As year-end approaches, the web is awash in predictions for the upcoming year. Not to be left out, here are the 10 biggest mobile stories I see in 2013. If you don’t have time to read it all, the summary is that a lot is going to happen, and the mobile landscape at the end of 2013 will be a lot different than it is now.
- BlackBerry releases BB10, will anyone care?
Unfortunately, RIM has missed the boat. In a smartphone market that it defined, if not created, the only ones who truly care about BlackBerry these days are its die hard fans. Everyone one else has left the building (a good writeup by Mark Suster details the exodus). In fact, it’s getting so bad that even the NASDAQ has dropped RIM from its NASDAQ-100, not a positive sign of things to come.
My prediction: RIM will spend a lot of time, effort and money trying to make BB10 relevant only to be forced to either sell the company or figure out how to migrate key BlackBerry features to Android.
- Microsoft attempts to buy their way to marketshare
In a last ditch effort to become the third ecosystem, Microsoft will spend an inordinate amount of money trying to buy market share and even release its own branded mobile device. The question is, can the market support a third mobile ecosystem? I used to think so, but this article by Kevin Tofel has me questioning otherwise.
My prediction: Despite spending a sum of money equivalent to the GDP of a sizable industrialized country, Microsoft will remain at less than 5% market share and enter crisis mode as their core product revenues begin to erode under competitive pressures from Google and Apple.
- Can Apple keep up with Android?
Apple keeps producing the hits with the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, but how long will it last? Apple is one missed product cycle away from falling behind in the mobile market.
My prediction: Apple’s desire to control the entire ecosystem will cause Apple’s market share to stagnate, effectively repeating what happened during the original Mac era. In fact, Android’s lead will grow as it is morphed and integrated into everything from appliances to automobiles throughout 2013.
- Can Nokia keep it together?
Nokia’s market share in smartphones has evaporated during 2012 as they hitched their fortunes to Windows Phone. The slide has been so catastrophic that it has completely eroded the value of one of the most well know brands in the mobile world.
My prediction: Look for Nokia to be taken over by one of the major OEMs, or sold off in pieces. There just isn’t enough time left for Nokia to pull out of its nosedive before it completely craters.
- The rise of Huawei
Some may be asking who, but there is a giant lurking in China named Huawei who is positioning itself to be a major player in the smartphone market.
My prediction: Huawei leverages its success at the lower end of the market in developing countries and begins an assault on markets in the US and Europe with both their entry level smartphone and surprisingly affordable high-end models that not only rival but threaten Samsung and Apple’s dominance.
- Amazon extends their mobile footprint
After success in the tablet market with the Kindle Fire, Jeff Bezos and company attempts to extend their product line with an Amazon branded phone.
My prediction: Amazon first attempts at a phone will fail, and possibly quite spectacularly, since a phone needs more than just good content to win users over. However, Amazon does not enter markets without a long-term plan, so expect a version 2 of their mobile phone in 2014 that will change their fortunes.
- Can phablets jump the shark?
The move towards ever bigger phones appears to be gaining momentum with devices that are over 6 inches in screen size being prepped for release.
My prediction: Phablets will be niche devices. Based on the usage habits of those around me, the 3.5 to 4.5″ screen size will remain the bulk of the market as it allows for the greatest portability, which is what a mobile phone is all about.
- Prepaid takes on contract mobile phone service
Nearly everyone in the US gets their mobile device subsidized in exchange for a two year contract with their carrier. When you go prepaid, you ditch the contract, but have to pay full price for your phone. What people fail to realize is that you can save a lot of money by going prepaid, in some cases over $1,000 during the life of a two-year contract. It more than pays for the up front phone cost.
My prediction: Prepaid, month-to-month service gains momentum as T-mobile looks to differentiate themselves and leads a charge to push people away from the subsidized model. I, for one, used to be a doubter but have been converted. I plan to switch my service to prepaid in 2013 when my current contract expires.
- Mobile web applications pull even with native applications
Yes, this may be self-serving given our business, but this falls under the general category of “never bet against the web”. Due to limitations in infrastructure and standards technology, native apps jumped out to a sizable lead in mobile, but the gap is closing, especially over the last 12-18 months.
My prediction: There are too many smart people focused on making HTML5 applications just as good, if not better, than native apps. Sure, native apps such as games and Instagram clones will have their place, but the majority of mobile development will begin transitioning away from native to the web. So while Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook may think HTML5 isn’t ready, there are others out there who would argue otherwise.
- The rise of adaptive design
Responsive design (the ability to scale web pages to screen size) has become a commonly used term in web design. 2013 will introduce a new concept – adaptive design. Adaptive design is the transformation of a website to match the user’s context, whether they are on a laptop, desktop, tablet, phablet or phone.
My prediction: Look for more and more websites to provide alternative experiences based on more than just screen size in 2013. Websites will also take into account things like location and user behavior to quickly serve context-appropriate content.
Bonus Story: Can Aumnia maintain a regular blog presence?
2012 has been a very busy year for Aumnia, and we were pretty lax when it came to our blog (and other social media sites).
My prediction: It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to start carving out more time to share our thoughts about the market, where we see things going, and what we’re up to during 2013. With any luck, I may even be able to average an article a week!