Here’s a quick and dirty post to capture some of the thoughts that I’ve been brewing.
2012 to me was a year of continued trends in tech. Looking back, I couldn’t name any major disruptions in the major consumer-facing sectors of tech. The continued trends that I see are:
- Rise of tablets vs. decline of PCs in all form-factors. The “tablets as cars vs. PCs as trucks” metaphor seems to be materializing everyday
- Continued penetration of smartphones
- Within smartphones, the platform wars mostly continued previous trajectory. Apple maintained, if not grew, its overall market share and leadership in the higher end segment. Android market share continued to be fueled by low-end devices (essentially, Android-powered smartphones at price points that replaced feature phones, and probably used as feature phones, if the mobile web usage data is any indication). Blackberry / Windows Phone remain on the fringe, while there continues to be new platform entrants (Tizen etc.)
- In terms of apps and services, perhaps I’ve not been paying close attention, but there wasn’t really a defining new service that broke out (would Pinterest count? I don’t use it enough to comment). (Obviously not every year would there be a new Google / Facebook / Amazon / Twitter)
- For buzz-words, “cloud” / “big data” are not new concepts by any measure, but they have gone more mainstream
- crowd-funding (Kickstarter) got a lot more mainstream, but I personally would lump it together with the rise of angel investing a few years back as niche alternatives to raising capital. It’s a compelling alternative for very specific teams
Looking ahead to the rest of 2013, these are the things that I think may define the year:
- Intensified competition to be the “center” of the living room, from all angles. Maybe Apple will do a real TV. Current TV brands will also further their “smart TV” offerings. There’s also a whole host of set-top box alternatives, anything from dedicated streaming boxes to new gaming consoles such as Ouya / the “Steam Box”
- Related to the above, will this year be the year that the mainstream TV content model first see major disruption? There’s been a storm brewing for the past few years, but we’ve yet to see what the storm actually looks like. With every year more and more pieces seem to be coming together though
- In mobile, I don’t expect smartphone landscape to change much, but it would be extremely interesting to watch how Android vendors compete against each other. Would Motorola stage a comeback / would Google become more determined to own more of the mobile value via hardware sales? Would Samsung make major platform decisions in response?
- In tablets, I also don’t expect the big picture to change much, but would be interesting to watch how Android tablets continue to materialize and compete against Apple (as well as each other)