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.

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