nature of the businesses in them point the way for this reality.

1. Samsung Invests in Its Own Future
Right now Samsung is the most dominant Android smartphone manufacturer. However, they do not fully control or dictate the directions of agenda of Google as it relates to Android. Because of this Samsung is dependent, to a degree, on Google for their future success. In a quickly verticalizing industry, this is a point of concern for Samsung. Samsung once invested in their BADA OS, but I believe they will further invest in owning their own software platform in order to fully unify their screen strategy. The most logical candidate is the Tizen OS they have been working on but are yet to release.

2. Microsoft Gets Into Smartphone Hardware
Microsoft signaled their intent to be a PC hardware company when they launched the Surface. By doing so they strained relationships with their partners and went down a path which is hard to turn back from at this point. The next logical step is for them to get into the smartphone hardware business, or acquire someone like Nokia or HTC, and begin controlling the hardware for Windows Phone. I believe Microsoft will officially get in the smartphone hardware game in 2013.

3. Apple Makes Large Investment in Its Supply Chain
Apple is more vertical than any company right now in the personal computing landscape. Other companies have some of the parts, but are yet to fully go vertical and show that they can execute as a vertical company. Apple has already proven it is a well oiled vertical machine and I believe they will further invest in that by using their massive stockpile of cash to invest in owning key parts of their supply chain. The key reason for this is to maintain their margins around hardware but also to relieve many of the supply chain bottlenecks that they deal with on a yearly basis. These investments could be in owning a key display manufacturer, hardware machining factories, and even investing or co-investing in a foundry to manufacture their own semiconductors for all their computers.

4. Google Goes Fully Vertical with Motorola
Because Samsung is Google’s largest partner, and in many of the same ways Samsung depends on Google, so does Google depend on Samsung. The reality is that Android would not have the market share it does today without Samsung. So by Samsung investing more in its own future with a software platform, Android will be weakened. The only logical response is for Google to also officially go vertical with Motorola and take their hardware future into their own hands. They can do this by focusing Motorola on the high end with a Nexus like strategy or they can focus on the lower end and go for more volume than margins. I can see either scenario playing out.

5. RIM is Acquired
To be entirely honest I have some hope for RIM. I do think they will make a modest rebound in 2013 with the release of BB10 devices. But to fully take a significant share of the handheld market they will need help from someone else. It makes the most sense in my mind for RIM to consolidate with someone who has the marketing and the hardware vision. Perhaps Samsung would acquire RIM and make BB10 its proprietary OS if Tizen doesn’t work out or any other number of the growing Asian OEMs who could use a better business platform and a better and unified localized OS for China.

Some Anti-Predictions

Here are a few things others believe may happen in 2013 that I don’t see happening, call them my anti-predictions.

1. Amazon Does Not Make a Phone
We have all heard the rumors and some tech blogs have even proclaimed an Amazon phone as a fact. I personally still find this move hard to swallow. The business around mobile phones is an entirely different beast and one that operates uniquely amidst other personal computing segments. Given Amazon’s business as a retailer, I have a hard time finding the value in extending that model to a segment where actually purchasing is still done at a minimum if at all by most of the mass market.

For me to believe Amazon has a shot with success in the very difficult economics of mobile phones, I would need to be convinced of the business value for them to do so. Something that I have not heard a sound argument for yet. At this point, however, I don’t see it happening.

2. Apple Does Not Release a TV Set
It seems as though the hottest rumor that keeps surfacing is Apple and the apparent holy grail of an Apple TV set. I’ve argued before that I don’t see Apple designing and shipping a large piece of glass as Apple TV. I remain convinced the set top box strategy is the most dynamic, sustainable, annually innovative, and logical approach. A set-top box can be refreshed in a more regular fashion and there is nothing you can’t do with a set-top box that you can do by integrating technology into the TV set. Given the way technology is advancing for next generation TV display technology, it is becoming to clear to many who know and understand the industry that glass is glass and it will contain some smarts but the best approach is to put innovation into the box that sits next to or is somehow connected to the TV. Apple will continue down their current path with Apple TV and will make strides toward moving it from a hobby to a business but it will not be by releasing a large piece of glass.

I have mapped out a number of scenarios for 2013. I’ve shared a few with you here but my full industry outlook includes many more including some related to the economy which I will turn into some columns here soon. 2012 has been an incredible year for Tech.pinions and its because of our amazing reader and commenter community that our site has become a recognized source of technology industry insight and perspective. We appreciate you all greatly and we will continue to serve you with many new features and exclusive content in 2013. Happy New Year to you all and may you have a prosperous 2013.

My Tech Industry Predictions for 2013

Each year, about this time, I put out a list of predictions for the coming year. I have been doing this for 23 years and over that time have I have had a reasonable level of success with these predictions. I have had some spectacular failed predictions too, like the year I said Microsoft would buy RIM. Because of our work and research, we get to see a lot of technologies in the works behind the scene as well as look at the data and numbers and make some educated deductions about the tech trends for the new year.

With that in mind, here are my top predictions for 2013.

1: Augmented Reality will go mainstream in 2013

Companies like Zappar and Arusmus have some great technology that adds an AR touch to published content, posters, and physical places. AR technology has been in the works for many years, but the demos I have seen from these two companies have me believing that 2013 is the year that AR becomes very important to the mobile world. More importantly, many of these AR companies have created great relationships with movie studies, game makers, publishers, and more, and their technology is already showing up in many of their products. I wrote about these two companies recently (,2817,2412990,00.asp) so check out some of the examples I have at the end of this column to get a visual sense of why I think AR will be big in 2013.

2: US Power Grid hit by Hackers

Call me paranoid but the more I read about security hacking from China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, the more I am concerned about the safety of our various networks. While IT networks of all types remain a main target, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned recently that successful attacks have been made on computer control systems of American electricity and water plants and transportation systems. Security experts point out that many of these water and electricity plants have old architecture that is not tied to networks but many of them do and could be a target. Those impacted by Superstorm Sandy already know how the lack of power and electricity could impact their lives. So imagine if a power grid is taken down in large metropolitan areas and the impact it would have on individuals and businesses. I applaud our security experts on their diligence in combating all security threats and really hope that if our power grid does come under attack, they can head it off. By the way, this is one prediction that I hope I am very wrong about.

3: Google’s ChromeBook gets more consumer attention-Chrome laptops will gain traction in 2013

Acer and Samsung’s Chromebooks are priced around $250 and has become an attractive alternative for consumers as price continues to be a real issue with this market segment. I know that this only works when it is connected but the proliferation of public WiFi makes this less of an issue going forward. We all know that an HTML Web browser as an OS will someday happen and the Chromebooks are a good first step. Buyers of these laptops will also serve as an important testbed for us industry watchers in 2013 and could give us important hints about how this market will develop over the next five years.

4: Hybrids and convertibles get high interest in IT

In our discussions with IT directors recently we have heard that they are quite interested in hybrids or convertibles aka laptop and tablet combo devices. Today, with tablets part of the BYOD trend, as well as their own purchases of tablets for specific internal use, these IT managers are now forced to support three devices-PC, Tablet and Smartphone. The idea of just having to support a convertible or hybrid, instead of a separate laptop and tablet, is quite attractive to them. The first generation of these products, such as Lenovo’s Yoga, HP’s Elitebook convertible and Dell’s XPS DUO are being bought in good numbers from IT types who are starting to test them inside their organizations and newer models that are even more powerful will be out by Q3. All this points to potential growth of hybrids and convertibles within IT beginning in 2013.

5: Mobile Malware will be up 100% on consumer devices

For decades, the PC was the only real target for malware, security breaches, and targeted attacks. But with mobile devices soon surpassing the amount of PCs shipped each year, these devices have become major targets for all types of malware. In fact, we believe mobile devices will become the biggest target for hacking by the end of the 2013 because all of these devices are tied much more closely to personal identities and personal information then PC’s.

6: Intel Becomes a top 3 Foundry

There have been various reports from Asia suggesting that Intel’s current fabs are not operating at full capacity due to reduced demands for computer chips in 2012. Although there are others from the semiconductor world who feel demand for chips will increase next year, they believe the biggest benefactor of this growth will be foundries that produce chips made by ARM. If it is true that Intel’s fabs are under utilized, it would not surprise me if they move to extend their fabs to the likes of Apple and others who wish to leave Samsung and may be concerned that TSMC cannot keep up with their needs in the future.

7: e-Book sales over take the amount of physical books sold in retail

The move to eBooks is in full swing. One key reason is that tablets have become the #1 eBook reader and we will sell close to 230 million tablets in 2013. Amazon’s Kindle Reader app is on just about every tablet available, this there is no lack of digital e-books readers already in the market with more coming in the future. The ease of purchasing and keeping libraries up to date on all of your digital devices is the big draw. Plus the fact that about 1000 books can fit on and average reader. This is why you can see e-Books becoming the largest growth area in book distribution next year.

8: 7″ tablets dominate tablet sales

Given the price of the 7″ tablets, which can be as low as $79 but most hover around $199, it is not a surprise that these sized tablets will dominate the market in 2013. But what is not obvious is how they will impact the PC market. The problem for consumers with 10″ tablets is that with a cheap Bluetooth keyboard, it is almost a mini-laptop. Also, since many consumers can do about 80% on a tablet that they can do on a PC, many consumers are either extending the life of their current PC, or if they buy new ones, they purchase cheaper models since they see them sitting idle most of the time. The traditional PC does not go away because they are still needed for heavier computing tasks like managing their media, creating digital movies, etc.

However, if consumers begin to adopt 7″ tablets in big numbers, they may go back to buying new laptops since 7″ tablets are mainly for consumption and are not good at all for traditional productivity tasks. Many industry execs hope this theory is right since it could actually help laptop sales grow in 2013 instead of subtract as many have suggested it will. I believe that next year consumers will sort out which tablet is best for them and in doing so will finally determine the role the PC will handle for them in the future.

9: Apple creates a Hybrid tablet/PC with iOS

I am going out on a limb with this last prediction. But one of the more interesting developments with 10″ tablets is that if you add a Bluetooth keyboard, it becomes a mini-laptop. The Android and Windows side of the tech market are moving quickly to create tablet/laptop combo devices and business and consumers alike are showing interest in these kind of products. If these types of products gain serious traction, I believe Apple may need to respond to this growth threat in the same way they have now entered the 7″ tablet market despite the fact that Steve Jobs told everyone that Apple would never do a 7″ tablet. But imagine a sleekly designed hybrid that perhaps has the design lines of the MacBook Air but the iPad screen detaches from its ultra-thin keyboard. For lack of a better term I call it the Macbook AirPad or iPadAir. I know Tim Cook has denounced this type of design suggesting it is like attaching a “toaster to a refrigerator.” But a sleek and elegant iPad/keyboard device designed by Apple would be of interest to a lot of people, me included.