What will technology bring in 2013?

Let’s start by getting all the easy straight-line projections and known facts out of the way.

  • Tablets and smartphones will continue to gather momentum, PCs will decline in importance.
  • New Zealand’s mobile carriers will press forward on plans for 4G or LTE phone networks with blistering speeds.
  • The UFB fibre network will reach more New Zealanders. It’ll transform some towns – I’m looking at you Whangarei – and will start gathering momentum with business users. Most suburbs will still face a long wait to get connected.
  • Hardware makers will continue to spray consumers with a bewildering array of devices.
  • Touch screens will be everywhere.
  • The march to the cloud will continue. More and more software will become browser-based.
  • Big data will get bigger.
  • Security will still be an issue for businesses.
  • The mobile wallet will arrive.

OK, that’s the easy stuff. Now I’m going to stick my neck out with more daring forecasts. You can come back and give me abuse this time next year if I get these wrong:

Dirt cheap hardware
Cheap tablets and smartphones will appear making the technology available to everyone. Expect to see tablets and smartphones for as little as $100. That’s a throwaway price. It will change the way we think about devices. People can take risks buying kit, quickly dumping it if it doesn’t deliver. Kids can take them to school without parents panicking over replacement costs.

Companies, newspapers or ebook stores, will be able to give away cheap tablets with content subscriptions. Devices will be used as lures for all kinds of services. These devices may or may not be locked.

Voice input, output
When I first worked as a tech journalist in 1981, I was at a press conference where I was confidently told full voice recognition was just two years away. I heard the same thing every year for the next 30 years.

Now, at last we’re getting there. Apple’s Siri and the voice tools built into Windows Phone 8 show the technology’s potential. So do products like Dragon DIctate. Computers are powerful enough, software is clever enough, this year we’ll see voice wrapped into more apps. One of them could be the killer app needed to kick-start the voice computing era.

Rural broadband will surprise
The government’s RBI network being built by Vodafone and Chorus will transform rural life and start delivering serious economic benefits. It may not happen in 2013, but I suspect once the results are in, the government or service providers will be happy to pour more money into rural communications because of the higher than expected return on investment.

3D printers take off
Printing in three dimensions isn’t for everyone, but the market in 3D printers will take off in 2013. The devices are already cheaper in absolute terms than the first laser printers were back in the 1980s, in real money that makes them cheap. Expect to see lots of clever 3D made items turn up in shops and homes.

Do you have any risky, non-obvious predictions?

 

2 thoughts on “What will technology bring in 2013?

  1. I can’t see why people want voice input, other than as a novelty.

    When I am with a device I am either:
    1) at work (don’t want to be talking to my computer as work with other people and it would be damn annoying if we were all doing it and embarrassing if only I was).
    2) at home (don’t want to interrupt tv viewing/other people’s quiet time in the lounge, don’t want to be loud at night).
    3) in transit (I walk so it’s too loud to hear anything back and most likely for it pick my voice out anyways).

    The only two things I can think of is being able to communicate complicated instructions via natural language and having a computer execute said instructions – this requires a lot more than just knowing what words you are saying though – and real-time translation.

    My predictions are:
    Social will evolve beyond a single site ala facebook to more of what Google is doing ala Google+. Facebook will still be around for you to talk to your folks.

    Aggregators will become more important than the content; current sites (like B&Bs, Community groups, etc) that are small and serve no retail purpose will be absorbed by services powered by social means like Google Places/Communities, Yelp, FourSquare.

    Phones will finally have enough power to power a full desktop but ‘one brain, many bodies’ will not catch on in the mainstream.

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  2. I’m not sure if you are talking just from a NZ perspective or generally, so here goes:
    I think the mobile wallet will arrive in some places, but not in the way we take EFTPOS for granted. It will arrive together with certain applications, perhaps POS apps such as VEND and with certain software such as Google Wallet or Apple Passbook with chains such as McDonalds.

    I don’t think we will see the dirt cheap tablet hardware of any quality in NZ, there are already cheap devices now, but cheap and nasty comes to mind. India and other countries, a totally different story, it is already underway.

    Voice input, I am starting to enjoy Siri, it is much better than I thought.

    3D printers will take off when there are plenty of open source files available, They were selling at Big Boys Toys from around $1500, but not a lot to make yet. When it does take off at consumer level it is going to go ballistic and will be incredibly disruptive at all levels from toys to tools to biotech.

    Augmented Reality could be the wildcard that saves the print industry and get people enjoying an immersive environment from newspapers to books and even junk mail.

    Google will make huge inroads towards machine intelligence with Ray Kurzweil. Search will start appearing almost prescient, as if the answer appears before you consciously ask the question. I have more, but have to stop for now:)

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