A new year is here so I’ll take another swing at how technology will change in the year 2014. This will be my sixth year doing a predictions post. If you haven’t read them before you should check out my 2013 post and then take a look at some of the older predictions I’ve made. I especially like my prediction from 2009 that Google would make a social network and twitter would be the next big social network. Anyway, here are some crazy, and not so crazy, predictions for 2014.
Computers and Mobile
1. Converging devices will finally become main stream. I know there have been devices in the past that attempted to solve the “one device to rule them all” problem. (e.g. Motorola Atrix, Asus Padfone) They have never taken off for three reasons, 1) they weren’t inter-operable, 2) they were slow, 3) they were expensive. I also know that many people already have “one device” because they have a keyboard dock on their iPad. In reality though, they just bought the cheapest Apple laptop they could. I think there will be a big name company (it won’t be Apple, see below) to offer their phones/tablets to be a true laptop/desktop replacement via a docking station that changes the user interface depending on what the device is plugged into. People have been trying to accomplish some of this functionality for a while with things like Ubuntu for Android, but the solution needs to come by default with the device for it to really take off.
2. Speaking of converged devices, Apple will have a larger iPad (12″) that can be used like a desktop and is designed for professionals. It will be more powerful than the existing iPad and will be Apple’s attempt at a “cheap” laptop. It won’t be as successful as the existing iPad though because for the general consumer they already have this functionality in their existing iPad/keyboard combo. It also won’t change the user interface when docked and just use super high resolution apps.
3. The year of the wearable computer! 2013 saw a lot of buzz in the wearable computer arena with the Pebble, Fitbit, Jawbone up, Samsung gear, etc. This year it will really take off because Google (via Motorola) and Apple will get behind the movement with wearables. I think most of the main stream adoption won’t happen until fall though because Google won’t announce anything until summer and Apple will wait for Fall. CES will be littered with crappy wearables coming out in early summer to beat the big name products.
4. Blackberry will die. I have predicted this with friends but realized I never put it on one of these predictions. Blackberry will transition to a completely software company and will fail to generate revenue. They will be gone by Q2 of 2015.
5. HP and Dell will get back into the mobile business. They probably realize by now they have to sell mobile devices if they want to keep revenue up. My guess is HP will make Android devices (they’ll suck) and Dell will make Windows Phone devices (they’ll suck even more). Samsung will spin off their own version of Android and LG will release a tablet with webOS.
Software and Web
1. Windows has been in a downward spiral since Windows 8 was announced (and even before Windows Phone 7 Series Phone). This year Windows will lose significant market share to OS X, Chrome OS, iOS, and Android. Microsoft has been scrambling to make Windows 8 better for consumers by adding features they removed. Although I don’t think consumers care about spying and the NSA, I do think that businesses care and this year businesses will actually start adopting the alternate operating systems for their employees. I think in many cases Windows will still be the work horse of the enterprise, via VDI, but Microsoft will be scrambling to find new markets in hardware, software subscriptions, and giving away stuff for free (and charging for premium features). They will also shift to a consumer company.
2. Web standardization is going to get a boost in 2014 for three reasons. 1) Security can be better when there is a good standard 2) user experience is better when everyone is on a level playing field 3) the least common denominator has been, and will continue to be, mobile. If companies want to reach the widest audience, they will have to design for slow devices, with small screens, and HTML browsers.
3. There will be a new great website in 2014. This one is a little bit obvious but I think the thing that is going to be neat is the fact that it will do something we haven’t dreamed of yet. In years past there have been some sites that changed how people interact with the internet IFTTT/Pinterest (2010), imgur (2009), and reddit (2005) are all examples of this and I think the pace of innovation is getting faster. This year a new site, one that was probably started in 2013, will become a huge success and will eventually get bought by Google or Facebook. Oh and one of the previously mentioned sites will be purchase by a big name company.
4. NSA backlash will cause big US companies to lose market share in other countries. Now that most of the spying secrets are out, many foreign companies will be looking for alternatives to the software they have been relying on for so long. Linux and open source software will be the big winner in most cases and Microsoft will be hurt the most. More and more countries will put efforts forth to build their own operating systems by customizing distributions of Linux to suit their needs.
1. Virtual reality will be awesome, and niche. I wish I could say it would take off and I’m very excited for the Oculus Rift, but I don’t see many people outside of hardcore, single player gamers adopting it. Real adoption will happen in 2015-2016 when it’s wireless, cheaper, and works with consoles. I look forward to the future of virtual reality not only for games though, I also think it’s a great way to watch a movie assuming the headphones will support surround sound.
2. I predicted in 2012 that Nintendo would struggle and I still think that’ll be the case. This year I also think that Sony will have a hard time shifting from a hardware provider to a software and services company. In order to make the PS4 great and lasting they need to provide solid services and I don’t think they have the development abilities to do so.
3. Apple will get into games in a big way with a new Apple TV, first party gaming hardware, and better game center integration. Apples efforts will make everything Google has done look completely worthless, if it hasn’t already, and Google will scramble to create a better gaming platform. In reality though, Google doesn’t care and will just leave the gaming to third parties which will all suck.
1. Self driving cars will hit a wall. While this is mostly figuratively speaking, although I do predict there will be the first accident involving a self driving car while the car is driving this year, I think the real “wall” autonomous vehicles will hit is legislation. Even though some states have already approved the use of the cars, there is still a long way to go before someone can buy one. There are other hurdles like re-writing laws, adapting insurance, and building better/smarter streets. Google will probably try to build their own cars but I think China will make a big move to make their own self driving cars probably by ripping off other companies technology.
2. I think 2014 will make it harder for non-skilled workers to find a job. There will probably be two or three big companies making 99% automated factories. The factories will need maintenance workers for the machines but won’t need the hundreds of assembly workers they once needed. Think how much you already interact with non-humans day to day. When was the last time you interacted with a person to fill up your gas tank? How many times have you used self checkout at the store? When was the last time you talked to a person when calling a support number? All of these things are unskilled work that have now been replaced with machines. 2014 will expand that to many new areas and make it hard for people who don’t have experience, to get experience.
3. Payment reform will begin but won’t be mainstream yet. It seems like everyone I talk to is waiting for mobile payments. It won’t happen with NFC, sorry Android fans, and geofencing is too inaccurate. Apple won’t get into the mobile payment business until 2015 (with iBeacon 2) so this year will be another year of mixed products like Google Wallet, Coin, Bitcoin, and Square. No one will win and consumers who adopt one will lose because the standard will eventually be Apple’s solution. They will release it in 2015 and allow compatible devices (a.k.a. Android) to use it. I don’t want it to be true, but that’s what I think will happen.
That’s all my predictions for 2014, do you have any you’d like to make? Leave a note in the comments if you think I’m right or wrong.
Thanks to David Hepworth for the banner picture.