Top Tech Predictions for 2016

Another year has come and gone, and in the tech world, it seems not much has changed. 2015 was arguably a relatively modest year when it comes to major innovations, with many of the biggest developments essentially coming as final delivery or extensions to bigger trends that started or were first announced in 2014. Autonomous cars, smart homes, wearables, virtual reality, drones, Windows 10, large-screen smartphones, and the sharing economy all made a bigger initial mark in 2014 and continued to evolve over this past year.

Looking ahead to 2016, I expect we will see changes that, on the surface, also don’t seem to amount to much initially, but will actually prove to be key foundational shifts that drive a very different, and very exciting future. Here are the first five of my predictions of key themes for the new year (the next five will appear in next week’s column.)

Prediction 1: The Death of Software Platforms, The Rise of the MetaOS

Proprietary software platforms like iOS, Windows, and Android have served as the very backbone of the tech industry and the tech economy for quite some time, so it may seem a bit ludicrous to predict their demise. However, I believe the walls supporting these ecosystems are starting to crumble. Device operating systems were built to enable the creation of applications that worked on specific devices, and they did an incredible job—perhaps too good—of doing just that. We now have somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million apps available each for iOS and Android and hundreds of thousands of Windows apps. The problem is, the vast majority of people download less than a hundred and actually use more like 5-10 apps on a regular basis.

More importantly, most consumers now own and regularly use multiple devices with multiple operating systems and what they really want isn’t a bunch of independent apps, but access to the critical services that they access through their devices. Yes, some of those services are delivered through apps, but many of the biggest software and service providers are altering their strategies to ensure that they can deliver a high quality experience regardless of the app, device, OS, or browser being used to access their application or service. Factor in the increasing range of smart home, smart car, and other connected devices we’ll all own and regularly use in the near future—plus the general app fatigue that I think many consumers now feel—and the whole argument around an app-driven world starts to make a lot less sense.

Instead, from Facebook to Microsoft to DropBox and hundreds of other cloud service providers, we’re seeing companies build what I call a MetaOS—a platform-like layer of software and services that remains independent of any underlying device platform to deliver the critical capabilities that people are ultimately looking to access. Bigger companies like Facebook and Microsoft are integrating a wide range of services into these MetaOS platforms—particularly around communications and contextual intelligence agents—that will increasingly take on the tasks and roles that other individual applications used to. Want access to media content or documents or (eventually) commerce and financial services? Even better, want a smart assistant to help coordinate your efforts? Log into one of these MetaOS megaservices and your unique digital identity (another key element of a MetaOS) will give you secure access to these services and much more.

Look for Google, Apple, and Amazon, among others, to start making a bigger effort in this area, and expect to see some of these larger companies make key acquisitions to fill in gaps in their MetaOS efforts over the course of the next year. This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, but I think 2016 will be the year we start to see more of these strategies take shape.

Prediction 2: Market Maturation Leads to Increased Specialization

The era of products that appeal to a broad, cross-section of all consumers is coming to an end and it’s being replaced by a new era where we will see more products that are more tightly focused on specific sets of customers. The key product categories have matured, and it’s hard to find broad new product categories that appeal to a wide range of consumers in the same way that PCs, tablets, and smartphones have.

That’s not to say that we won’t be seeing any exciting or interesting new product categories—after all, something has to be next year’s hoverboard—but they won’t have the same kind of wide-ranging impact that the now more “traditional” smart devices have had. As a result, I think we’ll see a wide variety of sub-categories for smart homes, connected cars, wearables, drones, VR headsets, and consumer robotics that will perhaps sell in the tens or hundreds of thousands instead of the tens of millions that other product categories have enjoyed. The Maker Movement and crowd-funding efforts will go a long way towards helping drive these changes, but I also expect that we’ll see the China/Shenzen hardware ecosystem start to adjust and focus more efforts on being able to specialize and even personalize devices. The end result will be a wider range of devices that more specifically meet different consumers’ needs. At the same time, I believe it will also be harder to “find the pulse” of where major hardware developments are headed, because they will be moving in so many different directions. The key will be in developing manufacturing technologies that can enable greater abilities to specialize and that can produce products profitably with lower production runs.

Prediction 3: Apple Reality Check Leads to Major Investment

Apple has had an incredible run at the top of the technology heap for quite some time and, to be clear, I’m not saying that 2016 is the year this will end. What I am saying, however, is that 2016 is the year the company will face some of its biggest challenges, and the year that the “reality distortion field” surrounding the company will start to fade. With two-thirds of its revenues dependent on a single product line (the iPhone) that’s running into the realities of a slowing global smartphone market, the company is going to have to make some big new bets in 2016 in order to retain its market-leading position. I’m not exactly sure what those bets might be (augmented/virtual reality, financial services, automotive, enterprise software, media, or some combination of all of the above), but I’m convinced there are a great deal of very smart people at Apple who are undoubtedly thinking through what’s next for them. Maintaining the status quo in 2016 doesn’t seem like a great option, so this should be the year they seriously tap into that massive cash reserve of theirs and make some major, game-changing acquisitions.

Prediction 4: The Great Hardware Stall Forces Shift to Software and Services

As most companies besides Apple have already learned, it’s very hard to make money on hardware alone, and those problems will only be exacerbated in 2016. With expected declines in tablets and PCs, the flattening of the smartphone market and only modest overall uptake for wearables and other new hardware categories, we’re nearing the end of a several decade-long run of hardware growth. We’ll see pockets of opportunity to be sure—see Prediction 2 above—but companies who have been primarily or even solely dependent on hardware sales are going to have to make some difficult decisions on how they evolve in the era of software and services. As a result, I expect to see more major acquisitions such as the recent Dell/EMC/VMware deal. The challenge, of course, is that many hardware-focused organizations don’t have the in-house skill sets or mindsets to make this transition, so I expect we’ll see very challenging times for some hardware-focused companies in 2016.

Another potential impact from this hardware stall could be an increased desire for hardware companies to become more vertically oriented in order to maximize their opportunity in a shrinking profit pool. This could lead either to acquisitions of key semiconductor vendors and other core component providers by device makers, or vice versa, but either way, hardware-focused companies are going to have to focus on maximizing profitability through reduced costs. After decades of widening the supply chain horizontally, it seems the pendulum is definitely swinging back towards vertical integration.

Prediction 5: Autonomous Car Hype Overshadows Driver Assistance Improvements

The technological advancements in automobiles have been impressive over the last year or two, with the idea of a connected car, and even a partially automated car, quickly moving from science fiction to everyday reality. However, there are still a number of major legislative, social, and technology challenges that need to be overcome before our roadways are filled with self-driving cars. The real advancements that are starting to take place in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane departure warnings, automatic braking, more sophisticated cruise controls, etc., offer some very beneficial safety benefits. But they’re not as sexy as autonomous driving, so much of the press seems to be overlooking them. Even the car vendors seem to be focused more on delivering their vision of autonomous driving than on what we’ll be able to actually purchase and drive over the next five years. In reality, they’re showing the modern-day version of concept cars instead of production cars, but that point is being missed by many. Remember that, unlike the tech industry, the automotive industry regularly builds and displays products it has little or no intention of ever releasing to the world at large.

Improvements in car electronics and intelligence are happening at an impressive pace, and the quality of our in-car experiences is going to change dramatically over the next several years. It’s important to put all the advancements in context, however, and recognize that they’re not all going to occur at the same time. We’re really just now starting to get high-quality connectivity into the latest generation cars, and there are many improvements that we can expect to see in infotainment systems (with or without Apple and Google’s help) over the next few years. As we learned this past year, there are still critical security implications just from those changes, and they won’t all be easily resolved overnight.

Eventually, we will get to truly autonomous cars that regular people can actually buy, but it’s important to understand and appreciate the step-by-step advancements that are being made along the way. These advancements may not be as revolutionary as driverless cars, but they are the news that the automotive industry can realistically deliver on over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, I think the message is going to be lost in the noise of “autonomous automania” this year, leading to thoroughly confused consumers and unrealistic expectations.

Next week I’ll finish off my 2016 predictions with five more on wearables, foldable displays, IOT, connected homes, and VR/AR. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year!

Published by

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.

54 thoughts on “Top Tech Predictions for 2016”

  1. Interesting, thank you.

    I’m wondering about a few things:

    1- e-Health. I see healthcare as very public-funding dependent, so I’m wondering how Apple and its reliance on proprietary solutions and closed ecosystems can fare in that context. I doubt governements will allow, let alone help/fund, any single company to “own” the health data ecosystem (devices, protocols, apps, data, servers), and because trickle-down it probably means the private sector won’t either. Is there any effort to build a consortium and agree on standards ?

    2- Vertical integration: It’s fairly common to extract more margin from stagnating markets by buying up suppliers or competitiors. In Apple’s case buying an Android/Windows competitor is certainly out, but what about suppliers ? Doesn’t Apple have the scale to justify buying into mid-margin stuff (chip fabs, screens, cameras…) ? Are the margins expectations too low ?

    3- Isn’t “services” a bit of a pipedream leftover from old-IT thinking ? It worked for HP Dell IBM because they had already cleared the “get an in w/ purchasers” hurdle, single source is appreciated, and there are/were lots of profitable mid-size services players to buy up. None of that applies for services in the Consumer segment though. To start with, Services aren’t big, it’s mostly about Cloud; network effects and lock-in issues scupper attempts to steer users towards minor Cloud services, single-source is inexistent unless you’re willing to buy Google or Facebook, there’s not much point in buying anyone else: DropBox ? Pandora ? a messaging platform ? There’s not that much money nor lock-in in them…
    Maybe there’s a windows of opportunity if Mobile heats up in the entrerpise, with a rollback of BYOD ?

    1. “I doubt governements will allow, let alone help/fund, any single company to “own” the health data ecosystem (devices, protocols, apps, data, servers), and because trickle-down it probably means the private sector won’t either. Is there any effort to build a consortium and agree on standards ?”

      Do you use any medical devices? Like an insulin pump? Or a glucose meter? Or a CGMS? ALL of them use proprietary test strips, interfaces and software. All of them.

      1. 1. Isn’t there a difference between an illness-specific apparatus and something more widely useful ? Do syringes use proprietary needles (that’s an actual question, I don’t know).

        2. Isn’t a large part of the point of going IT to integrate information/tests/treatments both for a single patient, and across all patients ? If each device requires specific training, specific hardware to run analysis/data storage on, specfic apps for viewing/scheduling/… I think a lot of the benefits of IT-ization are lost: quality, reliability, costs, speed…

        1. As Khürt points out, we already have many devices in healthcare used by patients, all proprietary. This is true in Canada as well, and our healthcare is publicly funded. What the doctor wants is the data, in a format he or she can make sense of. It doesn’t matter if the device gathering the data is proprietary, or if the device is part of a closed ecosystem. The data is what matters, and we already have processes and regulations for devices so doctors can be confident the data they are getting is accurate enough. All Apple (or anyone else) has to do is adhere to the necessary regulations. As we move to fully digital health records, all we need is some agreement on the data so the information gathered by all these devices is in your health record and your doctor can use it.

          1. You’re right, but the bigger question is “Who owns the data?”. That’s because there an be other systems and devices in a a different, perhaps better in some way, ecosystem that that data will need to interface with. Proprietary is one thing, data mobility is another.

          2. The patient owns the data, it’s a non-issue. We already have enough in the way of standards, and data mobility is also a non-issue. You’re trying to create problems where there are none, simply because Apple is involved. There will be lots of innovation and interesting devices from lots of different companies, including Apple. My doctor doesn’t care where my health data comes from, only that it is regulated and accurate, and the data is in some kind of standard format that he or she can make use of. This is already reality for medical devices used by patients, in Canada at least. It is obvious that the situation will only improve, we’ll progress and get better at moving the data around, gathering the data, storing the data. But again, this is already happening, these problems are already being solved, for a long while now.

          3. Always on the defensive for Apple when there was not an attack….

            I would say this for anyone creating such a system. Remember proprietary file formats? That was mostly MS (not only). Take this in that sense.

            But since you bring it up… That would go contrary to your isolated, curated, single sourced preferences.

          4. Not at all. Most of what we use in the real world is regulated and closed, and it works very well. The same will be true of healthcare devices and information.

          5. It is regulated by the healthcare industry. Who do you think would be regulating this? What is your specific concern?

          6. Are you really asking what our concern is about health data and health systems being proprietary ? A few concerns:
            1- if it’s paid for with my money or my insurance, I should own it. And not just have access to it like a DRMed file, but the full raw data.
            2- I don’t want to be locked in to a specific hospital or treatment/testing device when something better, closer, cheaper might cause me to switch (new doctor, need to move, new illness, new HMO…)
            3- say I have a several health issues that require a coordinated treatment. How will that work if closed supplier1 can’t interface with closed supplier 2 and 3 and 4 ?
            4- I don’t want to be forced to get an iWatch, then an iPhone because it’s the only thing an iWatch will work with, then a Mac because iTunes for Windows. Imagine same with Android in your case! The horror ! Aside from the philosophical/self-image issues, there are huge cost issues with that scenario.

          7. You clearly haven’t understood a word I’ve said re: healthcare. The data already isn’t proprietary. Patients already use many proprietary devices to gather data and that data moves around as needed without much difficulty. This will only improve. Regulations and processes already exist to ensure this. Patient rights will also only strengthen over time, even in the US.

            Every issue you’ve mentioned has already been solved. The exception might be #1, since in a public healthcare system you don’t actually pay for the full cost, everyone shares that cost. Ownership probably isn’t the right way to look at healthcare data. Ownership is naturally shared by various stakeholders, it has to be this way because we have privacy issues, security issues, storage, management, interpretation, there’s a lot going on. You shouldn’t actually take 100 percent responsibility for your healthcare data, that is a very bad idea. But in most jurisdictions you have enough rights re: your data.

          8. It’s not surprising that in the US it is a bit of a mess. America is really a collection of many small ‘countries’, each governing themselves to a large extent. But I suggest you read the info you linked to more carefully. You’re quite wrong.

          9. In most states there is no law. So the patient, by definition, does not have ownership. Ambiguous ownership is non-ownership.

            Other states specifically say the medical providers have ownership. Only NH says, by law, that the patient owns the contents of the files.

            So, I’m quite right in questioning who owns the data.

          10. Again, please go back and read carefully. Various agencies and actors have responsibility for managing and storing the data, but the patient has rights re: their data in all states (see HIPAA). The US might be the worst example to use, given the fractured for profit nature of the healthcare system.

          11. I looked into it at your suggestion. HIPAA is good legislation covering privacy and access trail measures of electronic health records. It also permits changing inaccurate information.

            Good as that is, that’s not ownership. Ownership is under the full control of the owner of the property, under the law.

          12. Your example is a terrible idea. Think it through, you’ll have all kinds of data integrity issues. As I said to obarthelemy in another comment, ownership isn’t the correct way to look at this. When we’re dealing with large scale infrastructure type systems, such as healthcare, ownership is really shared by many stakeholders, and different stakeholders have different responsibilities. Many aspects of your life work this way, you don’t have full ownership but you have enough in the way of rights that you probably aren’t even aware that you don’t have full ownership (of the land your house sits on for example).

            It’s simpler to say the patient owns the data, but it’s more accurate to say the patient has enough rights re: their data. That information is necessarily gathered, managed, stored, interpreted, etc by many stakeholders within the system, and the associated costs are also shared. You are never paying the full cost of your use of the healthcare system. And there are aspects of the system that the patient should NOT be responsible for, such as storing your own data for any length of time.

            If you look deeper into state legislation you’ll find that many have laws re: patient rights and healthcare data, outside of HIPAA. As I said before this will only improve, patient rights will get stronger, and maybe in a couple decades the US will even have single payer universal healthcare.

            Your concerns about ownership, regulation, and proprietary devices are misguided. These issues are well in hand and continually improving. Apple’s involvement, or any other company, won’t change that.

          13. My example may indeed be a terrible idea, but that’s the power of ownership. Instead, it appears that current law is trending towards ‘conferring’ certain rights to patients, but not ownership.

            Which only means that ever more stringent regulation and oversight, by the government, would be required. That’s because, in the absence of ownership, who’s to defend the rights of the patient? Certainly not a corporation. They answer to their stockholders, unless they are required to comply by laws and regulations. And I can easily see several constitutional level issues arising over this data ownership.

            So, I think we actually got somewhere in our brief exchange, and if I may be so smug, it was a legitimate question to ask in the first place.

          14. Yes, we established that the issues raised by you and by obarthelemy re: Apple and healthcare are non-issues. Certainly what we’ve discussed are areas of concern, but good solutions have already been implemented.

          15. “America is really a collection of many small ‘countries'”

            And I think medicine even more so. An industry that is dependent on ever more extreme specializations (or as Buckminster Fuller would say “Doing less with more”) creates intentional silos. Is it any wonder health information would be in any less the condition it is in?


          16. I hope I’m wrong but I think the US will likely lag behind the rest of the first world when it comes to modernizing/digitizing healthcare processes and data. Although I would expect there to be pockets within the US that move faster on this issue. But as a whole it’s tough when state rights are so strong. The US can’t even implement a nation wide voting system, or adopt the metric system as a country. Single payer universal healthcare might take a couple decades yet.

        2. Needles are standard sizes. Test strips,interfaces etc. for diabetes medical devices as I mentioned before are proprietary.

          With #2 you hit the nail on the head of why life for people within certain medical conditions is challenging. I have a plethora of glucose meters and unusable test strips in a cabinet at home. I can’t give them to my father-in-law because they won’t work with his glucose meter. I can’t use them with the newer devices from the same manufacturer because they introduced new strips for the new device.

    2. Apple dominating healthcare is just another part of Apple’s reality distortion field.

      In reality , most of the burden on the healthcare system comes from relatively poor patients. So tying them deeply to the Apple ecosystem , including expensive medical apple-approved accessories , seems like a heavy financial burden, so it probably won’t happen.

      1. Well Healthcare is the ultimate seller’s market:
        1- You either pay up or die / suffer.
        2- there are huge barriers to entry (technical, regulatory, financial).

        Combine that with a weak or even complicit political apparatus… There’s a reason Shkreli happened.

        1. True, that’s a seller market, but Apple doesn’t offer something unique(medically speaking) that will force the doc to write you a prescription for an iPhone. Others have similar tech.

          1. “Apple doesn’t offer something unique(medically speaking) that will force the doc to write you a prescription for an iPhone.”

            They may not force the Doc, but if anyone is setting a standard, then that standard must be available, unimpeded, to other participants in the field.

            Using your example, even for those Docs that ‘prescribe an iPhone’, you can’t have an “App Approval Process” in who gets to use the system.

            “Sorry, we don’t allow use of that drug in our syringes…” 🙂

          2. Didn’t we already go over this? Standards and regulations already exist. Apple or Google or Microsoft, or any company won’t change that. Granted, in the US the for profit nature of healthcare does cause many problems, but doctors don’t prescribe an iPhone, they ask patients to gather or monitor specific data, and that is done by a device that meets existing standards. If an iPhone can do the job and the patient wants to use an iPhone, that’s what will happen. It doesn’t matter if the device is proprietary, the doctor just needs the data in a format that can be used, and this is already happening. You’re imagining a problem that does not exist. Data is already open and easily portable, that isn’t going to change, it’s only going to get easier and better. For profit corporations aren’t going to work against their own financial interest by creating devices doctors and patients can’t use.

          3. This is a developing story. Unlike you, I believe the future when I see it. I don’t predict it unless it’s an exact science, which these things aren’t.

          4. Anything is possible of course, but the problems you’re imagining are very, very unlikely. You would first need entities that have no power over standards to somehow gain the power to change said standards and regulations, AND you’d need those same entities to act against their own financial interest. It isn’t going to happen. You can relax. Much of the future is easy to see coming, if you can shed your bias and view reality in a more objective fashion.

          5. Yeah, you would have to be crazy to fear having your computer manufacturer dictate what you’re allowed to run…

            Ya’ gotta be paranoid or something to even think that. 🙂

  2. “One more thing” ^^

    What I’ll be watching very closely is the moving frontier between xtops and Mobile. Will MS succeed in getting a foothold in Mobile/Modern ecosystems (not only defined by mobility, but also by App Store w/ auto updates, sandbox + walled garden, no-admin…) ? Will Google or even Apple try to get into xtops with their Mobile ecosystems and put more pressure on a vulnerable MS ?

  3. Dang, on more “more thing”: Isn’t Google supposed to be looking at being evil and going back to China ? That would be a nice growth opportunity, and put the “Xiaomi loves services” angle to the test: will Chinese OEMs switch to Google’s Cloud happily so they can focus on hardware ? Reluctantly ? Not at all ? What do customers want ?

  4. “With two-thirds of its revenues dependent on a single product line (the iPhone) that’s running into the realities of a slowing global smartphone market, the company is going to have to make some big new bets in 2016 in order to retain its market-leading position.”

    That assumption has been proffered by people who conveniently forget that the percentage of Apple’s revenue provided by the iPhone is much smaller than the percentage of revenue that Microsoft relies on Windows, or that Google relies on its search business.

    With sales of Windows PCs slowing, and with alternate methods of accessing the Web becoming more prevalent, both Microsoft and Google are in much greater jeopardy of “doom” than is Apple. ;-))

    1. Neither MS or Google are the worlds largest company in market cap. Still, how does any of that change that Apple still has 2/3rds of it’s revenue coming from iPhones?

    2. 2 things:

      1- Others’ issues do not lessen Apple’s. Dependence on a single product/market is risky for anyone. MS product portfolio is resilient (Entreprise) and broad (Windows, Office, Server products…). Google’s is platform-agnostic. Id’ say of the 3 Apple is more vulnerable, same as Nokia, RIM, Palm once seemed unassailable. Consumer tastes are fickle.

      2- In general, the smartphone market is slowing. This hurts pure players more than broad-based actors.

  5. “…is that 2016 is the year [Apple] will face some of its biggest challenges, and the year that the “reality distortion field” surrounding the company will start to fade. With two-thirds of its revenues dependent on a single product line…”

    Sorry Bob. So much wrong packed into such a small space. Firstly, this is a copy/paste prediction for 20-years running.

    Second, the ‘reality distortion field’ isn’t coming from Apple; it is all inside the minds of analysts. As a tech company, Apple is grotesquely under-valued. Especially when you compare Apple’s unwavering performance to ANYONE else’s.

    Thirdly, the constant pseudo-insight about the ratios of revenues to specific products within Apple’s lineup is so simple-minded. Name a single tech company with as many high-profit product lines and a BETTER balance of product revenues. Name one. I’ll let you think about that. I’m waiting. Times up.

    Reality has been distorted, alright. Distorted by “analysts” who believe that failure=not maintaining ridiculous growth.

    Happy New Year.

    1. So, what’s your prediction ? Same rate of growth in revenues and profits, stable margins ? For Mobile and overall ? And we’ll talk again at the end of 2016 ?

  6. If you’re going to make predictions, it would be a good idea to first go back and take a look at your track record for last year. A good way to learn humility and to educate yourself about your blind spots, and a good way to give your readers a hint about your track record as an oracle.

    A year ago, in your top tech predictions for 2015, we find a mix of hits and misses.

    “Prediction 1: Retro Tech Will Be a Major Theme in 2015”

    Serious miss. I am unaware of any new products that you can buy in a store (as opposed to getting it from someone selling handmade Apple II clones on Etsy) sprouting old school knobs and switches.

    “Prediction 2: There Will Be More “Dis-Connected” Homes Than Connected Ones in 2015”

    A hit, but sort of like hitting a barn from the inside: IOT as the “next big thing” has been a recurrent subject of the consumer electronics hype machine since I was a child (when it was called home automation or the smart home), and it’s failed to materialize every time. Predicting that it will once again fail to materialize is hardly a leap.

    “Prediction 3: Custom Mobile Applications Will Go Mainstream in Business, But Android Will Lead”


    “Prediction 4: Windows 10 Will Be a Hit and Will Reinvigorate the PC Market”

    Considering that it’s still struggling to outrank XP in OS share, I’d call that a miss.

    “Prediction 5: Wireless Charging Will Be Broadly Adopted”

    I don’t patronize starbucks or McDonalds so I don’t know how ubiquitous public wireless charging docks have become, but Considering that the Qi vs Powermat standard wars are still ongoing, I suspect the answer is “not very.”

    Hint: those whose devices don’t last them through the day are looking for a way to charge *faster*, not for a way to charge more conveniently.

    So that’s 4 misses, one “you’d have to be taking payola from an IOT company to have not gotten it right” hit. May I suggest switching from tea leaves to entrails?

    1. 1. ? But not really, agreed.

      2. OK

      3. I’m not sure the “survey” from JAMF “The Apple Management Experts” ( ) is entirely unbiased ^^ Couldn’t find any particulars (selection criteria, geographic area, size…). Propaganda, more like it.

      4. Win10 is the fastest-moving update since…. forever, and in a market where new PCs (a traditional vehicle for OS updates) are not nearly as important as in-place updates. That’s a huge accomplishment.
      The part about Win10 helping PC sales is indeed wrong, since Win10 does not require new hardware and is free to anyone, not just “free” with a new PC.

      5. Wireless charging is on flagships from Samsung, LG, MS’s new Lumias… if you needed a single widely-adopted standard for a feature to be real, Apple wouldn’t have many features, so I don’t understand your “but there’s 2 standards !” argument. It’s competing with metal casings… sadly, looks win over functionality now that smartphones are handbags and someone decided aluminum is “noble” (except as my chicken’s oven wrap ?).

        1. Anecdotally, wireless charging is extremely convenient. I have various chargers scattered throughout my house, office, and even my car. Basically, when my phone is not in my pocket, it’s charging.

    2. Totally understand your point, but maybe you are being a bit too harsh. The way I see it, New Years predictions are somewhat like April Fool jokes. You do it because it’s customary to do so, but it’s agreed upon that nobody will take you seriously.

      If you really want to be serious about predictions, you should define a sound metric against which it can be measured and evaluated. Very few people do that though, unless you are forecasting the weather.

    3. I completely agree and here is a full list of my 2015 predictions as well as my comments on whether or not I got them right, wrong, or somewhere in between. Bottom line, I believe I did OK, not great, but not terrible either (and I may have just been a year early on some of them).

      •Prediction 1: Retro Tech Will Be a Major Theme in 2015
      (In Between)

      • While knobs and sliders didn’t make much of a comeback on digital devices, some of the top-selling Amazon gift items for the holidays were film and turntables, two classic retro technologies

      •Prediction 2: There Will Be More “Dis-Connected” Homes Than Connected Ones in 2015

      • Lack of real consumer value, confusing technical standards battles, and fears of hacking kept the vast majority of consumers from adopting any connected home devices in 2015

      •Prediction 3: Custom Mobile Applications Will Go Mainstream in Business, But Android Will Lead

      • Android is the leading platform for mobile devices in business, but the ongoing challenges and lack of in-house talent for building custom mobile apps kept this market nascent in 2015, though there’s still hope for 2016

      •Prediction 4: Windows 10 Will Be a Hit and Will Reinvigorate the PC Market

      •Windows 10 has been extremely well received by reviewers, consumers and businesses and it is driving renewed interest in PCs

      •Prediction 5: Wireless Charging Will Be Broadly Adopted

      •Ongoing standards battles throughout 2015 kept this technology from being widely adopted, but the prospects for 2016 look much better

      •Prediction 6: Wearables Will Make Advances, But Remain a Modest Market

      •Despite all the hype, wearables remained a decent, but modest market in 2015 and the Apple Watch did not drive enormous growth for the category

      •Prediction 7: Following Tablets, Smartphone Shipments in Developed Markets Will Decline

      •While final year-end numbers aren’t in yet, it’s clear the smartphone market is slowing rather dramatically, particularly in saturated markets like the US and Western Europe and even, to some degree, in China

      •Prediction 8: The Next Version of Big Data Will Be All About You
      (In Between)

      •The personal analytics market is still somewhat slow to evolve, but increasingly
      sophisticated portals offered by some of the wearable makers at least provide a
      much more detailed view of your health data

      •Prediction 9: Biometric Sensors Will Make Passwords Start to Go Away

      •Though the logic behind this prediction is still absolutely there, passwords are unfortunately still very much an everyday reality as we enter into 2016 and there’s still more work to be done on infrastructure support

      •Prediction 10: Instant Gratification Web-Based Services Will Consolidate (and Possibly Implode)

      •A few of the “sharing economy” services closed down in 2015, but many of the biggest players remain surprisingly strong, with company valuations that continue to
      defy all logic (but could fall to earth in 2016)

  7. Hey Bob,

    Firstly I love that you’ve said aloud the big ‘secret’ in the industry. The vast majority of users need very few apps to function. Since a web browser is like a mall of apps in itself. For instance: I have an Ecobee thermostat. Do I really need a related app on every device? It’s nice, yeah, but it’s functionality is available thru any browser. Making your point.

    As a lifelong Mac user I was concerned that buying a Win10 PC (my first) would severely limit what I do. It actually only revealed how few apps I actually need. Firefox and iTunes are my most used. LibreOffice (like iWorks) is a nice free standby… that I seldom use. And thanks to iCloud I even have iWorks available in Firefox as well. I prefer graphics related work on the Mac — but if I had to switch to Windows I could deal. It’s just that OS X gets out of your way and Windows doesn’t. It’s a subtle but definite difference. Oh — an iOS has the same issue of being ‘in’ the way. Apple has forgotten its own credo: the fewer clicks the better.

    The MetaOS thing is interesting, but I think they’ll simply be various MetaOSes one logs into. The way iCloud works right now. It’s MacCloudOS. If they added iTunes and a store — a person could buy a cheap but capable PC, remove Win10, install a stable Linux, and then log into MacCloudOS at boot. Of if it floats their boat log into MSCloudOS.

    My concern with Tim Cook’s Apple is that their greed has become completely transparent. Instead of lowering prices a little they elements of their spec to questionable results. It’s just become obvious that there will never ever be a desirable iMac for $999 or a solid MacBook for $799.

    Apple apologists chime in hear to scream RACE TO THE BOTTOM and related nonsense. I’m not suggesting Apple must match hardware prices of OEMS who are going out of business. I’m instead accusing Apple of making of ‘killer’ features which are really not so killer, terribly overpriced, and there to mask what is otherwise dated bargain spec.

    I believe Apple could truly prosper if it invited more users into the system. Lots and lots and LOTS of people would buy MacBooks if they had comparable spec to certain PCs but had a definitely higher price.

    I point out the Asus Zenbook UX305 as an example. Roughly speaking Apple charges $1199 for the equivalent. Asus charges $699 for it… but it can be nabbed for $599 if you spy sales. Apple could charge $799 for it… and $999 for a crazy suped up version.

    If they don’t go down this road sooner than later… stores will begin to close. I used to work in one and things were different then. Now the markup is just ludicrous. I bought a 15 inch laptop for my wife and that 13 inch Asus for me. For the price of one Apple 15 inch on a Black Friday sale price. They’re not as good as Macs but they suit our needs just fine.

    1. I point out the Asus Zenbook UX305 as an example. Roughly speaking Apple charges $1199 for the equivalent. Asus charges $699

      UX305CA vs Macbook 2015.
      Devil is in the details – http(://)www(.)bhphotovideo(.)com/c/compare/ASUS_UX305CA-DHM4T_vs_ASUS_UX305CA-EHM1_vs_Apple_MacBook/BHitems/1183453-REG_1183454-REG_1128855-REG

      UX305 is a little more weight, a little more size, a little slower. Windows cannot get to you 30 days in standby. And main thing – OS X can get one hour more work.

      In this case extra price from Apple not $400-500, but maybe in $100-200 with full metall notebook case.

      1. Details that YOU find interesting. There are other details OTHERS find interesting. For instance a PC person might say, “What good is an extra hour of battery if I can’t run my CAD program?”

        And as a Mac/PC person I always roll my eyes at people who act like they can’t plug in their laptop here and there. Most users aren’t away from power all day. Now if the Asus was only 2 hours unplugged, sure, but the model I have will allow you to be power free for at least 5 hours. At least. That means you can move into Starbucks for a long afternoon, leave, and still have juice. If you’re always traveling, the longer the battery the better. If you’ve been known to be at your desk at least once a day — you’re all set.

        Furthermore, the Zenbook is a blend of the MacBook Air outside and screen with the MacBook 2015 innards. So it’s almost impossible to pick which Mac you’re comparing — since no such Mac exists yet.

        You and I both know Apple gauges.

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