Top 5 2014 Predictions

Bob O'Donnell / December 31st, 2013

The next year promises to bring some critical new changes to the world of devices, the software and services that run on those devices, and the usage of those devices in both commercial and consumer environments. In this year-end column, I predict what I believe will be the top 5 changes impacting the tech market for 2014.

PREDICTION 1: WORLDWIDE “PHABLET” SHIPMENTS WILL OUTPACE WORLDWIDE SMALL (8” AND UNDER) TABLET SHIPMENTS

The technology market, the hardware supply chain and most vendors have been almost obsessively focused on the tablet market for the last several years. Of course, they’ve had good reason to do so. Tablet shipments grew from almost nothing in 2010 to a market that in 2014 will be measured in the hundreds of millions of units and tens of billions of dollars. During that time, we also witnessed an important transformation within the tablet business, as the market flip-flopped between demand for larger tablets (such as the original iPad) and smaller tablets (such as the Google Nexus 7). In fact, in 2013, the smaller 8” and under category was expected to account for about 60-65% of all tablets. At the same time, we began to see the growth of the 5” and larger screen size smartphone (commonly called a “phablet”), thanks to the popularity of products like Samsung’s Galaxy Note.

In 2014, I expect these two powerful developments to cross streams, with the phablet category gaining the upper hand. Specifically, I predict that the market for large-size smartphones will surpass that of smaller tablets (in the range of 175 million units versus 165 million units) and that development, in turn, will have a dramatic impact on the hardware and software ecosystems supporting these devices for many years to come. For US-based industry observers, this phenomena may be a bit difficult to see initially, in part because I believe it will occur outside the US first. But this difficulty is also because many in the US have failed to look past the idea of a phablet as anything more than a device that looks ridiculously large when held up to your head to make a phone call. In many Asian countries (notably forward-looking South Korea—where phablets already make up about 2/3 of all mobile phones and where tablets remain a limited market) as well as developing regions, where broadband connectivity and WiFi hotspots are more limited, phablets are seen for what they really are: always on, always connected, always with you mobile computing devices that occasionally make phone calls (and typically with a Bluetooth headset when they are).

I believe many vendors—including Apple—will enter and/or strengthen their phablet offerings in 2014, with a particularly strong push from Chinese vendors such as Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo. In fact, these vendors, amongst others, will help drive down the costs of these devices significantly over the next year—even in markets where there are little or no subsidies from the telco operators. This, in turn, will open up hundreds of millions of new customers to a more complete, more visual experience of the internet and, for many of them, serve as their sole computing device. The impact is bound to be enormous.

PREDICTION 2: THE BUSINESS PC MARKET WILL REBOUND

The PC market has been written off as a lost cause for years by some in the tech press and even within the industry itself. And again, there has been good reason for these concerns: PC shipments peaked in 2011 and have been declining ever since. But, I would argue, even a steep decline, does not a death foretell. In fact, in the business world, there are several signs of hope. The last few quarters in the US commercial PC market, in particular, have returned to positive year-over-year growth and I believe this phenomena will continue in 2014 and even spread to other developed regions.

The reasons for this belief are several. First, the installed base of commercial PCs is aging and a reasonable number—the exact percentage being a hotly debated subject—are in need of replacement. Second, there are a number of business organizations still running Windows XP and with the April 8, 2014 end-of-support (and more importantly, end of security updates) deadline now just a quarter away, there are bound to be a bunch of last minute stragglers who will purchase new PCs to upgrade some of these older machines. The third reason—and the one I believe actually has the biggest potential impact—is the increasing awareness that PCs in business are not going away anytime soon. For all the justified excitement around tablets, smartphones and the aforementioned phablets, people also now recognize that, particularly in business environments, those devices do not replace PCs. They are great supplemental tools—and for some, perhaps even the primary tools—but the likelihood that large numbers of people in a typical business environment would be willing to completely walk away from a PC and still feel confident that they could get their work done is small, particularly in regions outside the US.

Even consumer PCs may get some badly needed reinvigoration late in 2014 thanks to the expected arrival and growth of lower-cost (sub-$500) 3-D printers. Part of the reason consumer PCs have struggled is that many feel they are overkill for the types of applications most people use. Viewing, creating, editing and scanning 3D images before they are printed, however, seems like exactly the kind of activity that could get at least some people to justify a new consumer PC purchase. I expect to see 3D cameras that could function as simple 3D scanners in notebook PCs by the end of the year, so this is an area that bears watching—but it probably won’t have much of a serious impact until 2015.

PREDICTION 3: LOW-END SMARTPHONE BUSINESS WILL DRIVE MAJOR PLATFORM READJUSTMENTS

The majority of the focus on the smartphone market for the last few years has been on the high-end devices geared towards developed (and relatively wealthy) markets, such as the US and Western Europe. In 2014, however, a confluence of factors will start to shift more attention to the lower-end markets in developing regions and the full impact of the widely anticipated but long delayed BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) phenomena—in which developing economies, such as the ones found in these four countries end up having a much greater impact on worldwide trends—will likely hit the smartphone market more than it ever did the PC market. First, the smartphone share of the total mobile phone market in countries like the US and parts of Western Europe is extremely high—nearly 90% in the case of the US. That means the market is nearly saturated in these countries and depends almost completely on replacements—people exchanging one smartphone for another. Of course that’s a popular exercise here in the US—and one that the carriers are trying to encourage as much as possible—but it doesn’t drive nearly as many sales as that of first-time smartphone buyers. Plus, as the pace of smartphone improvements inevitably starts to slow—something that you could easily argue has already started to occur and will increasingly be the case once we see a wider array of phablet-sized phones (iPhone 6, anyone?)—the desire and impetus to upgrade is also likely to decrease as well.

The bottom line? New smartphone purchasers in developing markets will quickly become the most important consumers for smartphone vendors to target. Of course, many of those buyers will be upgrading as well—but it will be from small-screened feature phones, many of which carry the Nokia brand. As a result, I believe that if Microsoft and Nokia focus the proper attention on a solid step-up strategy for these types of customers with smarter versions of the popular Asha line of Nokia phones and embed a Windows Phone 8-like UI, there could be a very real chance for the pair to become a solid number three choice in the mobile phone platform world. In addition, while there has been almost no measurable success to date, I believe it’s too early to completely write off Firefox OS, Tizen and other efforts targeted at creating an alternative mobile OS environment for the low end. While Android clearly has a huge advantage, ongoing concerns about splintering and the uncertainty surrounding how Google intends to merge Android and Chrome (details of which are likely to emerge in 2014) could create opportunities for new, smaller players.

PREDICTION 4: WEARABLE ANNOUNCEMENTS COULD OUTNUMBER SHIPMENTS

The hype around “smart wearable” devices, particularly smart watches and smart glasses has hit the kind of absurd level that one often associates with fads and other “bubble”-type developments. So, while there will certainly be no shortage of announcements coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, the actual shipments of the devices will almost certainly have less impact than all the stories they will inevitably generate.

Admittedly, the headline to this prediction is more than a bit hyperbolic in the opposite direction, but the truth is that early results from smart wearables have been disappointing and reflect the more “experimental” nature of this category’s first offerings. Smart glasses suffer not only from the basic pricing and “fashion” concerns of such a device, but from a level of privacy and security concerns that could easily lead to restrictive legislative action in countries all over the world. In fact, I would not be shocked if 2014 was the year when devices such as Google Glass were legally banned in some types of establishments and/or some states or countries.

Smart watches should avoid those kinds of hassles, but have unique challenges of their own. Because of basic physics and mechanics, none of these devices are likely to include a wireless broadband (3G/4G) radio—or the battery necessary to support it—anytime soon. As a result, they will be stuck functioning as expensive accessories to mobile phones, with limited differentiation and perceived value by most consumers: not a strong recipe for success. But, if vendors can come up with the right kinds of clever applications that take clear advantage of the new form factor, then there’s always the possibility of a game-changing product. Right now, however, I’m not holding my breath….

PREDICTION 5: MULTI-DEVICE, MULTI-PLATFORM “COMPANION APPS” WILL BECOME AN IMPORTANT NEW CATEGORY

As people continue to add to their collections of smart connected devices, a few important revelations start to become clear. First, though, they’re theoretically designed to make our lives easier, it seems the more devices we own, the harder it is to get everything working together. Part of this may be due to the related axiom that the likelihood of having all your devices on a single platform decreases with every new device you acquire. Second, and somewhat paradoxically to the first point, the more devices you own, the more interest you develop in getting them to work together.

As a result of these observations, I would argue that the market is in desperate need of more applications and services that allow multiple devices running multiple platforms to work together as a coherent whole. I call this category “companion apps” and I believe it is poised to become an important new opportunity in 2014. The concept here is for combinations like a Windows PC and an Android Tablet or a Chromebook and an iPhone, or a smart TV, a Windows Phone and an iPad to all work together in helping to complete a task, provide some information or simply serve as a source of entertainment. This is not simply a case of duplicating functionality across all the devices, but of actually using each device at the elements of a task for which it is best suited. So, for example, to use the last combination, the act of watching TV could be greatly enhanced if the Windows Phone could function as the smart remote control for the TV, while the TV relays supplementary content (e.g., character background, sports statistics, etc.) to the iPad’s screen. To be sure, there are many different ways to achieve the scenario I described (as well as many other potential combinations—see my previous “Multi-Device, Multi-Platform Companion Apps” column here on Techpinions for a few more companion app examples). But the important point is that these kinds of combinations could give end users a great sense of satisfaction, as well as the perspective that each of their devices was now even more powerful and more useful.

Of course, talking about these kinds of ideal device-to-device communications situations and actually achieving them are two very different things. But with developments like Qualcomm’s AllPlay protocol starting to gain traction, I believe 2014 will be year when these types of multi-device applications become important.

Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.
  • Bill Smith

    First, what an awesome piece of analysis. Bravo! I don’t agree with all of your predictions, but I love how carefully you laid out your thoughts. This is one of the best articles I’ve read all year.

    I do agree on your fifth point. There’s a great deal of room for device middleware, both hardware and software that make it possible to bridge ecosystems. In fact, one of the advisories I sent to my clients earlier this year is that the next three years will be an era of “companion tech”, whether over Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi or other peer-to-peer networking schemes. If you have a number of silo’ed products, how do you use them together, and I don’t mean awkward third-party sync. I believe the scale here is huge, with cars and houses becoming the biggest anchors of compatibility. I’ve already heard discussion of certain car brands not being considered because they don’t fit well into the Apple or Android ecosystem. I expect upscale housing, luxury transportation and even restaurants to seek customer loyalty through tech. iBeacons alone, has great possibilities, though I wonder whether customers will buy iPhones to be part of the ecosystem, or if there will be backlash that drives everyone to whatever alternative gains critical mass.

    Don’t underestimate how much this can make a device seem “broken.” While all the Apple geeks are AirDrop’ing photos and videos back and forth, the Android owner seems to be an outcast. Similarly, the Android NFC contact exchange “bump” is something I’m seeing more often in meetings.

    Apple seems to have lost the plot here. It’s a struggle for Samsung and Microsoft to create such vast ecosystem tie-ins, but Apple is not pushing hard. I see great reason why Amazon(!) may have the ability to come in from left field with a series of services that are unstoppable.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      Thanks Bill, I really appreciate your comments. I would never expect that everyone would agree with all my predictions but I would hope that everyone could at least understand the rationale behind them and, based on your commentary, I’m hoping that they can.
      Regarding the final prediction and your point about not underestimating how much this can make a device seem broken, I could not agree more. It’s exactly this kind of non-functional experience for things or activities that people find useful or interesting that will drive people to consider alternative platforms to what they currently own–regardless of whether they are currently primarily an iOS, Android, or even Windows user. It’s always about the experience, but what’s changing is the range of experiences that people now expect.

      • Bill Smith

        @Bob O’Donnell:disqus Any comments on how you think iBeacon will play out? Do you think Apple will cave and make it a more open standard (though Bonjour already is)? Shopping and tourist venues seem to be merrily deploying the Apple-only technology. If Apple is aggressive in helping stores integrate iBeacon, it could be quite an advantage.

        “Welcome to Burberry, may we suggest a few things that will look great on you?” [User TouchID login]
        [Siri speaks while video plays on phone]”You keep coming back to those Jimmy Choo’s, and those would go great with that beige Balenciaga you saw earlier. Would you like to try them on?” [User says or taps Yes]
        “Okay, we’ll start a dressing room for you based on the sizes you have on file.”

        [User activates Siri while standing in front of a dress rack] “Do you have this in my size?”
        “No, the blue is sold out in your size, but we do have your size in green, if you’d like to try it on. Since you’re one of our Premier customers, we can have the blue shipped to your home next week for a free in-home trial. As always, returns are free.”
        “Okay, add it to my dressing room.”
        “Added. By the way, you qualify for a free makeup consultation. Would you like to schedule one today?”

        [User activates Siri] Where is my dressing room?
        “It’s to your left, room 3. You said you enjoyed working with Jenny last time. Shall I page her for you?” “Yes.” “Would you like someone from alterations, too?” “Yes.” “Okay, Jenny should be there in about 2 minutes, and Margot from alterations will join you shortly.”

        —If someone comes up with an integrated sales experience like that, it’s game over.

        • Bob O’Donnell

          Bill,

          I would completely agree that if someone comes up with the type of shopping experience you describe, it will certainly be a great example of the type of connected device scenario that people will be looking for in their current and future devices. The problem is if they do so in a way that is unique to their platform, they inevitability limit the potential impact that such an experience could have. So, it’s a calculated bet for Apple as regards iBeacon: do they keep it proprietary to help drive more people to the platform or do they open it up and reap the potential benefits of the commerce ecosystem? My guess is they keep it proprietary for a while to help drive some attention to iOS and to build and strengthen the other necessary pieces for better commerce experiences and then once those pieces are in place, they open it to others.
          Bob

          • Bill Smith

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I also see women as the consumers to conquer in mobile. Stereotypically, men shop on parameters that can be quantized; if a sales experience can be marketed properly toward women, with no mention of GHz and cores, I expect very little retro-culture. Fads in women’s fashion spread like wildfire. The key is having a workable Siri API.

  • I’m would like to know how much of the predictions are by “we” and how much are by “I”. You seem to mix these pronouns and I can’t be sure whether these predictions are your own or of techpinions as a whole.

    • Bill Smith

      I agree that there’s much use of the royal “we”, when Mr. O,Donnell most likely is not speaking for “TechPinions”, but for an assumed subset, or perhaps another, non-obvious “we”.

      Grammatical issues aside, it’s a great article. Since there isn’t an editor to question such things, I’ve found it wise to dive into new postings with a glass of my favorite Shiraz in hand, and a determination to take the chaff with the wheat. I may become an alcoholic in 2014 as a result.

      I’ve also found that using Speech–>Start Speaking, such that I listen to the article rather than read it, reduces the level of headache I get from grammar faux pas. It’s easier to ignore verbal issues than those in print.

      I do, however, treasure a moment during one of the “Cubed” podcasts when Benedict Evans(?) threatened Ben Bajarin with bodily harm because the grammar and pronunciation issues were driving him insane.

      • I didn’t take it as a grammatical issue. I truly wanted to know. If the predictions were agreed upon by Techpinions writers, they would carry much more weight than by a single person. If it was an “I” hiding behind a “we”, then I think there is an accountability issue.

        • Bill Smith

          I understand and agree.

          An editor would have insisted that “we” be defined, and that there not be so much alternation between voices (i.e. “I” and “we”). In resolving the grammatical issues, the editor would have also questioned appropriateness and accountability.

        • Bob O’Donnell

          Naofumi,
          FYI, all the edits are now made. And, as pointed out above, there was no intention to hide behind a “we”–I’ll take full responsibility and blame for what’s there. This was simply an oversight based on how I intend to use the material as part of another, longer document I will be publishing under my new research firm later today.

          • Thanks. I fully understand and I apologize for using the word “hiding”. I shouldn’t have.

          • Bob O’Donnell

            No worries. I appreciate the comments and exchange. Plus, your comments triggered me to fix something I meant to do anyway.

      • benbajarin

        Your grace is appreciated. 🙂

        Yes it was Benedict that threatened to “murderize” me.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      The predictions are all from me and in my late night haste to finish, I forgot to do a final read. I will fix those now.
      P.S. The reason they were there in the first place is that I will be using these predictions and 5 others as part of a document I’m publishing today under my new firm TECHnalysis Research and I used the royal “we” for that document and didn’t fix it when I pasted into the column entry tool.

  • stefnagel

    PCs in business are not going away anytime soon? This statement defines a driver for PC sales? It’s just a truism: Of course PCs won’t literally evaporate. But the shrinkage of PC use in favor of cheaper, simpler, more efficient tablets for let’s say many more or even most jobs will continue. If PCs are not gone, they are going, going…

    • Bob O’Donnell

      I would argue that in most businesses, tablets and other devices are replacing some of the activities traditionally done only on PCs and thus are dramatically impacting the amount of total work time spent on PCs versus other devices. But as you mention, PC’s won’t evaporate and because they don’t last forever, they will have to be replaced. My argument essentially is that this replacement cycle can (and should) be enough to drive commercial PC shipments back in a positive direction.

      • Glaurung-Quena

        But replacing aging PCs is not going to grow the PC market, because once those PCs have been replaced, there will be no new purchases until they are once again in need of replacement. I assume you’re saying that businesses will stop deferring the replacement of old equipment that they started doing during the economic meltdown, which would produce an uptick in sales.

        However, PCs are extremely durable now that manufacturers are no longer buying cut-rate capacitors. The flattening out of Moore’s law improvements in the last 6-7 years means that new PCs are not going to be all that markedly faster than the PCs they replace. And SSDs have solved the final piece of the durability problem by turning hard drives into something without any moving parts. So I think businesses are going to (finally) start replacing their computers on the same 5-10 year schedule that they use for replacing all their other office equipment, instead of the much faster cycle that they used in the past. Which would mean the slow PC sales of late will continue.

        • Bill Smith

          It seems there will be a dead cat “bounce” because most companies (a) have been delaying capital expenditures, (b) have not been hiring quickly and (c) don’t have a strategy for anything else.

          There’s a surprising number of CIO folk who still think FibreChannel has a reason to exist, and they’re scared senseless that success isn’t just preparing for the next version of Windows and getting ready for the new Exchange/Sharepoint.

  • RobbieP

    Nice article as a whole, and here comes the however, however, your and so many other tech writers tone on about how the telcos drive customers to update phones is to me a reverse engineered hypothesis. If as I understand it we who are on a two year, get the phone for $200 are paying the telcos BACK for the true cost of the phone… then after the payback (2 years of payback and interest on the loan), the telcos are getting the whole kit and kabootle from me and not having to pay Apple or anyone else for having the phone. Where if I buy a new phone the cycle begins again and the telcos are in the hole for 2 years before the phone is again paid off. So it seems to me that it is in my self interest to upgrade to the detriment of the telcos?
    I pay the same for the contract, where the money is anyhow, I get no cut in service price after the phone is paid off…….. Please explain why the telcos want me to upgrade?????

    • Bill Smith

      The telco’s don’t want you to upgrade…EVER, but they do want you to stay with the same carrier, and they do want you to take as long as you need to decide on your next phone (while they collect a very nice premium).

      To an extent, it’s all about cash flow and playing the numbers, though. Most don’t upgrade as soon as they can. The decision to change carriers tends to go hand in hand with changing phones for those who don’t want to spend an extra second with their old phone. If you’re happy, there are far better things to do than spending the day on hold with your carrier.

      I don’t think the model will remain much longer in the US. Use it to your best advantage.

      • aardman

        That would be the major Telcos except T-Mobile. Under T-Mobile’s current business model, they don’t care if you upgrade your phone or not. In fact if you upgrade by buying the handset from them on installment, they’re actually lending you money interest free.

        • Bill Smith

          Then don’t forget about the MVNO’s like Ting (Sprint). T-Mobile isn’t doing you any explicit favors. There’s a favorable tax and delayed income situation involved. These are businesses after all.

          • aardman

            Oh I don’t know what their deep-seated motives are, all I know is they offer me a much better deal, their reps are always going the extra mile for me when I call, likewise the sales clerks in their physical stores, and for all the favorable tax and delayed income situations that you say are really driving their behavior, somehow the same profit-seeking motives of their competitors do not result in a similarly desirable product nor outstanding service, at least for me.

            There are a thousand and one ways to make a buck and somehow T-Mobile finds the way that has me smiling. Yes they are doing me an explicit favor.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      Robbie,
      Thanks for the comments. Your logic on the telcos does make sense, but I think part of the issue is that as people upgrade to bigger and better phones, they also tend to upscale their data plans and that’s where there can be some economic benefit to the telcos. In addition, as Bill Smith points out below (or maybe above–depending on where my comment gets placed!), avoiding churn–that is, switching between carriers–is a critical metric for their business, so the upgrades are often used to keep people where they are because the long-term cost of losing a customer and adding a new one is much higher than maintaining an existing customer. Also, as Bill implies, there are questions about how long these kinds of huge subsidy programs will last in the US. In many parts of their world there are no subsidies, so you have to pay for the full price of the phone and there have been various experiments (such as what T-Mobile has been trying with their “Uncarrier” initiative) to try and break this cycle. Now, to be fair, most haven’t worked well as yet because it’s hard to get people to change from a subsidized model, but I would expect to see more experimentation with pricing plans over 2014 from all the major US telcos.

    • Glaurung-Quena

      “Please explain why the telcos want me to upgrade?”

      They don’t. That’s why AT&T has followed T-mobile with starting to offer a slight discount if you stay with them and keep your old phone once the 2 year contract is up.

  • 1100101

    I understand your last prediction, that of “multiple devices running on multiple platforms to work as a coherent whole”. But the enabling technology example you cite is a protocol. We can look at other multi-platform environments as examples of the obstacles to achieving this level of cooperative processing. For example, in the data center, and even in the web, we see many common or standard protocols, but little true cooperative processing. And it is worse than that; just sharing data between computation nodes is fraught with peril. The protocol is the trivial part. In the enterprise, it is still a common task to map data items and data definitions between computation nodes, and doing so is non-trivial and sometimes impossible. And even then the semantics of data transitions and processing results are not mapped. Today, the best in cooperative processing across truly disparate platforms is only seen where a standard protocol AND a standard standard data model are present. Any other cooperative processing examples reaching beyond this are usually not upgradable (upgrade is something no one thinks about, until they decide they are going to do it). The point of my post is to say that, yes, the outcome of the prediction you make is a noble goal, but has no chance of truly coming to pass in 2014, except for special cases, and having any sort of common message or wire protocol is only the beginning of the solution. Today the only examples that we see that can claim any cooperative processing are simple, and none of them even aspire to the goal implicit in your prediction. What is missing is not a technology (remember XML was going to solve this?), we are missing a generally applicable “model” for how to describe and define true cooperative processing in the general case. So we build point “interfaces”, we do “message passing” (both of which go beyond a technology protocol, BTW), or we do custom stuff, which is beyond the reach of the computing domain in your prediction.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      Thanks for the comment. I understand your point and it could be that the last prediction is a bit idealistic, but I have seen (and cited in the previous column I linked to) some interesting examples of the kind of companion apps I was referring to. Admittedly, they don’t go as far as what you describe, but they do represent how you can create applications (or experiences) that leverage multiple devices and multiple platforms. Those kinds of things I believe are possible in 2014–hence my prediction.

      • Bill Smith

        Actually, there are already a number of interchange standards in place. Many data types already have standard formats. I would cite HTTP as cooperative processing, with all types of client/server scripting, layout and content formats built atop it. Consider things like JSON, Websockets, RPC, Bonjour.

        Regardless, I believe Bob spoke of having one’s devices interoperate (e.g. a Windows Phone remote that can discover and control an Apple AirPlay device). This mostly works with just Bonjour (discovery) and RPC/JSON, but some standards body must still define and certify the properties and data types that can be exchanged for a particular device type.

        If a “remote control” can discover a media device, and I know that all media devices can provide an identifier string, PLAY, PAUSE and STOP, I’ve achieved interoperability. But if there’s a CONTRAST UP/DOWN command sequence, and my remote doesn’t understand the concept, I have a limitation.

        What you are describing is the Internet of Things, and it is already becoming a reality. The devices expose what they are capable of. Other devices discover what’s out there and present a user interface.

    • jfutral

      Yeah, that last one is a two edged sword. Let’s assume the different computing UX companies out there were even interested in working together and somehow saw cooperating as a revenue growth venture, this sort of “standard” has a tendency to become less a baseline, and more a ceiling that, once makers start cooperating, never see the need to rise above. And those who do try to create something better will get accused of not adhering to standards. It becomes a lose-lose position even while making things easier.

      Case in point, no sooner did the TV makers get us to move up to HD, they then tried to get us to move to 3D and now 4k TVs. Most people just spent thousands of dollars to upgrade something they used to spend $2-300 on average and now the TV makers want us to go out and spend thousands more, again!

      Or the internet and HTML or even wifi is a perfect example. Companies are at the mercy of some consensus standards setting board before progress can be made available to the consumer. And should a company decide not to wait, they risk upsetting the standards, even if what they offer is superior.

      That’s a tough value proposition to convince a company to tackle. They put their present AND future in someone else’s hands.
      Joe

  • aardman

    We are an all Apple family, Mac, Pad, Pod, Phone, Airport and TV box. We do not experience the multiple platform friction that Prediction 5 talks about, iCloud has already solved it for us, at least as far as our needs are concerned.

    If the recommended remedy to multi-platform complexity is another layer of protocols to get the different protocols/standards to talk to each other, then that is not a solution. You don’t fix complexity by adding more complexity.

    The different platform providers have very little incentive to collaborate on a solution. Especially Apple, who is already ahead of the game. And if you don’t have Apple participating in the solution, you won’t have a solution. Or at least one that promises decent profits as Apple will corner/has already cornered the affluent, profitable customer segment and the rest race to the bottom.

    Why are we still talking about this? Apple’s integrated whole ecosystem approach is what everyone is trying to emulate.

    • Bill Smith

      I believe Bob in describing efforts to have interoperability beyond the Apple ecosystem. Not everyone sources all their computing devices from Apple. iCloud, though much improved, does not address many types of interconnectivity. iCloud is for individuals (hence the “i”), and is either irrelevant or an impediment in federated enterprise environments.

      My firm runs on mostly Apple equipment. The conference rooms have HDTV’s connected to Apple TV’s, rather than projectors, and are only accessible over AirPlay. But when clients (or vendors) come to visit, we roll out the “PC” on a cart that has been hacked to transmit over AirPlay. Yes, we turn up our noses, but we are not an island.

      I mean no disrespect, but it’s unwise to think that other companies must throw up their hands and declare Apple the victor. Windows exists, Android exists, Linux exists. While using Apple products provides a competitive advantage for us, it’s unrealistic (or at least impractical, if not financially foolhardy ) to impose your preferences on others.

      • Bob O’Donnell

        Thanks Bill, you’ve summed up my thoughts exactly….

      • aardman

        I am speaking, as the Prediction 5 does, in the context of the consumer market. You appear to speak, however, of the enterprise market. So by all means, enterprises must cater to more than just Apple device owners.

        More important than whether Apple has or has not won is whether Apple’s integrated whole-ecosystem (not just whole widget) approach has won. And I say it has, judging by the direction that MS, Google and Samsung are taking.

        So I question whether multi-device, multi-platform integrative apps is going to be a long term solution. It is more likely that consumers will, by hundreds of millions of individual and independent decisions, coalesce around a few platforms for all their computing/communicating needs because that is the best approach to ensuring that their devices play nice with one another.

        Complexity is the enemy of high technology. And as the devices and infrastructure they operate in become more complex, integrative apps will get more and more unwieldy to the point that the consumer will just decide that life will be a lot simpler if she just picks one platform for all her needs.

        The same forces that in the early 20th century forced independent engine builders, chassis fabricators, and coach works to coalesce into integrated auto manufacturers are at play in the consumer computing device industry today.

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