5 big questions for 2014

2014 is here … yippee! But now that the world's firework supply has been seriously depleted and the champagne headaches have subsided, it's time to think about more serious things – such as tech.

2014 is here … yippee! But now that the world's firework supply has been seriously depleted and the champagne headaches have subsided, it's time to think about more serious things – such as tech.

While there's no doubt that 2013 was an interesting year in the world of technology, I think that the pieces are positioned to make 2014 even more interesting. Here are just a few things I'll be keeping my eye on over the year.

AMD – Will it embrace mobile?

After the bottom fell out of the PC market all the major PC players have been scrabbling to make their mark in the mobile sector – except for one. AMD.

So far AMD has resisted making any real progress in the mobile market. In 2013 the company did score a duo of wins by grabbing the top spot inside both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but can the cash from console sales make up for the fall in revenue from evaporating PC sales?

Will we see that big PC upgrade cycle?

While there's little doubt that PC sales have been far from stellar, analysts have been predicting that the industry will experience an upgrade cycle. The thinking is that there are tens of millions of old PCs squirreled away in offices all around the world. These PCs will, one day, need upgrading, and thanks to Windows 8.1 this day will be sometime during 2014.

I happen to agree with the analysts that an upgrade cycle is coming, but there are two things to bear in mind:

  • The rebound will be temporary. People will never buy PCs at the rate they once did. The glory days are over, and the future belongs to mobile devices.
  • PCs are lasting longer than ever, so this could be the last major upgrade cycle for a few years.

Will wearables be the next big thing?

Wearable computers in the form of smart watches and eyewear seem to be getting ready to break into the mainstream market. We've already seen smartwatches such as the Pebble making an appearance, but so far the effect they have had seems minimal. Then there's Google Glass, which still seems to be languishing in the early dev stages.

The question isn't whether wearable devices are coming – they are – the real question is whether they will be compelling enough to capture the imagination of buyers. Not only does the price have to be right, but wearables are also going to have to serve a purpose above and beyond being a second screen for smartphones.

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As usual, all eyes will be on Apple. While both the iPhone and iPad will likely see a refresh over the coming year, there's always the hope that the Cupertino giant has something ne up its sleeve.

Perhaps iWatch, or iGlass. Or maybe the long-fabled TV.

Whatever it is, you can count on the fact that it will be big news.

Kindle Phone?

Amazon is an interesting company. Almost overnight the company transformed itself from a book retailer to a huge player in the digital world. It has on offer a vast array of digital content – ranging from books to games – and now has a raft of devices from which users can consume said content.

But there's one device that Amazon has yet to offer – a smartphone. Amazon's success with the Kindle range of hardware suggests the company has the tech know-how and consumer reach (not to mention ties to carriers) needed to make such a device a success.

And if that's not enough, Amazon is in the unenviable position of being able to sell the hardware at close to cost in the hopes of making a profit from selling content.


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