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Apple, Microsoft will face testing times
Apple remains -- despite its recent share price tumbles -- the most powerful and wealthiest technology company in the world, while Microsoft still has more users of its products than any other firm in the world.
The duopoly between the two remains, just as it earlier in the decade. But the two companies in the past year have seen extreme highs and extreme lows. How the two technology behemoths will hold on to their respective highs in the coming year will be something to watch. It's entirely likely that Apple and Microsoft will go back to being 'ordinary' technology companies, and little will separate them from each other or the wider community.
Windows 8 will likely, despite analysts hedging their outlooks, become a massive success, despite its sluggish start. Most organizations are expected to roll out the next-generation software to their existing machines. At the same time, Apple's dominance in the post-PC world will see its share of the tablet market steady out and take the crown away from the traditional PC market.
That said, Microsoft's Windows share could suffer as a result of a rise in mobile operating systems while Apple's share price and troubles in keeping up with the innovation curve in 2012 could see the firm fall back to the mid-2000s.
While both scenarios are possible, the complete reverse could also -- and may -- happen. The PC/post-PC world is still in transition, and only time will tell if the two companies, singularly or respectively, have kept up with the trends.
'Internet of Things' will connect the home together
Plenty of strange acronyms and new sayings from 2012, but perhaps the strangest and non-descript is the 'Internet of things.'
The concept is simple: ordinary household and personal items have become connected to the wider world through networking connections, near-field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth. For instance, that relationship allows jewelry to change color with the weather, glasses to show what time it is, and other seemingly ordinary items that will connected to the outside world and react accordingly. 2013 is the year where this will likely take off and become a brand new phase to our inter-connected lives.
From a business and enterprise perspective, it will allow for more informed business decisions and interaction without human intervention, such as printers telling manufacturers when ink levels are low or when a computer's hardware needs replacing.
Mobile mergers: T-Mobile-MetroPCS; Sprint-Clearwire
In 2013, the U.S. cellular market will become increasingly competitive, despite the troubles they face. Following the failed attempt by AT&T to acquire T-Mobile, partly thanks to the intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice, the smaller networks have been bidding for others in order to bolster their financial positions and network infrastructure.
With cellular saturation at its peak, the only way these companies can grow either domestically or internationally is to acquire their rivals with the closest set of hardware to their own. With T-Mobile and MetroPCS set to merge by the second quarter. The Sprint and Clearwire deal set to clear later in 2013 now that Softbank, the primary shareholder of Sprint, gave its thumbs up to the deal, we expect to see a series of larger networks to take on the behemoths of AT&T and Verizon.
As 4G LTE is set to edge in to take the place of older technologies, falling short of actually replacing GPRS, EDGE and 3G, infrastructures will grow and develop with additional investment from outside companies, and become increasingly internationalized as LTE becomes the global standard for next-generation communications.