From Google's mojo to LTE vs fibre: Top 10 technology predictions for 2013

Analyst Mark Anderson has a good record for technology predictions; here's what he says about 2013 — and where we agree and disagree.
Written by Mary Branscombe, Contributor

Mark Anderson runs the Strategic News Service — an influential weekly newsletter read by everyone from Michael Dell and Bill Gates to Ray Ozzie and economists like Bill Janeway — and also the annual Future in Review conference. Every December he puts together a list of 10 predictions for the coming year and scores himself on the previous year.

This year's predictions are particularly interesting — especially as we don't completely agree with them. Here's the list, in Anderson's own words, with our quick reactions. We'll be going into a lot more detail in our next posts, as well as looking back at the 2012 predictions — so let us know which predictions you're most interested in discussing.

I         'CarryAlongs' Dominate Global Computer Markets

This category of pads and slates takes its rightful place as the largest market segment of computing devices. Already the fastest-growing category for several years, the format and dominant market position comes to pass in 2013.

We say  It depends whether you're measuring new sales or devices in use. There are over a billion PCs of various formats out there — and of course, Surface is Microsoft's attempt to bridge the two categories.  

II        Intel: Long Live the King, the King is Dead

The chip royalty ladder is flipped, as Intel becomes increasingly irrelevant in the world of general computing, while CarryAlong and mobile chipmakers (led by Qualcomm and ARM) are the new William and Kate. For most observers, Intel in 2013 is a component supplier for servers. The best way out of this cul de sac: a new CEO with tech chops.

We say  Internal politics and reaching the limits of Moore's Law and Dennard Scaling are hitting Intel hard, but your take on this prediction has to follow your take on the first prediction.  

III       Net TV Dominates

A majority of US-based homes will have Net-connected TVs, with other developed nations quickly following as bandwidth allows. This change in distribution will begin to affect production in new and interesting ways, leading to more and cheaper content, of increasingly varying length and format. The straitjacket of Old TV slots, ads, and schedules is now off.

We say  What counts as a TV? If your Xbox is your set-top box, you're already there. The arcane TV market of the US could actually be behind the rest of the world in cable cutting.  

IV        The LTE vs. Fiber Battle Creates Regional Revolutions in Broadband

Customers choosing broadband LTE in DSL-served regions will be paying more and getting more; but those choosing LTE in fiber-served regions will be paying more for wireless broadband but getting less. The LTE vs. fiber fight will define the telecoms business-model battle for the coming decade. With LTE speeds scheduled to exceed cable and DSL wired speeds for many users, the question of price per MB will be inverted. Is it about MOB or MBS? This is the start of real revolutions in broadband pricing and provision.

We say  Mobile broadband is always going to be behind fixed broadband on bandwidth, and while we've had great experiences with LTE in the US, if it's faster than DSL then you're probably doing DSL wrong.  

V         Google Gets Its Mojo Back

Facebook is tired and nosy, Apple is Steve-less, Microsoft is Microsoft, and Amazon is the only other game in town. Google's efforts in email, video, smartphones, maps, and driverless cars open up new long-term expansion paths, with more to follow. For all its many failures, the company has proven it can find and plough new turf. In terms of creativity, Google becomes the next Apple. Now it must learn about product support or risk losing it all to competitors.

We say  Don't underestimate Microsoft, and we won't be betting on Google getting product support right even though it's moving into paid services like Google Apps. Google has massive impact — but does it have a business beyond search yet?  

VI         The Driverless Car Becomes a Serious and Competitive Global Project...

...with multiple new states and countries passing laws to allow it, and major brands undertaking serious development of all the features that will one day lead to common acceptance. (Note: This prediction was written before Volvo's December 3 announcement.)

We say  Everyone wants to see driverless cars, no one wants to see driverless car lawsuits — regulation may be more of an issue than technology.  

VII       e-Books Are The Books

Total e-book sales in dollars will beat adult paperback sales in 2013, and their differential growth rates will exceed 30 percent, as e-books continue their ramp toward dominating the entire market.

We say  DRM and price gouging are the only things holding e-books back (that and having to turn your e-book reader off when the plane takes off and lands).  

VIII      Enterprise IT Struggles to achieve very modest gains... 

...with executive purchase decisions captured between large cash holdings, increased Asian competition, and their own poorly performing customers. Although "big data" is the marketing cry, vendors in this market will find a general reluctance to spend. 2013 looks like another defensive year, except for the security segment, with no serious enterprise Windows 8 adoption and not much else going on. The screws are already tightened.

We say  This is another 'don't underestimate Microsoft'. For one thing, Windows Server 2012 has huge benefits for enterprise. For another, if the CarryAlong market really is as large as Anderson predicts, Surface is going to take a chunk of it as the only tablet with Office. And while IT departments are saying their users can't cope with the new Windows 8 interface, those users are bringing the devices they want to work. Unofficial Windows 8 adoption could easily outpace timid official projects — but don't forget that 2013 is the year the enterprise finally puts a stake through the heart of XP.

IX         "Hacktivist" efforts acquire an important and permanent role in political transparency...

...moving from the level of annoyance to becoming an important, long-term part of the international political and security landscape. Nations and leaders hoping to hide the truth from their constituents will have to give up this option, paving the way for a new era in reluctantly open governments.

We say  Alternative, populist political movements are important — but with so many members of Anonymous scooped up by the security services or descending to hacking innocent organisations like disability sites 'for the lulz,' hactivism is a very broad church.   

X         Supply Chain Security Becomes a Major Factor in Global Technology Purchases

Starting with the high-security risk offerings from Huawei, the feeling of cyber unease on the part of inventing nations grows, and has a material effect on vendor market share among countries that can afford to prioritise their infrastructure security over short-term price advantage. Recognition that today's supply chains are virtually all compromised will lead to plant relocations and a new set of business opportunities for onshore component makers.

We say  It's not Apple bringing jobs back to the US, it's Foxconn building a plant — probably heavily automated. But on-shoring is more than the political pawn it became in the US presidential election: it's also a political hot potato. The combination of China's GDP slowing and the truth that foreign companies never get equal access to the internal Chinese market makes manufacturing in China about building cheap rather than investing for a new market. And that leaves the question of how secure intellectual property is, and what we do about these concerns.

As ex-MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove said in conversation with Mark Anderson about his predictions, "Business visitors to China should assume any devices they take with them will be compromised and any material you have with you will be accessed and will be exploited if it is of economic value — unless you take sophisticated measures". A Symantec representative in the same conversation talked about the joint venture the company had been involved in with Huawei, which it backed out of at a profit, and then noted carefully, "the question is, how much of our IP is no longer our IP?" What impact does all this have on that beleaguered enterprise IT budget?

Editorial standards