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What is an anti-prediction? It’s something that won’t happen and here are 9 things that won’t happen in 2015.

(1) No Yahoo spending spree (Yahoo hoards its cash).

Fresh from gaining over $9 billion from selling its Alibaba stake in the Alibaba IPO, CEO Marissa Mayer promised to return $5 billion back to shareholders in the form of dividends or stock buybacks.  That still leaves more than $4 billion for Mayer to go on a shopping spree with.  She won’t.  Yes she’ll spend a few pennies, maybe some dimes, but no billion dollar acquisitions. 

(2) No delivery by drone.

Despite Amazon’s promise of drone delivery in our future, it won’t be here in 2015.

(3) No 5G replacement for LTE or WiFi.

4G is 100 megabits per second for your mobile device and 1 gigabit per second data transfer for your fixed device.  5G has to be faster than this.  WiFi can go 150 megabits per second and still falls into the 4G category.  Right now we’ve reached a plateau of bandwidth with no technology emerging in 2015 as a successor.

(4) No growth in smartphone screen size.

Six inches is enough.  We’ve been seeing screen size inflation where screens have trended to the six inch size.  The new iPhone 6 Plus boasts a 5.5 inch screen size, while the larger Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet has a 5.7 inch screen size.  We’ve finally reached the limit.  Screen sizes won’t grow.  Phablets are close to 6 inch screen sizes and smartphones to 5 inch screen sizes.  Both will finally stay at those sizes.

(5) No rise in e-book prices.

The Amazon-Hachette dispute pitted a publisher (Hachette) against an e-book maker and publisher (Amazon).  Amazon wants to keep e-book prices low so users will love their Kindle e-reader.  Hachette does not want to cannibalize expensive print book sales to cheap e-book sales.  I see Hachette raising prices of their e-books on the Kindle, but not other publishers.  Raising e-book prices will also reduce sales of said e-books, although Hachette’s goals is to prevent potential print buyers from buying a cheaper e-book instead.  Ultimately Hachette will fail in its quest for higher e-book prices and competitors will force e-book prices to remain roughly where they are.

(6) No Tizen adoption.

Tizen is an open source Linux-based operating system and software suite.  Intel has put a big effort into supporting Tizen.  Samsung used Tizen for its latest Galaxy Gear smartwatch.  Both Intel and Samsung, hardware manufacturers, would like to see open source software become popular as they chafe at having their hardware fate in the hands of Google and Android.  Too bad.  Tizen is just too far behind to catch up and there’s no incentive for developers to adopt it.  Android will continue to be the gateway for Intel, Samsung and other hardware manufacturers to consumers.

(7) No Snapchat IPO.

Late in 2013 both Facebook and Google offered up to $4 billion to buyout Snapchat.  Feeling their oats Snapchat turned both down.  Snapchat is said to have about 100 million users.  Turning down the big money from other big companies really only leaves Snapchat with one option: make an IPO of its own.  The problem for Snapchat is that the text messaging bubble is about to burst.  Facebook hasn’t quite cornered the text message market with about one billion users (500 million Facebook Messenger and 500 million Whatsapp users), but it has become the 800 pound gorilla of text messaging.

How can Snapchat generate revenue to paint a rosy picture to investors?  It has two choices: (1) charge users or (2) show users ads and sell the ads.  I don’t see Snapchat charging users and I’m sure users would jump to Facebook messaging if it did.  That leaves ads and Snapchat is starting to introduce ads.  Can a text messaging service make money off ads?  Yes and Facebook will, but Snapchat will be hard-pressed to demonstrate worth for a large IPO valuation off ad revenue in 2015.  Turning down $4 billion from Google sets the bar for what a Snapchat IPO has to achieve and there just won’t be nearly enough ad revenue to justify that size of an IPO.  $4 billion over 100 million users = $40 per user and Snapchat won’t generate $40 of revenue per user for quite some time.

In the end Snapchat may really regret turning down that $4 billion buyout offer from Google.

(8) No smartphone OS marketshare rearrangement.

Today it’s:  Android 84%, iOS 12%, Windows 3%.  This will stay the same plus or minus 5%.

(9) No Google Glass for the masses.

Google Glass fascinated tech audiences everywhere when it was introduced, but there was a backlash. Do we really want someone taking our photo, recording us on video or looking us up online while we’re chatting with them?  Bars began banning Glass.  Google has expanded who can buy Glass, but kept the price at a whopping $1500 despite a sub-$200 parts price list.  Clearly Glass could be an ubiquitous $300 tech toy for all of us, but one that would use a vast amount of cloud services.  Is that why Google isn’t pushing it?  Don’t know, but I do know we won’t see Glass or a capable imitation at an affordable price in 2015.

The press is also becoming skeptical of Google Glass.

So there you have nine things that won’t happen in 2015.

In October 2013 I made predictions for what would happen with mobile technology in 2014.   You can find them here.  How did they pan out you ask?  Let’s see.

(1) Blackberry spins off QNX.

Wrong.  QNX is a small cash cow and Blackberry is in the auto industry because of them.  Ford chose QNX and thus Blackberry over Microsoft for their in-car tech.  QNX powered the new and too late Blackberry OS 10.  QNX is an embedded operating system vendor and has good products for niche markets.  Blackberry needed their help to replace their archaic OS 7, but Blackberry’s subscribers peaked at 80 million in 2012 and has been in decline since.  Blackberry is inevitably headed towards divesting itself of making hardware and thus needing to build software operating systems.  That makes QNX irrelevant and expendable.  QNX will be sold to raise cash, but Blackberry still has $2.5 billion to burn through, so the need to sell QNX is not there yet.  The logic of spinning out QNX is clear, it just didn’t happen in 2014.

(2) Chinese tech firm buys wreckage of Blackberry.

Wrong.  Related to (1) I judged Blackberry’s cash position to be worse off than it has turned out to be.  Since Blackberry has a few bucks it’s not going to be sold off.  CEO John Chen will stay independent while he can.  Right now the strategy appears to be to use Blackberry’s device management capability, i.e. the ability of an IT department to configure your device on the fly, as a lever into businesses.

(3a) You’ll see an Android tablet at the supermarket checkout.

Right.  I did buy an Android tablet for my daughter off a Facebook ad for $59 and I have spotted Android tablets at checkout line shelves.   I didn’t buy it, but for about 50 bucks I could have added another cheap Android tablet to my pile-o-tech in my house.  With the holiday shopping season coming, more cheap tablets will be on sale everywhere.

(3b) Emerging cheap single purpose screens show up in stores.

Wrong.  The tablets are cheap now, cheaper than some series collections of DVDs, but no one has put two and two together to make one.  Not yet.

(4) WiFi-only phones emerge.

Wrong.  WiFi continues its unstoppable march to ubiquity, but we’re using apps and applications instead of dedicated devices for WiFi calling.  The new and interesting Amazon Echo may point the way for a dedicated WiFi-connected device we talk to and perhaps make voice calls with as well.

(5) nVidia exits mobile CPU market.

Wrong.  nVidia GPUs are still the bread, butter and table with CPUs being only a thin tablecloth.  Still Tegra CPUs are not winning in mobile, most of the gains are coming from the automotive market.  Despite the lack of mobile traction, the Tegra processor line looks like it’s here to stay.

(6) Intel beefing up on LTE will hurt Qualcomm.

Wrong.  QCOM has been treading water this year in a stock market up over 1500 points this year (Dow Jones industrials).  Qualcomm delivered revenue disappointment for 2014.  Analysts mention Apple making their own CPUs as hurting Qualcomm.  Samsung also makes their own CPUs, but uses Qualcomm ones for the US market, probably due to intellectual property issues here.  So while Qualcomm may have peaked as a company, it’s not due to Intel arriving in their mobile market.  The real culprit is more vertical integration by the smartphone makers themselves.

(7) Wearables will be worn by early adopters but shunned by consumers.

Right.  Wearables are still a technology in search of a mass market.  Anyone can buy Google Glass now, but at $1500 a pop, you probably won’t.

(8) Personal life-logging will start a new trend.

Right.  One place wearable tech has landed is in tracking your fitness or lack thereof.  Apple launched HealthKit at WWDC this year, Google launched Google Fit, Samsung launched the Gear Fit wearable.  This prediction has already come true and it has started with your health.

(9) States will start designating texting areas on roads (a la New York).

Wrong.  If New York traffic fatalities decline, then other states will adopt this, but inertia is keeping texting-while-driving going.

(10) Smartphones evolve towards always-on, always-recording (voice, photos, location).

Right.  The new paradigm is backing up all your photos, videos, texts and everything else to the cloud.

(11) HTC put on life support by market and Taiwanese government.

Right.  Last May HTC reported a 27% drop in revenue.  HTC revenue peaked in 2011 and has been declining since.  HTC is still on the razor’s edge of profitability.

(12) Debut of disposable feature phones introduces disposable tech that is coming.

Wrong.  You can sell your old smartphone on eBay and you’re still not throwing that tech away.  That means the price of phones is still too high for you to throw it away.

(13) Samsung does not have the top selling smartphone in 2014.

Right  The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus dethroned Samsung and its Galaxy S5 as the reigning king of smartphone sales.

To recap for my 2014 Mobile Predictions mid-year review that’s:

So 8 wrong, 6 right, not a good record except perhaps as a .429 baseball batting average.

Check back at PDXMobile for mobile predictions for 2015 soon.

In October 2013 I made 12 anti-predictions about what wouldn’t happen in 2014.  What did or did not happen?  Let’s see.

(1) No big mobile payments solution.

Right.  Apple has tried to solve this problem with Apple Pay, but this is still rolling out and has hit some bumps with Rite Aid and CVS disabling Apple Pay from working in their stores.  Whether these are minor setbacks or indications of a patchwork payment system emerging is unclear now.

(2) No carrier consolidation.

Right.  Sprint wanted to buy T-Mobile, and still would like to.  AT&T also wanted to take over T-Mobile, but the Obama Justice Department torpedoed that merger (a bad decision in my judgement).  Right now the landscape is frozen waiting for a Republican President in 2016 who will be hands off and therefore merger friendly.

(3) No iOS smartphone marketshare gain.

Right.  As the smartphone OS marketshare table at this link shows, Apple is now at about 12% smartphone marketshare.  The lack of a big screen really hurt the iPhone and let Samsung grow huge by filling that market gap.  The question now is whether iOS can hang on to even a 12% marketshare.  There is a school of thought that Windows Phone marketshare growth will come at Apple’s expense disproportionately and I tend to agree with this analysis.  Google’s cloud services are so seductive it’s hard to switch away from Android where you have the best Google experience, but you might ditch Apple since you’re only invested in an iPhone or iPad device.

(4) No big HTML5 adoption.

Right.  Mozilla is trying to pivot from making the most open web browser to making the most open smartphone operating system.  Considering the vast difference between those two tasks, Mozilla is actually making decent progress with its Flame smartphone for $170.  However there’s also a vast difference with creating something technically and getting a large segment of the market to adopt it.  Just ask Microsoft.

(5) No big new social network to rival Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

Right.  The big boys have gotten bigger, Snapchat is still playing hard-to-get and may get a comeuppance if the text messaging bubble pops.  Text messaging apps have been dis-intermediating carriers, who charge for text messages while the apps generally don’t.  Facebook is solidifying its position as the text messaging leader with the $19 billion buyout of WhatsApp and its own Messenger app.  Facebook text messaging now reaches over A BILLION users.

Ello is the new social network to watch, seeing a niche in an ad-free version of Facebook.  Facebook is now very polluted with ads, but it is also polluted with all the status updates we want to see too.  How Ello will make money without ads IF it gets traction is still unanswered.

(6) No let-up in technology patent lawsuits.

Right.  Nothing but good news for lawyers and bad news here for you and me.

(7) No Amazon or Google bricks and mortar stores.

Right.  There are rumors of bricks and mortar stores for both tech giants, but none as of yet.

(8) No Yahoo big win.

Right.  The only thing approaching a big win was Yahoo buying out Tumblr for $1.1 billion, but that’s still shoring up the weaknesses Yahoo has more than winning in the market.  CEO Marissa Mayer has been taking a very Google-like approach of buying small fries for engineering talent and polishing up some existing assets like Flickr.  Investors want to know how she will spend the $9 billion in cash from the Alibaba IPO (which Yahoo had a big ownership stake in).   The word was to return $5 billion in either stock buybacks or outright dividends.  That still leaves a pile to spend.  I see Mayer swinging for the fences and wanting to try something big, but there was no big win in the 2014 acquisitions.  Yahoo is still treading water in the new mobile world.

(9) No 5G technology in sight.

Right.  The Artemis pWave antenna is interesting, but not available yet and the increasing ubiquity of WiFi begs for some innovation to speed up all our downloads.

(10) No smartphone from Amazon.

Wrong.  Amazon is still experimenting and its Fire smartphone was something I did not see.  It’s not faring well in the market now, but I expect Amazon will stick with it a few years so we’ll be checking in on new versions of it for some time to come.

(11) No buyout for Foursquare.

Right.  No one has really figured out how to handle the social aspect of location.  There has been Loopt and Gowalla, both bought out and engineering talent repurposed to other tasks, so the question is if Foursquare was heading down the same dead-end road.

Foursquare must know its just burning venture capital cash with that strategy and it spun out the check-in functionality to an app named Swarm.  Foursquare itself is trying to use its database to become another version of Yelp, to have user ratings on places of interest, presumably with ads.

Foursquare is looking like one company where venture capitalists will take it on the chin and lose the bulk of their investment.  I just don’t see a big player buying them out.  The feeling is that Foursquare and its game mechanics for location announcements (mayorships of venues) was just a fad.  There still some unsolved business out there for location smartphone use, but Foursquare like Loopt and Gowalla before them, isn’t finding it.

(12) No new chairman for Microsoft.

Wrong.  Bill Gates did step aside, at least a small step aside.  Microsoft got a new CEO which was widely predicted given their late migration to a mobile strategy and actually the mobile traction Microsoft does have is due to buying out the Nokia phone division which was the brainchild of former CEO Steve Ballmer.

Of course Chairmen of the Board don’t matter.  Their new CEO Satya Nadella came from Microsoft’s own cloud services which indicates the direction Microsoft sees things going and probably the emphasis for their company going forward.

So the total was 10 rights and 2 wrongs or an 83% correct anti-prediction score.  If only my own personal investing was so good.

Check in to PDXmobile soon for next year’s anti-predictions.

 

For the past six months there has been a public relations tug of war going on reflecting a serious business negotiation.

Hachette Book Group (HBG)  has been trying to negotiate a higher price for e-books on Amazon.  HBG is owned by Hachette Livre the largest French publisher and third largest in the world.  This is no small matter for the consumers of e-books everywhere.

Publishers have been grumbling about Amazon having a maximum $9.99 e-book price for some time.  In 2012 publishers worked with Apple to try to make the iPad a favored delivery vehicle for their premium e-books.  The U.S. Justice Department accused publishers and Apple of an illegal price fixing scheme.  My own opinion at the time (and still is) that the Justice Department action was premature.  E-books are still an infant industry, growing wildly yes, but I believe it would have been better to let the business world sort out pricing and distribution on its own.

The upshot of the 2012 Justice Department action was to make Amazon a defacto monopoly for e-books.  E-books make up about 30% of all book sales and Amazon has two-thirds of the e-book market.

About six months ago Hachette decided to publicize its disagreement with Amazon to generate market sympathy for its position of wanting to charge more for e-books on Amazon.  Certainly I don’t sympathize with Hachette wanting to charge a higher price for e-books and I support Amazon as a retailer seeking the best deal possible for its own customers.  Of course I believe the government should stay out of this business too and this is just classical buyer and supply chain haggling.

There have been a number of competing press releases between Hachette and Amazon on who’s right in this e-book pricing tug-of-war.  The New York Times has reported on this public relations war, in fact over-reported on it, but today there was an interesting tidbit in their article.

The disclosure was that 80% of Hachette e-book titles are already at the $9.99 price.

These are likely the backlist titles and that means that Hachette is seeking a premium price for 20% of its e-books, no doubt the recent and better selling titles.  Why fight so hard to push up price on 20% of your titles?  Especially when a higher e-book price means you will sell fewer e-books?

I believe Hachette is worried about e-books cannibalizing their paper printed book sales and so wants to ensure they get an equivalent amount of revenue from e-books.  While e-book sales have grown to 30% of overall book sales, printed book sales are in decline.

So for Hachette this is about the existence of their business model as customers switch to e-book purchases.  For Amazon this is about getting the best deal possible for their customers.  Amazon has stuck to its guns and held firm in the public relations battle.  I only see two possible outcomes here.

(1) Hachette caves and agrees to the $9.99 pricing for e-book versions of its hot sellers.  This will cause cannibalization and ultimately revenue decline for Hachette.  It’s not quite slow death, but Hachette Book Group will have to become a smaller organization.

(2) Hachette rejects Amazon and does not distribute its e-books with Amazon.  This will prevent e-books that cannibalize its print books, but will also lock Hachette out of two thirds of the only growing area in books.  This might be slow death.

What hasn’t been discussed very much is that publishers are becoming disintermediated in the new e-book model.  The distributors of e-readers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple) are very much in charge of what is available for potential readers and all of them let authors submit e-books directly to them.  We’re in a new age of independent author as publisher and old time publishers will find their businesses just plain difficult.

The iPhone has grown stale and old.  So how do you reinvigorate a product that lead a mobile revolution and is now the corporate cash cow?

If we look to Microsoft, their approach to this problem was to simply copy whatever innovator was getting market traction.  Not just Internet Explorer imitating Netscape, but even, maybe especially during MS-DOS days when  smartdrv replaced PC-Kwik as a disk cache and the Mace Utilities disk defragger was replaced by Microsoft’s own.  Imitating successful market leaders is virtually in Microsoft’s DNA.

We always expected Apple to be different.  We always wanted Apple’s definition of a new product, not a rehash of other companies successes.  However it’s pretty clear from today’s Apple event that Apple, for the time being, has run out of ideas.  So borrowing the oft-used strategy from Microsoft and other large companies, Apple has imitated the mobile tech innovators.

Today Apple introduced the 4.7 inch screen-sized iPhone 6 and the 5.5 inch screen-sized iPhone 6 Plus phablet.  Clearly these are aimed to be direct competitors to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy Note phablet.  What was striking was how much of analyst predictions came true:

  1. Two new iPhone models. Check.
  2. Bigger screen sizes.  Check.
  3. One 4.7 inch screen and one 5.5 inch screen.  Check.
  4. NFC.  Check.
  5. New smartwatch.  Check.

Since Apple manufactures in Asia and really since Apple manufactures so many units, it’s pretty neigh impossible to keep a lid on what’s in the new products coming down the pike.  The only thing analysts flubbed was the inclusion of sapphire glass which is not on the new iPhone 6, but is on the new Apple Watch.

When I look over the new offerings from Apple I don’t see any reason an iPhone 5 user would upgrade or an Android user would switch.  You can get all of these features on your Samsung, LG or HTC phone or Galaxy Gear or Moto smartwatch.  So to me this looks like just treading water in the marketplace.  I don’t see any respite from the relentless increase in Android smartphone marketshare (now up to 85% as reported here).

The new Apple products will keep existing Apple users however, so I don’t see much downside either.  I guess we can’t get a revolution every year from Apple.   We’ve gotten spoiled by the four recent Apple revolutions:

  1. Macintosh computer in 1984 (okay not so recent).
  2. iPod in 2001.
  3. iPhone in 2007.
  4. iPad in 2010.

I just don’t see 2014 being remembered for the Apple Watch.  It MIGHT be remembered for the introduction of Near Field Communication mobile payments that really worked, but it’s too early to tell if that will work out.  The NFC payments in iPhone 6 will be the potential game changer to keep an eye on.  If it does take off then every marketeer will be sending coupons through Apple iTunes.

For a price.

Where O where art thou Microsoft?

On Thursday July 17, 2014 Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced layoffs of 18,000 workers or 14% of Microsoft’s 128,000 workforce.  Most of those layoffs, 12,500 of them, were in the recently acquired Nokia phone division.

Well mergers mean layoffs due to “synergy” which is management buzzspeak for layoffs.  However many are pouring over these numbers to try to understand where Microsoft is going.  Here are my thoughts on that subject.

(1) Microsoft is abandoning non-Windows devices.
Goodby Nokia Asha and Nokia X Android devices.  Another way to say this is that Microsoft is focusing more on Windows devices.

(2) Microsoft is shutting down manufacturing sites.
This means the acquired Nokia group can only make a few devices now.  This rules out a Samsung-like strategy of proliferating lots of different devices, say with different screen sizes, to see what sticks.

(3) Really this is a prune-the-deadwood layoff.
Outside of the Nokia group, the 5,500 person layoff was actually fewer than the former CEO Steve Ballmer layoff in 2009 of 5,800 workers.  So this looks like more trimming around the edges with a 5%-ish layoff for core Microsoft employees.

(4) Google is the enemy, so do what they’re doing.
Google has more market cap and less than half the employees of Microsoft.  Google is the enemy via a process of elimination: (a) Apple is big and will always command a 10% impossibly loyal fanbase, so no point in assailing that.  (b) Facebook is big, but not really an enterprise business.  (c) Amazon is mooning us locally in Seattle, but only interesting as far as AWS and S3 are concerned.

(5) Grow the cloud and let 1000 clients bloom.
Nadella was chosen from cloud services and I’m sure understands Microsoft’s strengths and weaknesses there.  From the cloud’s point-of-view everything’s a client and it almost doesn’t matter what the client is.  There’s a connection at a certain bandwidth and you serve up what you can given the throughput you have.  Clients don’t matter individually, only collectively so that they are sucking and supplying data from and to the cloud.

Actually I’m not sure there’s much difference with what former CEO Steve Ballmer would be doing either, despite the “devices and services” strategy he outlined.  Sure Ballmer acquired the Nokia phone division, but I’m sure he’d gut them too.  Microsoft is about devices, but it’s always been about someone ELSE building and selling them.

Nadella’s memo on the layoff has the line: “We will build tools to be more predictive, personal and helpful.”  Generic, throwaway, but pretty much an indication of making your data available to you (stored conveniently in the cloud) and some kind of logic on patterns in it.  Perhaps Ballmer would care more about the devices, but I’m not so sure.

The difference I see between Microsoft and Google is that Google always tries to do as much in the cloud as possible before relenting to client-side computing.  I kind of see Android as a last resort that the browser was just not capable enough and creating Chrome to grow the browser where needed.  Microsoft started with languages and then operating environment (DOS) before operating system (Windows).  Microsoft has a history of rich client computing.  Google seems to come to that grudgingly.

So where are we?

I think Microsoft is going to replay the Windows vs. OS/2 strategy.  Back in the day OS/2 was very advanced, but pretty much closely held by one vendor (IBM of course).  Microsoft got competing PC makers to adopt Windows and avoid OS/2.  From Microsoft’s playbook, 2014 is 1984 all over again.  What’s 30 years between tech friends?

Today I think Microsoft sees Google in the IBM role and wants to isolate Android as much as possible and compete with Google in seducing OEM manufacturers to adopt Windows Phone.  Well why didn’t they do that already, you ask?  Nokia was the only vendor to choose Windows Phone enthusiastically and that was because a former Microsoft executive became CEO of Nokia.  Windows Phone was waaaay behind Android technologically when Stephen Elop took over Nokia.  Today Windows Phone is much closer in capability to Android.  Yes there’s still an “app gap”, but it has closed sufficiently not to be a marketing problem to OEMs.

Why would an OEM choose Windows Phone when the market hasn’t?  Well it’s about beating up Google.  Yes you can get Android for free, the Android AOSP (Android Open Source Project) code, but you don’t get the Google goodies like the Play Store, Maps and the Chrome browser.  Those must be licensed from Google separately.  OEMs would like better terms from Google on licensing that code.  That’s where Microsoft comes in.

Microsoft can offer Windows Phone on more generous licensing terms than Google Android.  That accomplishes several things: (1) Microsoft gets a notch for Windows Phone, (2) Google loses one, (3) a Windows Phone device gets built.

The last point is key.  Microsoft can undercut Google with OEMs and get Windows Phone devices into the wild.  Then it’s all a matter of user adoption, will users choose Windows Phone?  If so, Microsoft is back in the OEM software business.

So look for the Microsoft full court press on Windows Phone and Windows devices.  First Microsoft must sell OEMs, but they will get devices built by them, especially now that they’ve reduced the Nokia division structurally.  I think the Nokia group in Microsoft will emulate the Nexus device strategy of Google and make some reference devices, but the OEMs will be allowed more experimentation than Windows PC makers were allowed in the past.

The good news for Microsoft is that users tend to replace their smartphones every two years when their contract is up.  Since there’s still high smartphone turnover, there’s a chance to get that consumer to pick you and Microsoft is still betting on that chance.

Last October I made my predictions for what would happen with mobile technology in 2014.   You can find them here.  How have those been panning out?  Let’s see.

(1) Blackberry spins off QNX.

In-play.  Hasn’t happened yet and there has been news about Blackberry remaining in the auto industry last February when Ford announced they were choosing Blackberry (really QNX) over Microsoft for their in-car tech.  Still when Blackberry needs to raise cash, they haven’t yet, expect QNX to go back into the business wilderness.

(2) Chinese tech firm buys wreckage of Blackberry.

In-play.  Kind of related to (1) Blackberry is still in its death spiral and needs a larger sugar daddy to recycle its technology.  There is some security play with email they can try for the enterprise with their BBN mail servers, but I don’t think that’s enough.  I think the Chinese would be interested in getting some western legal protection with Blackberry’s patent trove so we could still see this by year’s end.

(3a) You’ll see an Android tablet at the supermarket checkout.

In-play.  I haven’t yet, but I did buy an Android tablet for my daughter off a Facebook ad for $59.  For all its cheapness this tablet was great for playing YouTube videos, my daughter’s favorite app, and has let me pry my Nexus 7 out of her hands.  $59 is still too high for the supermarket checkout, but there’s the holiday shopping season coming and more cheaper tech should arrive then.

(3b) Emerging cheap single purpose screens show up in stores.

In-play.  Yes I had to buy House of Cards season two on DVDs, but I would of rather paid the same price for a knock-off Android tablet with a license key inside so I could stream death and politics to my couch.

(4) WiFi-only phones emerge.

Doubtful.  We’re seeing the growth of WiFi devices with Google’s Chromecast and other TV add-ons, but smartphones seem stuck in incremental software updateland.

(5) nVidia exits mobile CPU market.

Doubtful.  nVidia is doing well this year, but on the strength of its core competence graphics chips for gaming and surprisingly the mobile Tegra chip has found some traction in automotive electronics.  All this bodes for a longer lifespan for their processor line, even as non-gaming mobile devices shrink in their customer portfolio.  So it’s looking like their market exit from mobile will be delayed, but I still expect it.

(6) Intel beefing up on LTE will hurt Qualcomm.

In-play.  QCOM is up less than 10% for the year, but still up, so no real harm yet.  Intel expects to ship 40 million chips for tablets in 2014 for 15% to 20% of that market which would have certainly been mostly Qualcomm’s except for Intel.  INTC has gone up over 10% for the year thus far, reflecting some of this optimism that Intel is finally finding footing in mobile devices.

While Intel and Qualcomm duke it out for cellular customers, really Qualcomm just dominating and beating up Intel somewhat less, the next big thing coming down the pike is the Internet of Things.  The wireless secret of the Internet of Things is that things will be connected by WiFi, not cellular and WiFi is a much more open and competitive hardware landscape than the over-IPed and over-litigated bandwidths of cellular.

This means both Qualcomm and Intel will suffer from the migration away from cellular towards WiFi technologies.  As for this prediction, it is definitely in-play.  Frankly Intel had nowhere to go but up in mobile and Qualcomm being so dominant had no other place to go than down, considering a major competitor arrived in the space.

(7) Wearables will be worn by early adopters but shunned by consumers.

In-play.  You can now buy Google Glass $1500, but you won’t want to.  For that amount of cash get a real camera, like the Sony a6000, and use the rest of the loot to run off on vacation to take photos.  Wearables are still a technology in search of a mass market.

(8) Personal life-logging will start a new trend.

Yep.  One place wearable tech has landed is in tracking your fitness or lack thereof.  Apple launched HealthKit at WWDC this year, Google launched Google Fit, Samsung launched the Gear Fit wearable.  This prediction has already come true and it has started with your health.

(9) States will start designating texting areas on roads (a la New York).

Doubtful.  I thought other states would follow New York’s lead, prodded by the insurance industry, but I just misunderestimated how slow state governments move.

(10) Smartphones evolve towards always-on, always-recording (voice, photos, location).

Yep.  More and more Runkeeper-style apps are recording everything about us.  Google Photos is backing up all your photos, recording every photo and video you shoot, heck even making up stories about you using them.

(11) HTC put on life support by market and Taiwanese government.

In-play.  Last May HTC reported a 27% drop in revenue, still in the black, still treading water, still in trouble.  In the early days of Android HTC made Google’s first Android phones (G1 and G2) and things looked rosy, but Samsung’s ascendancy came at the price of crushing HTC.  LG too is now rising in Android and HTC is getting the brunt of this brutal competition.  Rumors are that HTC is making a new Google Nexus device.  This is sorely needed by a great tech company that is losing in the market now, but even if it does go into the red, I expect the government in Taipei to prop up this jewel of Taiwan technology.

(12) Debut of disposable feature phones introduces disposable tech that is coming.

Doubtful.  The trend has been to migrate older smartphone designs down to become the user uberfeaturephone.  So instead of a cheap and dumb, thus cost-reduced, featurephone, you’re getting a cheap, smart and subsidized featurephone.  Charging for data is just too lucrative and who really wants to talk to anyone anymore?  I still see more disposable tech coming, but not in featurephones this year.

(13) Samsung does not have the top selling smartphone in 2014.

In-play.  The Samsung Galaxy S5 is King of Smartphones today, but the iPhone 6 is yet to be heard from.

To recap for my 2014 Mobile Predictions mid-year review that’s:

In-play, In-play, In-play, In-play, Doubtful, Doubtful, In-play, In-play, Yep, Doubtful, Yep,  In-play, Doubtful, In-play.

So 2 Yep, 4 Doubtful and 8 In-Play.

Check back at year’s end when PDXmobile will have the final tally on how predictions for this year fared.

Last October I made 12 anti-predictions about what wouldn’t happen in 2014.  How have those panned out?  Let’s take them one at a time.

(1) No big mobile payments solution.

In-play.  So far, so broke.  There is no really big, one smartphone fits all, solution for the mobile payments problem.  I can’t buy at a bricks and mortar store with my phone, though I’m sure someday I will.

(2) No carrier consolidation.

In-play.  With Verizon and AT&T duking it out for number one, the question is would any of the other players, meaning Sprint and T-Mobile, consolidate to compete?  Well with the money of Japan’s Softbank, who now owns Sprint, there is an attempt to buy T-Mobile and consolidate the number 3 and 4 carriers.  This MIGHT happen, but only if the Obama administration FCC allows it and that is not a done deal.  This one could go either way.

(3) No iOS smartphone marketshare gain.

In-play.  As the smartphone OS marketshare table at this link shows, Apple was at 21% marketshare in 2012-Q4 and dropped to 18% marketshare in 2013-Q4.  iOS is sinking in worldwide marketshare, although treading water in the Apple-loyal US market.  The lack of a big screen has really hurt the iPhone and analysts are predicting Apple will provide one this year, but that’s just a prediction and not mine.  iOS is not going away, but it’s not winning either.

(4) No big HTML5 adoption.

In-play.  Mozilla is trying to push HTML5 into the mobile world with it’s new Firefox OS smartphone, but their organization got derailed this year by the Brendan Eich controversy.  The problem remains: will there be an open source winner in the mobile world?  HTML5 holds the most promise, but it’s still a promise not a reality as we all move from the browser to apps.

(5) No big new social network to rival Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

In-play.  Snapchat was the darling of last year, spurning a big Facebook $2 billion buyout bid.  Snapchat is approaching 30 million users and is riding the text messaging wave that is dis-intermediating carriers.  Carriers charge for text messages, but apps do not and that has pushed Snapchat and WhatsApp to valuable heights.  Facebook bought WhatsApp, and it hopes the nearly half billion users of it, for $19 billion.  So outside of Snapchat we’re seeing consolidation.  Snapchat is holding out, but will it rival Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp or will it fold?   This prediction is still in-play.

(6) No let-up in technology patent lawsuits.

Yep, but Apple and Google agreed not to sue each other in an effort to fend off patent trolls, but the lawsuit follies continue.

(7) No Amazon or Google bricks and mortar stores.

In-play.  No stores for either yet.

(8) No Yahoo big win.

In-play.  Yahoo has been making the right small moves.  Flickr was updated and even blogging site Tumblr was acquired for $1.1 billion.  A recent partnership with Yelp, who spurned a Google buyout offer, may also help Yahoo, but there’s no big win yet.  Yahoo still awaits the fruits of the Alibaba IPO which will net Yahoo billions of dollars, perhaps tens of billions of dollars.  That will be a big win, depending on what they do with the money.  Will the billions be returned to shareholders as dividends?  Perhaps some, but I’m sensing CEO Marissa Mayer will hoard some cash to keep playing buyout bingo and that means an uncertain bet on acquisitions.

(9) No 5G technology in sight.

In-play.  The closest thing to poke up here was the Artemis pWave antenna, but there aren’t enough details on that yet to know if it’s serious.

(10) No smartphone from Amazon.

Doubtful.  My prediction here is doubtful because the New York Times ran a story on Sunday that Amazon will introduce a smartphone THIS WEEK.  I saw plenty of tablet, but no phone in Amazon so we’ll see if this one holds up or if Amazon does enter the smartphone fray.

(11) No buyout for Foursquare.

In-play.  None of the big players have stepped up to buy Foursquare yet.  Foursquare has taken nearly nine figures of venture capital making them an expensive purchase, one that only Google, Microsoft, Facebook or perhaps Yahoo could consider.  Foursquare itself is trying to figure out a way to earn money through advertising and has broken out the check-in aspect of its app to another app called Swarm.  I doubt Foursquare will transform itself into another version of Yelp successfully, but it is trying.

(12) No new chairman for Microsoft.

Doubtful.  This is a tricky one to call.  Microsoft did name a new CEO as expected, but both Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates remain on the board of directors.  Gates did step down as Chairman, but not off the board.  So on that level this prediction is wrong, but did Gates step down TEMPORARILY while he micromanages new CEO Satya Nadella or is he really putting one foot out the door?  I think I’ll have to cave on this prediction, but the year’s not over yet.

So there you have it, out of my dozen won’ts only two are suspected of becoming wills at this mid-year review.  10 out of 12 is not a bad batting average if that’s how this pans out.  Check in to PDXmobile at year’s end for another review and next year’s anti-predictions.

 

 

Wearable technology is still in its infancy, but the folks over at GetNarrative.com came up with an interesting device.  To fund their idea of a wearable camera, they started out on Kickstarter and delivered the product.  Their product is a small camera you clip onto your shirt, or in my case a lanyard that I wear around my neck.  Then wherever you go and at the rate of one photo per 30 seconds, a photographic record of your travels is recorded into the clip.

To keep costs minimal the clip has no wireless connectivity.  That means you have to sync it to a PC to remove the photos using a USB cable.  There’s enough memory to take about 8000 photos.  Since a photo is taken every 30 seconds that means about 4000 minutes of photo-taking is available, or roughly 60 hours.  The clip doesn’t take photos if you place it face down onto a flat surface.  So if you don’t want to take your computer on the trip, how do you bring your Narrative Clip along  and take only relevant photos?

The missing ingredient for me was a way to transport the clip to my desired destination.  I decided to spend $1.49 to build a travel kit for the clip.  Here are the materials I used to build a Clip travel kit.

I spent $1.00 at a Dollar Tree store buying a small portrait photo frame.  I spent $0.49 at an art shop buying black construction paper.

Instead of putting a pocket portrait of my sweetheart into the frame, I cut a rectangle of black paper and inserted it into the frame.

This leaves a small photo frame with a black flat surface, perfect for placing the Narrative Clip onto.  Just use a few rubber bands and…

Voila!  An instant travel kit for the Narrative Clip at the price of $1.49.  By placing the Clip face down onto the smooth flat glass surface of the photo frame and onto a black dark image, the Clip won’t take photos of the airplane tray in front of you on your long flight.  Just pack the Clip in your luggage and take it out when you reach your destination.  By not taking photos you also won’t be draining the Clip’s battery, but I do recommend taking the USB cable and a charger with you to keep the Clip fully charged before you wear it.

I just backed a Kickstarter project for a camera that will produce animated GIF file output.  It’s called OTTO and the link is here.

Earlier I had backed the Memeto, now called Narrative, Clip.  The Narrative Clip is a life-logging wearable that takes a photo every 30 seconds.  The link to the Narrative Clip is here.

There is even a DoorBot for smartphones.  You attach the DoorBot to your door and connect to it over WiFi with your smartphone, even if you’re not at home.  Anyone who approaches your door you can see and talk to on your smartphone.  The link to the DoorBot is here.

Big things have been going on with cameras and photos everywhere and not just on smartphones.   The word of the year is #selfie.  What does all of this pervasive photo-snapping mean?

(1) Everyone and I do mean everyone, has a camera and is using it.
If you own a smartphone it has a camera and you are using it.  Even feature phones had cameras, but the data connection on smartphones means cameras are capturing all and exporting it.

(2) The cloud is more than just the global photo archivist, it is now the memory of mankind.
Photos from smartphones are being stored in the cloud and these photos are logging every aspect of our lives and every detail of an event, all events.

(3) We have moved forward from Time Zero of no photographic history or mankind memory.
Now that all things are imaged and stored as data and timestamped, images of all things will be retrievable in any particular chronological ordering.  In a visual sense, mankind’s memory has moved from the subconscious of artistic rendering and sporadic photos to detailed descriptive photos of everything.  Mankind has moved from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age to the Photo Age.  The Information Age was just a blip along the way.

(4) As the visual becomes eternal, we will visualize the non-visual more.
Since seeing will be recorded, remembered and retrieved, the way we will seek to make the non-perceptible real will be to cause it to be seen.  This has long been a scientific tact of producing experiments that leave visual residue, for instance cloud chambers that produced tracks from highly charged particles.  The visible mist produced by particles was indirect evidence of particle existence.

Where pervasive photography is different is that we’ll now want to see a photo or video clip of whatever it is we’re looking for: a ghost, an alien, a new life form.

(5) Writing is a blip on the human path.
We write to communicate where we cannot speak.  As we move to pervasive photographic images we will be left with only speech and pictures.  All text will fall asunder.  That’s hard to imagine today.  Certainly text can convey with brevity what speech requires time and patience.   However it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words and images convey more information than text and even more than most speech.  The future will be humans talking and seeing, but not writing.

So Google Glass is showing us the way of our technological and social evolution.  We will have photos everywhere, taken from everywhere and everytime from Time Zero forward.   We will speak to interact, even with computers.  We will receive information more and more by imagery which transcends language.

It’s not the e-reader that is the death of books.  It’s the camera, the ubiquitous camera.  We want to see all the images.  They tell us so much more. 

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