Technology, the engine of our civilization, is perhaps the fastest changing component of all times. When taking a look back on how inventions like cellular phones, displays and even the ways to harness electricity have evolved in the past decades, I am more than sure that you are curious about the future. Well, taking in consideration that we are approaching the end of an important year in this era, we set to present and foresee what technology has prepared for 2013.
While technology trends have always shifted, the need for more has remained constant. Following this philosophy, we expect 2013 to be the year of the average consumer, but without leaving burn marks on the back of business clients. The market for software and hardware products has expanded exponentially this year and it’s hard to believe that the trend will not apply for the next.
What does 2013 has in store for the tech industry?
As many analysts predict for the next year, it seems that 2013 will mean a lot of money for a lot of people. While most of us will be spenders, some circles of entrepreneurs will take advantage of rising start-ups and future trends to convert desire into pure gold. Here are the most notable ideas:
More money will be spent on technology
With the continuous growth of the technology market, whether we are talking about plain smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops or even about work-related solutions (routers, medical gear, etc), clients now have more options than ever. This diversity will result into a growth in technology purchases over the next year, with more than $2.1 trillion being expected to be spent in all segments.
Although diversity is the most influential factor of this change, people have also started to think differently about products. As the economic crisis has moved from USA to Europe, American citizens are now more eager than ever to upgrade equipment, and this trend seems to apply even to companies.
Clouds will strengthen
Just like with telecommunication carriers, Clouds will become the sub-networks of the internet. Thus, cloud companies with a successful number of clients will increase the number of data centers and as the components used to store data will become cheaper, clouds will become more affordable. Although we cannot actually predict if prices of something like Dropbox or Google Drive premium account will actually become cheaper, we expect that the maximum limit of a free account to increase, in order to survive against the vivid competition.
Moreover, besides seasoned players such as Microsoft, Dropbox, Apple and Google, smaller names are expected to join the ranks, by taking advantage of niches. For instance, clouds for medical use should soon launch and other specialized services like that.
Mobility will become more flexible
Personally, I am a big fan of mobility and customization. While the latter has always been directly proportional to the imagination of people, the former depends on technology means and evolution. In 2013, thanks to the continuous growth of the Cloud and the birth of many cloud companies, mobility will become even simple to achieve.
People will no longer be strapped by the chains of a single terminal, and through the use of extended identification methods like the Windows Live ID used primarily by Windows 8, people will have the advantage of migrating from machine to machine, and still enjoy their own environment. While Windows 8 is only at the beginning, large companies have also adopted similar methods and in workplaces like Ericsson, all you have to do is remember your Signum and all your settings will be ported to the desired computer.
In 2013, these patterns are expected to be widely adopted by even more companies and extended to even more purposes. For instance, why should you even go to work if you can obtain and efficiently use any resource available in the office, right from your own desk? As a result, cloud companies will become more wanted, mobile technology will become faster and data-centers will grow rapidly.
Tech Horizon will spread in new countries
A couple of years ago technology was all about US and then the rest of the world, but for those who want to stay above the fold, inter-country interoperability should be a primary goal. The need for tech will be extended into new markets in 2013, mostly found in the Central / Eastern European sector, as well as in Latin America, Middle East and other smaller regions. The expected growth will be so large, that around 33% percent of IT clients will be from these regions.
As a small example, Google’s official store can now be found in only 8 locations (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Japan). The demand for Google’s latest products, members of the Nexus line, has grown a lot and people exhaust stocks, whenever Google puts products on the line again. Without question, Google will be one of the firms that will extend its online stores in more locations, possibly targeting new regions of Asia and pay more attention to Europe.
Near Field and Wireless evolves
As NFC (Near-Field-Technology) becomes more widely spread, thanks to services like PayPal and Square, 2013 may finally be the year where people actually use their phones to pay for stuff, instead of credit cards and cash. Moreover, extensions of wireless concepts such as NFA (Near-Field Audio) will get even better, replacing the need of compatibility between Bluetooth standards and NFC protocols to actually stream content towards a device, without having to rely on wires.
Another step into evolution would be the use of wireless charging in broader industries, not only in top-end smartphones. As this concept has started to prove to be reliable, fairly easy to use and a bit more expensive than regular setups, we see adopters from many mobile sectors.
Printing in 3D will take a few more steps on the ladder
While 3D printing technology still sounds like something ripped out of a Sci-Fi novel, we have to admit that the future is very near. We already know about printers which produce low-complexity food for Google and there are project for building entire houses using this technology.
In the upcoming period, 3D printing might evolve in such manners that people will consider the technology reliable, and investors profitable. Although costs have already lowered for some models, the spark of some minds will push the limits of the moment and allow humanity to create wonderful things, at the push of a button.
A game of chess
Those who read the KickStarter page daily have probably noticed that more and more startups are arriving, some with incredible support and wonderful ideas. While many of these projects will hopefully become profitable and worthy of clients, giant companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are silently waiting for the next big-thing, to embed in their projects.
2013 will certainly be a year of mergers, where smaller but important companies will be attracted by the gravity of these black-holes of the tech industry and absorbed into void.
While start-ups are the main subjects for this kind of moves, even seasoned but yet-so-strong companies such as Netflix, Red Box, RIM and possibly even HTC may become targets. Remember what happened to Motorola, and just for the sake of a few patents.
Time is off the essence
With all due respect to the “century of speed”, people will value their time more and more in 2013. While the first and direct effect of this tendency is the overall increase of hiring costs, there is also a snowball effect that may be overlooked: evolution of software.
In a few words, applications designed to save time and make people work faster, and efficient, will be of fashion. Moreover, the way that people design software will become simpler than ever and those who will fail to adapt will probably perish into anonymity.
The most wanted toys of 2013
While trends, influences and other principles like that mean little for the regular consumer, 2013 will also be the year when several gadgets will emerge. We’ve gathered a list of the most wanted toys which will hopefully be launched next year, so people could make a general idea of a future wish list:
- Wearable electronics: innovations like the ones listed by Quora, measuring body parameters and monitoring life itself (the InteraXon Muse brainwave-sensing headband is also a good example) will certainly become a fashion in 2013. Also, those being fond of fitness programs can choose devices like the Nike+ FuelBand or the Misfit Wearables.
- Flexible AMOLED display: truly flexible displays, not like the ones already introduced this year by Samsung, may possible launched in 2013. The technology targeted is called FOLED (flexible AMOLED) and TOLED (transparent OLED), and WSJ has a hunch that they would be quite the attraction of the next year.
- New-generation TVs: the living room may also receive some upgrades in 2013, as Apple, Google or even Microsoft may bring something important in this segment of the market. The best bet right now is on the Apple iTV, a device filled with smart functions like built-in DVR functionality, revamped interface, an application store and a set of services.
- Kindle Phone: the one thing that Kindle’s line-up is currently missing is a smartphone. Although this is just a rumor, Amazon may launch a 5-inch wide device similar to the Galaxy Note or a small sibling of just 4-inch wide.
- Leap Motion: a concept similar to the one of the Kinect sensor of the Xbox, the Leap Motion technology can sit near a tablet or smartphone and detect gestures. This will allow users to flip through photos or reach 3D diagrams without actually toughing a thing.
- New consoles: without a doubt, the Xbox 720 and the PlayStation 4 are big members of the 2013 family, which we greatly expect.
- Smart Skin Phone: I remember Nokia posting a video with a project fitting in this category, where the whole phone body became an image, changeable by the user. In this matter, owners can take a picture of a mountain for example, and set it as a background on the entire phone.