What’s your big tech prediction for 2013?

by , Deputy Technology Editor Technology 29 December 2012
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We’ve had the smartphone boom, and the tablet armada is busy conquering all corners, but where’s the next big tech explosion going to come from? And who will set it in motion?

2013 on TV

If you’re an avid tech watcher like me, 2012 was rather like watching the Christmas episode of Eastenders – everything appeared to be new, but deep down it was all the same old stuff given a fresh coat of paint.

Microsoft was the only company to launch anything genuinely new in the form of Windows 8 and its Surface RT tablet, or ‘Microsoft Surface with Windows RT’ to give its full (stupidly long) name.

Truth be told, Windows 8 and Microsoft’s much-touted ‘touch revolution’ is more of long-distance runner than a 100m champion. It may pick up pace in 2013, but a launch founded on the idea of a tablet ‘that can do stuff like Word, Excel and PowerPoint’ was never going to set hearts aflutter – unless your heart beats very slowly and sensibly. A tablet that costs more than an iPad has to do more than that to convince me to switch sides.

Mobile and tablet wars diminishing

Meanwhile, Apple and Samsung (and Google) continue to wage an increasingly boring war in the mobile and tablets space. Putting aside all the patent shenanigans, it’s increasingly looking like a race to the bottom – as evidenced by the excellent Google Nexus 7 tablet and Apple’s response, the iPad mini. This is all par for the course – once a market is established, it’s a process of evolution with very occasional spikes in innovation along the way.

So will 2013 be another year of evolution, or is something *genuinely* interesting going to happen?

The smart money is on Apple’s oft-discussed TV set – it doesn’t take much intelligence to make this particular prediction:

  • Everyone keeps on talking about it, so you can hardly call it a well-kept secret.
  • Apple’s been responsible for the last two ‘big things’, so why not another?
  • Both Tim Cook and the late Steve Jobs (via his biographer) revealed Apple’s intense interest in TV.

Taking these points together, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in the making. Or is it?

Watch this space for Apple TV

For me, the idea that Apple will waltz into the TV market and take it by storm is a fanciful dream. That’s because designing a good looking box (or television) won’t get you anywhere. There’s no money to be made in selling dumb boxes and TV sets – ask any TV manufacturer and they’ll tell you it’s a hard sell these days.

No, content is where the money is and guess who owns the content? Here’s a clue – it’s not Apple. It’s more than likely that whatever Apple is cooking up involves serving up TV content in a new and innovative way, but to do so it needs TV and film studio partners to play along.

What’s more, Apple is arguably behind the game a little. Yes, it has Apple TV already – a neat little box if you want to stream films and TV or use Netflix – but it’s hardly alone. Indeed, in a rare reversal of fortunes, Microsoft is better placed than most thanks to its Xbox 360 console, which already has live TV courtesy of Sky in the UK. And since we’re on the topic, do you seriously think Sky, Virgin Media and their ilk across the world will roll-over for Apple?

I believe the next big thing will involve TV – it’s overdue a serious rethink. But it’s going to be a dirty, messy war for supremacy with few true victors, apart from (hopefully) you and me.

9 comments

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NFH

Not in terms of products, but as far as components go, I think we’ll see laptop manufacturers catching up with Apple’s lead on retina displays. Many laptops, even those with physically large screens, are supplied with very poor resolution screens, often less than HD (1920×1080). It’s high time that laptop manufacturers sold >200dpi screens as standard.

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dieseltaylor

Steam either producing a dedicated games machine that will be PC like, or a bootable games operating system for the PC. Windows 8 being the driver for change and Steam the company with most to lose. Gamers in general like the horsepower of the PC but are constrained by operating systems not being optimised.

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Chris Gloucester

Well I predict technological gizmos will take ever bigger leaps forward in the coming year. Gadgets will appear and make many of those existing, and many only comparatively recently existing, redundant.
Such is the ever increasing rate of techno advancement.
Many items will be really ground breaking and very useful, perhaps even more will be completely unnecessary but perhaps come with their own self created indispensibility, offering solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. That is indispensibility in the eyes of the techno freak gizmo addict.
My advice is buy what you really need and if it keeps working use it on an ongoing basis even if the technical spec’ is exceeded in only a matter of months (as it probably will be)
Keeping at the cutting edge will get progressively more expensive (not to mention wasteful).

But who am I kidding, the natives who like shiny things will always go buy that latest phone, even though the one they already have isn’t very old and does the job just fine.
It’s the way of the world, reinforced by the “image creating” marketing industry everyday of the week.

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dieseltaylor

Perhaps Which? should be better serving its readers by not concentrating on the latest gadgets as their shelf-life is so limited. There are many magazines for those that drool over the latest technology and adding Which? to the mix seems redundant in my eyes.

It is a sign that the latest TV’s are not being used to their fully capabilities as people just want to watch TV. Having streaming Channels is fun and the net also but only a few use their full capabilities.

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mr somedoubts

Dieseltay you have a substantive point.Goodness sake this is Which a consumer group not a publisher for gizmo addicts. I have been banging on to Which about the original raison d’etre of Which. I have been a member of Which for-well a long time and the change in its remits seem to me seismic. Yes often for the better. Yes it must embrace new technology but why throw the baby out with the bath water.For instance why did it discontinue that excellent publication Health Which.Surely nothing is more important than being impartially and well informed on health matters. However I do see signs of change again back to some of the old ideals. As for technology contrary to what you may think on reading this I do indeed embrace it and I see the obvious advantages of such. However when Which starts to flag up the various technology trade fairs then at not inconsiderable expense sends its experts to these shows to inform on whats new, well I am sorry but to me that is not what Which should be doing. They should stick to the original remit purchase the technology on our behalf-test-and then let us know whether it’s any good or not? Posting videos from these trade fairs getting all excited about a new gizmo and then damning our expectations after the usual lab test is not what Which should be doing. An example the Canon G1X camera caused much excitement at one of the trade fairs amongst the contingent from Which, only to fail the BEST BUY TEST.This is just one recent example that comes to mind.Please leave the trade fair visits to the commercial magazines and invest Which’s time and money In a wider panorama of consumer matters.

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Dave R

Agreed. Let us have some value for money best buys as well. Not just the best on test. eg, why is the Nexus 7 not top of the best buys when it is only 10% less on rating, but 50% less on price. A bit more rational thought and less following trendy thingswould be great.

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S J Hersom

Never mind the gizmos I think 2013 will start to see increasing use of all the data that people are collecting about us as we travel around. It isn’t just Apple and Google who know where we are: the provision of free wifi is done so shopping centres and coffee shops know who is visiting, what they visit and when.

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wavechange

My prediction is for a smartphone that will run for a week on a single charge and will not be damaged if used in the rain. I know it’s a bit much to expect.

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Gerard Phelan

Many evolving products are about to reach the ‘good enough’ point, after which people lose interest in incremental improvement. For example HI FI systems stopped being sought after when almost all audio systems were ‘good enough’. They still exist and improve, but only for a specialised purist market.

This year I think TV picture quality and screen sizes will now be ‘good enough’ such that the average viewer will not want anything better. TV control systems are the only component still in the dark ages, but could well be fixed outside of the TV itself by smart controllers.

This year I think the top range Smart-phones will be found ‘good enough’. With copious memory, rapid internet access, brilliant screens and more apps than the mind can safely consider, then only battery life and greater resistance to breakage will inspire current owners to replace them.

This year I think the wheels will stop rolling on the Broadband bandwagon IN MAJOR towns. Here once the average person has a reliable 20Mb or more download, then there is no incentive to spend more cash on more speed. It should be business as usual elsewhere, but the greater outer urban and rural installation cost vs market expectation of downward costs will ensure ongoing disappointment for many years.

So what is new? For ME, I only believe in media I can touch, like my DVDs, CDs, paper books, LPs and cassettes, but researched articles describe real peoples lives in which every item of media they own is in the ‘cloud’. I think we are close to seeing one of these ‘clouds’ blowing away in a technical or financial storm leaving perhaps millions of people bereft of what they thought they owned with no way back. This might lead to an interesting discussion of what it means to ‘own’ media.

I think we may see a real Armageddon in the US or European courts in which one of the major players gains a final verdict in the patent or ‘way of doing things’ wars to the extent that all other rivals are forced out of business or forced to revert to 10 year old technologies.

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