At the end of 2012 PDXmobile made a tech baker’s dozen mobile predictions for the coming year.  Now that it’s halfway through 2013, how are those predictions faring.  Let’s see.

(1) Android smartphone marketshare exceeds 80%

Not quite there yet, but we have seen Android top 75% marketshare in 2013-Q1 as reported by IDC.  Can Google, Samsung and friends put the squeeze on Apple, Microsoft and others to get that 5%? Stay-tuned.  This prediction is definitely In-Play.

(2) Nokia brings 41 megapixel PureView camera to its Windows Phone Lumia

Nokia has been falling like a rock with its cellphone sales dropping 31% in 2013-Q1 alone.  Like others I had expected Nokia to take their best Symbian technology, which was the 41 megapixel camera in the Symbian 808 PureView, and cram it into a Windows Phone as fast as they can.

Well perhaps as fast as Nokia can isn’t fast enough.  While the Lumia 925 is a nice Windows Phone, all eyes are on that 808 PureView camera technology resurfacing.  It hasn’t, so Nokia is putting this prediction in jeopardy.

If Nokia brings out their 41 megapixel camera-phone in 2014, it may hurt my prediction batting average, but it hurts Nokia more that they are taking so long to bring a competitive product to market.  Nokia just can’t be another “me-too” smartphone maker and survive.  It’s innovate or die time and all the talk lately of Microsoft or Huawei buying out Nokia (won’t happen) is a sign of Nokia’s weakness.  Will Nokia shrink into oblivion?

This prediction (of the 41 megapixel camera Windows Phone) is still In-Play, but I’m doubting it since Nokia’s new phones are probably out for the year.  I’d rate this one as Doubtful.

(3) Instagram continues its mobile rise and Facebook treads mobile water

Well this one was a bit of the poke-in-the-eye to Facebook saying that buying Instagram was brilliant, but their bread and butter site had become too stodgy and wasn’t cutting mobile mustard.  Certainly Instagram has continued to innovate, most recently by copying Vine and allowing short videos as part of their service.  Instagram has continued to rise.

What about Facebook?

On the one hand Facebook did an about face and got on the Android native app bandwagon after showing how slow an HTML5-based website can be.  Kudos for the switch to a genuinely fine native Android app.

On the other hand young people have been ditching Facebook left and right with analysts speculating why.  Why?  Well it’s like this: would you have wanted someone to follow you around with a tape recorder, camera and movie camera your whole life?  No of course not, we don’t want to relive youthful indiscretions in public forever and if they’re recorded, we do.

So the new competition for Facebook is from services that allow you to send messages that evaporate and disappear after being read once or within some fixed time.  In a sense these services are providing for a new kind of privacy by removing the persistant nature in digital communication.

While this is a big challenge for Facebook and really the very idea of Facebook, it hasn’t stopped Facebook’s proliferation to virtually every smartphone everywhere.  Yes the Facebook Home phone made by HTC bombed, people want to use other apps than Facebook, but Facebook is the most used app on all smartphones.

So then how do I rate this prediction?

I don’t want to cave so quickly.  Instagram has continued to rise and gain mindshare among youth, presence on devices and innovation for mobile.  So that half of this prediction is correct.  Is Facebook just treading water by being on almost every smartphone?  Doesn’t seem so, but I’m not giving them a trophy yet.  Let’s rate this one as In-Play and revisit how they are standing at year’s end.

(4) RIM delivers on BB10, but fades into obscurity

RIM did deliver their Blackbery 10 OS and devices.  RIM did change their name to Blackberry.  Yes RIM is fading into obscurity, their smartphone marketshare is now down to less than 3% as of 2013-Q1 and Windows Phone has passed them.

So I’d rate this one as Yep.

(5) Apple launches AirBook Jr. with ARM processor

At their recent WWDC developer conference Apple launched a new refreshed MacBook Air, but  with updated Intel Haswell processors and longer battery life.  What about the iPad and keyboard combo I’ve been expecting?  Is it so hard for Apple to do a downscale product?

Yes it is soooo hard for Apple to do a downscale product.

Apple will be launching a new iPhone later this year.  Will there be new iPads also?  Almost certainly there will be, but it’s hard to see the downscale AirBook I was predicting happening.  Why?  Where did I go wrong?

My thinking has been that ARM would go upscale and it is trying to, but at the same time Intel with x86 is trying to go downscale.  Where x86 and ARM are intersecting is now increasingly on x86′s turf, meaning the complex structures involving performance where Intel has been making a living.

So the mojo seems to be with actually replacing ARM processors that sip less battery with more powerful x86 processors, rather than replacing x86 processors with ARM.  Intel is getting design wins and these are for devices that crave more performance, like the Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet.  Can Intel stave off ARM?  Can ARM unseat Intel in the laptop?  Not in this year’s prediction, maybe next.

In the meantime there will be a fall “new iPhone” event from Apple, so I can’t dismiss this prediction yet, so I’ll just rate it as Doubtful.

(6) Samsung Galaxy S4 will be the top selling phone

I didn’t know what this phone would be at the end of 2012, but I was dead on right.  This one is a Yep.

(7) Intel buys Broadcom

Intel is on a mobile warpath with new CEO Brian Krzanich and his first acquisition was the GPS division from ST-Ericsson.  Certainly this acquisition was mostly arranged prior to Krzanich taking over the reins, but it required his approval.

The black hole in the Intel mobile portfolio is in modems.  Qualcomm is kicking industry butt with their LTE technology and patents.  Can Intel get into this game?  Not without help and significant help.  Broadcom is the one company that has been giving Qualcomm fits.  Broadcom is smaller and significant cheaper than Qualcomm and a good takeover candidate for Intel, so I’d still rate this prediction as In-Play.

(8) Large screen innovation yields to small screen innovation

Whether you’re saying Google Glass or Apple iWatch, the flat slab of glass in your pocket that is your smartphone is done.  It is what it is and little more it will be.  New innovation will be in form factors you wear not carry and we’re starting to see it already.  I rate this prediction as a Yep.

(9) Yahoo launches branded device(s)

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer came over from Google and has keen insight on what can drive the Mountain View masters-of-the-universe mad.  Mayer has already presided over a revamp of the Yahoo home page and breathed new life into Flickr.com which really should have done what Instagram did.

So Yahoo is showing signs of mobile life, but is it enough?  The changes now had to be done to prevent fading to obscurity, but frankly they’re not enough to arrest the slide.  Yahoo needs to be bolder and try more.  My idea for them was to launch some branded devices.  Given the disaster of the HTC Facebook Home phone this may not sound like such a great idea, but if you’re just software and you’re not the operating system, then you’re easily discarded.

The only way for Yahoo to rise to its former prominence is some bold move like branded devices, and perhaps selling them in consumer outlets like Target.  The Peek email device did get significant traction in 2008 by doing just that, though the small outfit wasn’t able to continue innovating and got hammered by smartphones that have email.  Consumers are paring down to carrying only one device that combines cellphone, email, etc.

Still a Yahoo-branded device would attract a great deal of attention and might bring in some valuable youth market.  I’d rate this prediction as In-Play.

(10) Windows 8 is over, expect Windows 9 to be announced in 2013

No brainer.  Microsoft HAS to deliver software faster and speed up its development cycles.  Although it’s called Windows 8.1, it is the next version so I’d rate this one as a Yep.

(11) Trouble at Qualcomm with big stock sell-off

Qualcomm’s stock has been treading water this year, so this hasn’t happened YET.  However the pressure on companies making baseband processors has increased.  Samsung uses Qualcomm CPUs but also has its own Exynos 5 Octa chip.  Why use Qualcomm?  Simple, where LTE is required Samsung picked Qualcomm as it’s easier to integrate the modem and baseband CPU from one vendor than mix and match.

So really it’s Qualcomm’s wireless technology that has enabled them to sell baseband chips.  Without the modems Qualcomm would be out of the business like Texas Instruments who exited mobile basebands despite selling high volumes of their OMAP processors to HTC.

Samsung illustrates that if they had their druthers, Samsung would use their own baseband processor chip.  The problem lies in not having the modem technology.  That’s why Intel should snap up Broadcom before Samsung does.

But Qualcomm has the modem technology so does this save them?

No.

LTE has enough dispersed intellectual property to prevent one company from dominating it as Qualcomm did with CDMA.  This means that other modem vendors will be popping up and supplying parts and companies to take-over so large smartphone makers (i.e. Samsung and Apple) can buy a company to take their manufacturing internal and eliminate another third party vendor.

So just as baseband processors are being made internally, so too will modems become another part of the vertical integration of smartphones.  When this trend emerges analysts will not be kind to third party suppliers like Qualcomm, so I’d rate this prediction as In-Play.

(12) Robert X. Cringely makes a prediction

The King was dead, long live the King.  I knew he would and he did.  No doubt he’ll be making more too.  This is a big Yep.

So the tally is In-Play, Doubtful, In-Play, Yep, Doubtful, Yep, In-Play, Yep, In-Play, Yep, In-Play, Yep.  That’s 5 Yep, 5 In-Play, 2 Doubtful.

Keep track of how these pan out on Twitter at @pdxmobile and keep an eye out for year end predictions for 2014.

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