2013: My tech guesstimates for the year ahead

2013: My tech guesstimates for the year ahead

Summary: Will machine-to-machine connections be the next cloud and big data (at least in terms of tech marketing)? Will cloud finally kill server sales? And Windows 8 and RIM's fate remain the wild cards of 2013.


Predictions for the year ahead are always tricky---and often wrong---but worth the effort if only to frame your thinking.

Image via Amazon, Amlong Crystal.

My 2012 calls were a mixed bag. Sure, Workday, Salesforce and the SaaS gang became enterprise standard platforms in many respects. But RIM didn’t become a software company completely, Microsoft's Nokia partnership is still a work in progress and ultrabooks and Windows 8 aren't exactly big hits.

With those caveats, here's a look at what I'm thinking for 2013.

  • Machine-to-machine Internet connections become a key focus for tech vendors (but not necessarily customers). In 2012, tech vendors talked big data a lot. In 2011, the focus was all on cloud washing. In 2013, don't be surprised if the machine-to-machine (M2M) bandwagon starts rolling. Like most trends the talk will be ahead of the actual implementations in production. But rest assured, M2M will get some real-world traction because it sits in the middle of both the big data and cloud trends. 
  • Patent litigation is settled for the most part. Apple does a patent deal with HTC. Apple and Samsung are talking in between suing each other. Companies are teaming up to buy patents from the likes of Kodak. Overall, these patent deals will mean 2012's focus on high-profile lawsuits will wane a good bit. The mobile market, which features most of these patent legal wars, is maturing. As that maturation takes place, the game of mutually assured patent destruction will end.
  • Windows 8 gets traction---after every pundit officially calls it a failure. Microsoft's Windows 8---and lackluster PC sales---will take a beating in the first quarter of 2013. I expect many tech earnings conference calls to confirm lackluster sales. One issue is there isn't a winning hardware form factor for Windows 8. The Surface is unproven so far. And tech buyers are focused on tablets not PCs. After Windows 8 and Microsoft are taken out to the woodshed, a real form factor will emerge---Intel CEO Paul Otellini estimated it would take a year or so---and the operating system quietly gains steam. Windows 8 has its faults, but it isn't Vista. The ramp of Windows 8 will be slower than Microsoft would like. The dirty little Windows secret: Microsoft's enterprise business---Windows Server, Office, Dynamics etc.---is killing it and the software giant would rake in dough if Windows 8 completely fell off its own fiscal cliff. More: What's behind the slump in PC sales? Can the industry turn around? | With Windows 8, Microsoft's playing a scene from Groundhog Day
  • Chief marketing officers are treated like royalty, but CIOs still control a lot of the dollars. In 2013, tech vendors will spend a lot of time wooing non-CIOs. The CIO and CMO are partners in 2013, but as budget battles escalate these two roles will duel. CMOs will have more tech buying authority, but ultimately lack the expertise necessary to make implementations shine. The good news: CIOs won't always be the ones thrown under the IT failure bus for a change. Also: Gartner: 'Every budget is an IT budget'
  • Research in Motion becomes a player again. The BlackBerry 10 platform doesn't break the Apple-Android duopoly, but does well enough to become a viable 3a platform to Windows Phone 8's 3b role. RIM also uses its installed base to become a mobile device management player. In other words, RIM survives and may even thrive a smidge in 2013. RIM will never regain its previous status, but proves that it isn't Palm either.
  • Oracle grows its hardware business. Company executives say that the hardware business will grow again. Oracle will prove CEO Larry Ellison in 2013 only after sales unravel some more. Oracle's overall hardware sales have to hit bottom at some point. Right? Somehow, Oracle threads its cloud vs. hardware sales needle. After all, Oracle (and SAP's) core competency is really selling to the enterprise. Also: Oracle's budget flush comments cheer software sector
  • Workday and Salesforce.com merge. OK, this one is a bit of a stretch, but the two sides will go for world domination, combine forces and aim to really stick it to Oracle and SAP. It's a bit fuzzy what exec is the top dog of the new company, but these two partners give it a whirl. For good measure, the companies then turn around and buy Rimini Street. The reality is that the Workday and Salesforce may have to merge since Oracle and SAP will buy every other cloud company. 
  • Speaking of Rimini Street: The third party maintenance provider wins its legal battle with Oracle and spawns an entire industry. As a result, Oracle and SAP scramble to maintain their maintenance revenue. Enterprise software and maintenance pricing gets real interesting in a hurry.
  • Google's developer strategy vs. Apple works out nicely. Apple has nudged Google out of its core applications that are embedded in its OS. But that's OK since Google does well by developing iOS apps. Google Maps on iOS and YouTube are just the start. Google's developer success sparks a rethink by Apple.
  • Cloud and virtualization take server sales out to the woodshed. At the Amazon Web Services conference last year, CIOs made chores like configuring servers and storage gear sound passé. As more CIOs hop on the cloud train, hardware sales will start to take serious hits. Companies such as HP will tout ARM servers early in the year---Project Moonshot specifically---but the margins won't be there to keep the server gravy train rolling. Also: CIOs eye more outsourcing, less hardware in 2013
  • Big data goes production. Those pilots of 2012 become production systems. The returns on investment in these initial rounds look promising. Turns out companies have been thinking about what to do with their data for years so those first projects look great. The error period of big data projects begin in earnest in 2014. Also see: Big data: How the revolution may play out
  • Facebook faces a rebellion. The Instagram flap is only the start of many for Facebook. As a result, Facebook customers---which happen to be the product---start to question their usage, allegiance and involvement with the company. In other words, Facebook starts to look a bit like AOL back in the day. However, Google+ doesn't benefit either. In the U.S., social networking is questioned by a large swath of the population. Social connections are still huge, but a backlash begins. Enterprise companies, which have designed a good bit of their software based on Facebook, scramble.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, Oracle, Windows

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  • My Predictions

    1. Microsoft (now post-sinofsky) will build a service pack for release for Windows 8 in May / June. It'll have an option to disable Modern UI and boot-to-desktop.

    2. Microsoft will be looking for a new CEO come mid-year, Ballmer's days are numbered and shareholders murmur of a replacement.

    3. There will be a new Xbox this year and it'll be a mind-blowing success.

    4. Samsung and Apple will stop fighting, but Apple's victory will be thrown out of court.

    5. Nokia will make a comeback. RIM will be sold to either Samsung or Microsoft.

    6. AMD will begin to look really shaky come EOFY.
    • Edit:

      #1 should say : "option to disable Modern and be able to boot-to-desktop :)
      • There is a medical word

        for people like you - anal retentive...
    • High PPI Density Displays Will KICK GLASS

      Actually, I think you're mostly correct with your list. I dearly hope you are wrong about AMD. Their demise may have started quite a while back when they were undermined by Intel's unlawful tactics, so well documented in Europe.
      DIGNAN nailed-it with his observation that: "In the U.S., social networking is questioned by a large swath of the population. Social connections are still huge, but a backlash begins."
      I do think a significant supporting role to smartphone and convertible, hybrid device development will be very high PPI density display screens such as commented on in a News Article, 2013 Smartphones with 443 PPI Displays Will KICK GLASS.
      ---Paul B. Wordman
      Paul B. Wordman
  • Get the present right, if you want to predict the future

    When you put a comment like, "The BlackBerry 10 platform doesn't break the Apple-Android duopoly", it's a bit hard to take your predictions seriously.

    Android has grown to 75% market share and is clearly growing. Apple has 14%. Android is rapidly becoming a 'monopoly', which of course is the obvious prediction you missed for 2013. Apple is going to end the year a much weaker company than it starts.

    Your Facebook prediction is pretty bold, and you may well be right.
    • I don't thisnk he's even close on the Facebook one.

      How many know of Facebook's involvement with Instagram. How many people know that Instagram was going to do that?

      Nope, as far as I can see, everyone's still chugging happily along with Facebook.
      William Farrel
      • Agreed

        I'd agree with you. I'm not a Facebook user but pretty much everybody else around me is, and they show no sign of ditching the platform. However, I do think companies will think twice about leveraging Facebook (I still can't think of a single reason why a company would require Facebook credentials to access their resources!).
    • Re: Android is rapidly becoming a 'monopoly'

      Android can never be a monopoly, because nobody controls it.

      Case in point: does your 75% figure include Amazon, various cheap Chinese no-name devices, and third-party builds like CyanogenMod and friends, none of which are offering Google-sanctioned official Android builds?

      I rest my case.
    • Android market share dropping

      That 75% Android market share you quote is international and the vast majority of those are low end crap Android phone no one cares about. Year over year in the States Android dropped 10% to 41% market share as Apple increased its own market share 17.5% to a majority 53% market share. People are wising up to the downside of using Android phones. Seek Alpha has just written a 4 part series on why Android is actually dying. Get a clue.
      • Already got a clue

        So, what you are saying is that Android is going from "Most everybody" to "Mostly nearly everybody". The people down at the Googleplex are shaking in their boots now!

        Seriously, you rattle off these numbers as though it means anything to anybody not financially invested in one company or another, and end it with "Get a clue." Maybe you should get a clue and realize that it just doesn't matter. If Android dies, something else will take its place. If iOS dies, something else will take its place.

        It is great that you have passion about things. Maybe you could get passionate about something that matters?
      • Re:Year over year in the States Android dropped 10%

        Coincidentally (or not), Android is only dropping in the US as the US is dropping as a proportion of the world market.
      • Apple's market share has always been seasonal

        With the single iPhone release for year, Apple always does worst in the quarter prior to the new iPhone release, and best in that release quarter, or the one afterwards. This is enough in the USA for the iPhone sales to momentarily bubble up over the 50% point, but it's never sustained.

        There's a rumor that Apple's going to two releases per year. That could smooth things out a bit, but as long as the release dates are known, there's always going to be a drop in sales right before a new annoucement. That happens to Samsung, too -- but with more products released more often, the effect is less on their overall volumes.

        Apple makes enough profit to remain a leading power in mobile, even if they don't maintain even a quarter of the overall mobile market. Look at Apple's PC business -- they're making more profit than any two PC companies, with only 5% of the global sales in the PC market.

        Windows has a huge disadvantage in this market, due to the high cost of the software for OEMs. Microsoft is adding $95 to the cost of every Windows RT tablet; Apple's got a tiny per unit cost (patent licensing), Android only a bit more (patent licensing, $10 to Google if they include the Google tools). Microsoft, obviously, doesn't have this cost themselves, but if they drop the Surface price to be competitive with other ARM devices, they'll price out all of the OEMs.
  • Rather than a rebellion on Facebook,

    might have a few highly visible and very vocal critics highlighting the various privacy
    gaffs at Facebook. But no big grassroots type movement unless the big media pick
    up on the story and people hear about it over morning coffee watching Today, Good
    Morning Amercia or CBS This Morning...OK, I'll throw in Fox News Morning Show also.
    The bigger rebellion just could be by consumers in response to the rather expensive
    data plans being foisted upon us by the various telecommunications/cellular providers.
    This could result in an overall reshaping of the way data plans are marketed and
    purchased in the USA, with a shift to more of a "metered" type format. Probably won't
    start seeing anything on this UNTIL a large enough number of consumers "hit the wall"
    with the current plans, which can happen quicker with the 4G and LTE speeds, as they
    reach and exceed their data plan limits.
    (Yeah, I know...it's a pie in the sky dream...)
  • Facebook is a mess...

    Facebook's fall will be hard & fast (though not necessarily in 2013). Many, many FB users are dissatisfied... but stay because "everyone else is still on Facebook." However, once a real FB replacement comes along, FB is finished.

    Google is approaching monopoly strength in phones; however, much of the developer mindshare is still with Apple, along with most of the profits; therefore, we still have a duopoly. I'm hoping that Windows Phone finally breaks through in 2013. My hunch is that once/if Microsoft breaks through, it will rise up to be a real challenger to Android--something that Apple is incapable of doing (for the same reasons it was incapable of challenging Microsoft on the desktop).

    Windows 8 will gain steam as more and more consumers expect ALL devices (PCs, laptops, hybrids, etc) to be touchscreen, and Windows 8 is the only OS that can truly offer the desktop power that people want and need.
    • Windows RT/Windows Phone will challenge Android

      What I expect is more parity between the three platforms, almost no loss in share for Apple with probably some gains as Windows Phone/RT eats away at Android's dominance.

      Still, as long as you have people coming home with a smartphone, even the Nokia Lumina claiming, "Look! I got an iPhone!" Apple will remain a strong player in the mobile market. Don't say it can't happen, either. It happened only 2 days ago with a friend of mine's mother.
    • People Have Never Wanted Touchscreen Desktops in the Past...

      People have never wanted touchscreen desktops in the past, and I'm far from convinced that will change. The touchscreen doesn't make sense on the desktop and never has (as an aside, there are some limited application uses for it where it does make sense, but most of them would work better with the touchscreen raised at a bit of an angle from the desktop).
      • The touchscreen desktop makes very good sense

        When done right, that is. I have a client right now who uses touch far more than she thought she would when I helped her buy a new all-in-one desktop over a year ago. The simple ability to lift your hand and touch the file or app you want to open means far less mouse travel and clicking, which is a massive ergonomic advantage that actually helps avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
        • Arm-Strain

          I disagree; if your desktop monitor is set up ergonomically, the screen is positioned at full arm's length. It's much easier to move my mouse 5cm across the desk and click a button than it is to raise and fully extend my arm (putting strain on my back in doing so), poke the screen and then return it to the mouse.
          • arms length?

            My screens are half an arms length from my body. Do you have T-Rex arms?

            I want touch screen monitors yesterday. I've had Windows 8 on my two screen desktop at home and catch myself trying to touch the screen occasionally.

            Eventually tablets like the Surface Pro will be THE computer and people will plug it into a port at home for desktop use.
          • Ranga Arms

            I'm not saying touch screens are bad, or that nobody should want them, I'm merely pointing out that they conflict quite badly with established ergonomic principals in that they require the monitors to be placed too close to the user.

            Your set-up, with the monitors at half an arm's length, is going to cause you eye strain (as a minimum).