Mobile Tech Report 2016

Mobile Tech Report 2016 is now available for your Amazon Kindle.  Touch or click the following button:

Amazon.com link

 


With 2015 fast winding to a close, it’s a good time to look ahead, so here goes.

 

(1) Expect a GAMA Drone announcement.

By GAMA I mean Google-Apple-Microsoft-Amazon, the current Fab Four of tech.  One of these four will announce a drone for the masses.  Drones are becoming a huge phenomenon and 2016 will be the year of the drone.  Drones are so big that the FAA just put out Drone Registration Rules where you will have to register the drone you buy.  Over 700,000 drones are expected to be sold this holiday season.

 

(2) 4K HD Blu Ray disc players on store shelves

Look for 4K Blu Ray discs and players that will upscale regular Blu Ray discs to 4K and even downscale 4K Blu Ray discs to play on regular HDTV (but who cares about that?).

 

(3) Google Cardboard is the new Glass

This idea will work.  It’s cheap and will power 3D movies for all.  Glass was torpedoed by privacy concerns since everyone thought that pair of glasses was secretly video recording you and could have been.  Cardboard is a curiosity now, but will be big by the end of 2016 and measure that by the amount of content produced for it.

 

(4) Danger Meters rise

Police now routinely mine crime data to figure out where to go after the bad guys and where to best deploy their cops.  Why can’t consumers do the same to avoid crime-ridden areas?  A Danger Meter is just an extension of analyzing traffic cams for traffic jams.  Bomb threat?  Possible terrorist at large?  Soon there will be an app for that to warn you.

 

(5) Personal Curation Tools

Google Photos is showing the way here with their story-making tool for your photos.  With current digital cameras and smartphone cameras encouraging us to be snap happy and generate tons of photos, we need some way to organize them and Google Stories are a great first step.  We need that curation for other aspects of our digital lives, whether it’s finances, spreadsheets, word processor documents, you name it.  Curating your data and feeding it back to you with some high level analysis will be big in 2016.

 

(6) Video Game daycare

At a local indoor mall where a store should have been was instead a series of lounge chairs, each with a big screen TV and an X-box.  You rented the chair and video game from a counter inside.  The clerk at the counter told me many shoppers dropped off their kids to play games while the parents shopped the mall.  I see this evolving into a full-blown daycare service.

 

(7) Wearable cameras go mainstream

You could always wear a GoPro with some hideous attachment, then Narrative came up with a simple clip-on camera.  This is the direction for a personal body cam.  Yes police will get them, but look for baseball caps with cameras to appear in stores.

 

(8) Amazon Echo teaches you a foreign language

It’s in your home.  You talk to it.  It talks to you.  Soon you will be learning a foreign language from it.  Bonjour!

 

(9) Big data converts low-fi bootlegs to pristine studio sound

All music is either live (as in live performed) or dead (as in no one will pay anything for it).  The iPod became the iPhone which became Pandora.  Since all songs are in the cloud, except what you bootlegged at a concert, you need something to turn your bootlegs into studio version tracks.  Shazam is a music recognition app that can match your bootleg to the cloud, but requires you to PLAY YOUR BOOTLEG to recognize the audio.  With the massive amount of data we now carry in our lives, this process has to be streamlined.  Look for a music service where you upload your bootlegs to the cloud, music tracks are recognized in the background and then you are offered the chance to buy the studio versions of your bootlegs or subscribe to a channel which is the studio versions of your bootlegs.  You could think of this like a Dalek, sterilizing your live version into a clean version.  This will be a way to sell music that you’ve heard back to you.

 

(10) Forget identity theft, the future is identity erasure

What about the right to be forgotten in Europe?  How far can that go?  Once things are in the Internet, are they forever in some data center’s memory?  The answer is basically yes, but I expect a service designed to clean as much up about you as possible.  Remove all traces of you on social networks (delete posts before removing account), shopping sites, email sites, cloud storage/backups, etc.  The flip of this service is a private investigation tool to pull all that data without deleting it.

 

So there are 10 predictions for 2016.  I see 2016 as the Year of the Drone and expect to see Drones buzzing everywhere taking our selfies for us (making them “dronies”).

Look for mobile technology to keep on improving and check back at pdxmobile.com for an insight or two.  Follow @pdxmobile on Twitter to figure out the tech news as it happens too.

 

Before I get into my mobile technology predictions for 2016, because I’m a masochist let’s review the predictions I made for 2015 a year ago.  You can read my 2015 mobile technology predictions here.

(1) Text messaging bubble pops with Facebook as winner.

Yes.  Snapchat is not quite on the ropes, but struggling to justify its valuation for an IPO.  CB Insights downgraded Snapchat from a $16 billion valuation to a $12 billion valuation.  Does losing $4 billion in valuation mean anything?  Meanwhile Facebook is on a tear.  Snapchat has 100 million daily users, less than 10% of Facebook daily users.

(2) 3D printers appear in kitchen to bake and make food.

No.  You can’t eat what you design yet.

(3) Intel gets a smartphone win in the United States.

No.  It’s still an ARM world.

(4) Portable smartphone printers popup.

No.  You still have to walk over to a fixed wireless printer.

(5) Time lapse image recognition is the next big thing.

No.  Camera technology is good at following faces to keep faces in focus now, but this has not been applied to security cameras yet to track subject movements.

(6) Personal cloud and commercial cloud synchronization happens.

No.  There are some commercial solutions, but nothing for your home.  The cloud wants to own your data (and sell it), but not let you back it up elsewhere.

(7) Cloud players own the data center, non-players don’t and one cloud evaporates.

Yes.  HP exited the cloud space.  Who’s next?

(8) Amazon Echo defines a new must-have product.

Yes.  It’s here.  It hears.  It’s great.  Music is the killer app for Echo, but asking for conversion of weights and measures is great in my kitchen.  Alexa: How many tablespoons in a cup?

(9) Smartphone with interchangeable camera lenses from major player.

No.  Compact cameras have died a quick death and DSLRs are transforming into mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), but the logic of a smartphone+ILC is not here yet.

(10) A social network for sensors is born.

No.  The Internet of Things will give birth to a social network of things, but not yet.

(11) A major cloud outage disrupts tens of millions of Americans.

Yes.  There were several, but on August 1st Facebook had a 30 minute outage and people do notice when Facebook is down (it used to be Gmail outages were the rage).

(12) Unfriend-ing leads to smaller personal social networks.

No.  In face the opposite has happened and the average number of Facebook friends (for US females) is now 250, up from 200. See this article here.

 

So my tally is 4 / 12  correct or 33% right.  A fine baseball batting average, but not nearly up to my knack for anti-predicting.

Next up will be my new 2016 mobile predictions.  Stay tuned in to pdxmobile.com.

Anti-PredictionsHere’s how my 2015 anti-predictions did.  An Anti-Prediction is something that I predict won’t happen.  You can read about all my Anti-Predictions for 2015 here.

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

Yes.  Yahoo is flush from the Alibaba IPO and is looking to dump the rest of the company and only hoard its cash.

(2) No delivery by drone.

Yes.  Amazon says they’re still working on it, but you didn’t see a drone buzzing at your door yet.

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

Yes.  WiFi is still the fast lane for wireless connectivity.

(4) No growth in smartphone screen size.

Yes.  Six inches has reached the limit of our pockets.

(5) No rise in e-book prices.

Yes.  The Amazon-Hachette dispute didn’t lower e-book prices, but Hachette didn’t succeed in raising them either.  Hachette was just playing defense for the industry and did prevent further price erosion.

(6) No Tizen adoption.

Yes.  It’s still an Android world for open systems and an iOS system for Cupertino zealots.

(7) No Snapchat IPO.

Yes.  Snapchat is still trying to justify all the VC money dumped into it.

(8) No smartphone OS marketshare rearrangement.

Yes.  Last year it was Android 84%, iOS 12%, Windows 3%.  In 2015 it’s Android 83%, iOS 14%, Windows 3%.

(9) No Google Glass for the masses.

Yes.  In fact Google has suspended Glass likely due to the social pushback it got for being sensed as a kind of surveillance mechanism.

 

So the tally is 9/9 = 100% anti-correct.  I’m much better at predicting what won’t happen than what will happen.  All of my 2015 anti-predictions didn’t happen.

 

What has been going on in the mobile technology industry?  What happened in 2014 and what will happen in 2015?  You can read it all now on  your Amazon Kindle here.

I’m at it again.  Some of these are problems that need to be solved, so I’m offering up solutions.  Here’s what my crystal ball reveals for 2015.

(1) Text messaging bubble pops with Facebook as winner.

Facebook Messenger has 500 million users.  Whatsapp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion, also has 500 million users.  Can you say one billion?  It’s over.  Facebook has won and is the de facto text messaging service worldwide.  Carriers are disintermediated on a lucrative part of their business.

Another loser, aside from the carriers, is Snapchat.  Snapchat turned down buyout offers from both Facebook and Google for $4 billion near the end of 2013.  On its own now and with only 100 million users can Snapchat survive with Facebook as a competitor?  I think Snapchat will survive, but not thrive as it introduces ads to its users — users who can easily switch to Messenger or Whatsapp.  Of course Facebook with throw ads in too, but management will tread lightly as not to lose users.  That means fewer ads, less revenue and a harder path to an IPO for Snapchat (see my anti-predictions).

With big boy Facebook cornering the messaging market, don’t expect a thousand messaging apps to bloom, just like there’s not real Facebook social network imitators springing up either (sorry Ello).  The wave of text messaging apps is over and Facebook has won.

(2) 3D printers appear in kitchen to bake and make food.

You can buy a 3D printer in a Frye’s Electronics, but that is a store catering to nerds.  Most consumers will see 3D printers arrive in their kitchen to cook up new and cute concoctions.  Look for Japan, inventor of the bread machine, to bring out 3D food printing.

(3) Intel gets a smartphone win in the United States.

Forget the Asus Padfone.  That was a hybrid device (phone and tablet) with a tiny Asian audience.  Intel has been plowing big bucks into shoehorning x86 architecture into a lower power footprint.  Their Atom chip is now good enough to compete with ARM on power usage and computational horsepower (that was never in doubt).  So the technical achievement is there, what Intel now needs is a marketing breakthrough to get a top tier phonemaker (Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, somebody!) to come out with an Android with Atom brains.  That alone will ensure entry into the US market and I see Intel picking up that win by manufacturers desperate to differentiate themselves and their Android clone phones.

(4) Portable smartphone printers popup.

As more and more of our workflow has devolved down to smartphones and perhaps tablets, why isn’t there a better way to print?  I need something small and portable that can use some simple ink jets to spray out my quick notes, drawing or itemized receipt.  Thermal printers with eco-hostile paper aren’t the way to go.  Give me if not a pocketable printer, one I can slide into a tablet-sized Timbuk2 case.  We need this, especially as much of the work force is doing their jobs in coffee shops now.

(5) Time lapse image recognition is the next big thing.

Cameras, cameras everywhere and no meaning in sight.  With ubiquitous cameras we need a way to understand what they’re seeing.  Cameras capture so much data the only way to understand it is to compress it.  Compress the time for the images and voila you have time lapse videos.  Those videos needs to be mined to determine peak traffic times (and how much traffic at those times), duration of ambient lighting, average length of stay and so on.  We’re collecting so much data, we need Big Analysis to go with this Big Data.  Expect software startups that can parse and process for profit.

(6) Personal cloud and commercial cloud synchronization happens.

Many of us with cable or fiber optic modems have them hooked up to wireless routers so we can plunk on our laptop in the front room via a WiFi connection.  Many of us also have hooked up disk drives to those wireless routers to give us a “personal cloud”, a datastore that is accessible by any computer connecting to our wireless network.

Often those personal cloud disk drives are backing up what’s on your laptop(s).  What happens if that personal cloud drive dies?  You lose your backups.  That’s a good case to synchronize your personal cloud with the real cloud where you can save your data in case your house burns down.  Of course on the road you are also updating to and from the commercial cloud and you’d like to have that reflected on your personal cloud as well.  There is a need for greater synchronization services between your personal cloud, which can serve as a kind of persistent cache, and the commercial cloud which can be your off-site backup.  I expect to see activity in cloud-to-cloud synchronization services in 2015.

(7) Cloud players own the data center, non-players don’t and one cloud evaporates.

All the cloud players have their own data centers, in fact you’re nobody if you don’t have a data center.  It just means you’re using someone else’s data center.

So the question is whether there will be any mergers between cloud players?  Another way to put it is whether any data centers will combine?

The list of the big cloud players I see: Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM.

One of these cloud players will go away in 2015 although they won’t admit it.  The method of their vanishing will be to lose their data center and migrate to SOMEONE ELSE’S cloud.

(8) Amazon Echo defines a new must-have product.

The Amazon Echo now in beta resembles a cylindrical bluetooth speaker.  It has a speaker and a microphone as well.  You’ll talk to it in the same way you speak with Siri on Apple, Google search on Google and Cortana on Windows Phone.

Look for the Amazon Echo to be your own Star Trek computer for your home and Google to make its own version.  Microsoft, then Apple will follow Amazon’s lead here.  Not only will you get answers to questions, but the future of the Echo is to unify the functionality of your home entertainment systems.  With a device in your home you talk to, soon you will just tell it to change the channel, bring up the movie you want on your TV or play the latest album by name-your-rock-group.  A voice-activated interface is natural for home entertainment and the Echo will point the way in that direction, but in 2015 it will simply show it is a must-have tech product for your home.

(9) Smartphone with interchangeable camera lenses from major player.

By major I mean Apple, Samsung or Microsoft (from the division formerly known as Nokia).  Is it a pocket camera?  Is it a phone?  It’s both, but with better glass.  Yes the Lumia 1020 has a high pixel count sensor and better optics, but it’s really just an opening shot in making a smartphone with an outstanding camera.  I see more enthusiast photography features coming to smartphones and that requires better optics, not just better sensors.

The Sony DSC-QX100 which is just a lens+sensor+WiFi and is controlled by an app on your phone is one attempt in this area, but I think it’s just a bit too odd for consumers.  A lens that’s not physically connected to your phone, but your phone controls it?  Very interesting product, but I think consumers will demand the high quality lens physically connected to the phone.

(10) A social network for sensors is born.

For some time users have hooked up an Arduino device to some sensor and have it tweet every so often on Twitter.  I know someone who has a thermometer in his freezer hooked up to an Arduino and it tweets the freezer temperature every minute.

Why you might want this, or not want this, varies from person-to-person.  What this indicates though is a need to monitor sensors and I don’t sense it quite fits into traditional social networks.  With the Internet-of-Things coming we will all soon be collecting massive amounts of data and there needs to be a place to monitor it in a log like fashion, like a Twitter feed, but also compress it and analyze it, kind of like a big data problem.

I see new social networks for just sensors, no humans please, arising to fill this niche.  Your device will have a profile, but no hobbies.

(11) A major cloud outage disrupts tens of millions of Americans.

InfoWorld has compiled a good list of major cloud outages here.

In 2014 Dropbox went down for two days, Gmail & Google went down for 30 to 60 minutes in January and three hours in March, Basecamp for two hours, Adobe for a day, Evernote for 10 hours, iCloud for hours, Microsoft Exchange for nine hours, among the outages.

It’s not quite bad enough for us to notice much yet, but if you were a web developer using Adobe InDesign in the cloud you lost a day on a project.  We’re all used to email outages, but as more and more of the tools we use migrate to the cloud, we’re going to be suffering increased burdens, or productivity losses, from the cloud going down.

I am not quite predicting the apocalypse, but an outage of a day or two of one of the most popular services, enough to make evening news headlines, will happen in 2015.

(12) Unfriend-ing leads to smaller personal social networks.

There is a concept called Dunbar’s Number which pertains to the maximum size of social relationships an individual can manage.  Of course most of us operate well below Dunbar’s Number and maintain social relationships at a number we find comfortable.

What about online?

According to a Pew Research poll the average Facebook adult user has 200 friends.  That’s too many friends, more than the normal Dunbar Number of 150 stable social relationships.

Where there is instability there will be unfriending.

I predict that the average Facebook user number of friends will decline.  Given that an average user is starting with 200 the only way that number can decline is if (a) a friend leaves Facebook or (b) a user unfriends someone.  I see (b) and a lot of it.  I see users having experimented trying out the social network, reaching at every recognized name, pulling back to a more common and familiar group.  Twitter has a model of looser association and may be immune to this new trend for awhile, but I predict Twitter too will start to see users cull who they’re following.

This will mark a retrenchment trend for social networks.  Unfriending means users are actually seeking more relevant content, especially important in an ad-polluted stream of status updates.  2015 will mark the year this starts and be the year of the unfriend.

So there you have it, a dozen things to look for in 2015.  I think 2015 marks a year where innovation blooms, kind of a pivot to new things after having milked what technology brought us before.  I see 2015 as a fresh start to begin to grow new things for tech.
Happy new year!

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.

 

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.

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