As the dust settles on 2012, it’s time to glimpse what 2013 has in store for us. The year 2012 saw an avalanche of gadgets. The tech terrain was trying to make space for every consumer type with devices of every size, shape and to meet every budget. From smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks to hybrids, socially integrated cameras, HD displays and smart TVs, we saw it all. The next year is poised to take these technologies a notch higher, and the consumer is sure to benefit from it.
Vishal Tripathi, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner, believes that in the coming year we will see a lot of convergence of technology, devices and even players in the market. And what will drive trends is the price-point of the products. He says, “What we will see is convergence of all kind of devices. We will see tablets, hybrids, smartphones, but one thing that will be common is more computing power for a better cost. Products are getting powerful, but at the same time the market is getting much more competitive. Also, gone are the times when a brand could dominate a single space. Now it’s more cross-functional, cross-device scenario, as there is a convergence of different players, hardware, vendors etc.”
We spoke to the key players in the industry to know their plans for 2013 and what they predict for the New Year in tech.
Year of the smartphones
Apple and Google continued to innovate at their usual fast pace and gave us two more powerful iterations of their respective OSes, namely, iOS 6 and Android Jelly Bean. But it was Microsoft who stole the limelight all through the year, unfolding its products one after the other. It is in 2013 that the number of Windows Phone 8 devices will hit markets in full swing from companies like Nokia, HTC and Samsung. Moreover, RIM will try to bounce back with BB10 devices, which is not a mere upgrade from the existing operating system but a complete overhaul. Slowly, the smaller phone makers are also gearing up to offer smartphones at affordable range for budget consumers. Clearly, next year is going to be all about smartphones.
Talking about its Windows Phone 8 devices in India, Microsoft said, “Windows Phone has done well in India and the response from both consumers and business users has been extremely positive. It has also received positive reviews for its innovative and refreshing features. Enthused by the positive initial response for Windows Phone 8, we look forward to the array of new devices by different hardware partners including HTC, Nokia and Samsung.”
Amit Mathur, Director Sales at Research in Motion
Now, it isn't going to be just these three platforms fighting it out; the year 2013 will also be deciding RIM’s fate. This year was almost no-show for the company, but by the end of January 2013, it will be launching BB10. Amit Mathur, Director Sales at Research in Motion, tells us, “The mobile landscape is preparing for another shift, and with BlackBerry 10, we are at the start of a new era of mobile computing, that is why we built a new platform on new architecture from the ground up, not just a new device. RIM will focus on both the enterprise and the consumer market.” For next year, he predicts, “2013 will see colossal strides of innovation in the field of smartphone processors, NFC, 4G, and, of course, applications. The hardware of the smartphones has to keep pace with the giant leaps taken in the software segment of mobile phones and thus we can expect to see enhanced and more sophisticated hardware specifications in phones in future. The OS war is heating up and the smartphone industry will climb onto the next phase of evolution, i.e, Mobile Computing.”
Nokia has been coming up with some nifty features to strengthen its mobile foothold with wireless charging, imaging and entertainment for phone users and predicts that next year will see flourishing growth in the mobile space. “With increasing Internet access on phones, smartphones will march towards dominance. The year 2013 will be the year of bigger touchscreens, faster processors, powerful cameras, useful apps and more importantly, navigational tools. Smart devices for entry level users who aspire it all on their phones, be it apps, music or mail will also be a huge trend,” says Vipul Mehrotra, Director and Head, Smartphone Devices, Nokia India.
Needless to say, consumer expectations and demands have been on a rise from smartphones, as they expect their phones to work almost like full-fledged computing devices. Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director – Asia South, NVIDIA says, “Today, consumers expect to have the same kind of computing experience on their mobile device as their desktop or notebook PC – HD video playback, streaming video and audio, multitasking, browsing the web, 3D gaming and 3D interfaces. Consumers are demanding this experience on their handheld devices without compromising on battery life, security or reliability. However, mobile users often face the power-performance paradox, where one would have to turn off many of the ‘smart’ features of their smartphones to get longer battery life. Tegra 3’s unique 4-PLUS-1 technology helps get around this paradox.”
Sanjay Maheshwary, Marketing Head, Mobile Communications, LG India
Sanjay Maheshwary, Marketing Head, Mobile Communications, LG India, predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will become the primary means of surfing the Internet, competing with the Windows system. Smartphone penetration is also likely to increase in 2013 thanks to the growing affordability of smartphones.
Phones with 1080p displays
Physical keypads are already passé and touch panels have their roots firmly grounded in the tech terrain. This will continue to strengthen in the year 2013. We will see manufacturers work at strengthening the touchscreen and the viewing experience. In fact, some have already upped their game with 1080p touchscreens. Shashin Devsare, Executive Director, Karbonn Mobiles, says, “I think the time is right for Karbonn Mobiles to delve into full HD or 1080p displays. The technology is novel and we are definitely working towards it, which should materialize the same by 2013. Although Karbonn Mobiles has devices with full HD support, we shall very soon be taking a giant leap in the direction of full HD display in the smartphone category as well and hopefully, will be out with our 1080p display smartphone by the next financial year.”
On the other hand, Sanjay from LG India predicts, “By mid 2013 itself, high end smartphones with 5 inch display and 1080p displays would become common. Full HD displays, with their insanely detailed screens, will do some major rounds in the mobile industry. A 1080p screen has text so sharp that it can cut you, and HD videos play without any hiccups. Since 1080p screens need a lot of power, smartphones that sport the said displays would come with quad core processors and abundant internal memory.”
Apps to gain prominence
The humble apps that have provided us with information, entertained us and much more, will increasingly play an important role in the coming year too. The number, quality and types of apps will provide an edge to one OS over another. The result of the recently released 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report also highlighted the increasing prominence of apps. Nearly 84 percent of respondents in India divulged that mobile applications are important to their daily lives as compared to the global average of 70 percent. Little wonder then that the major players in the market are gearing up to spruce up their app store.
The recent Windows 8 launch also witnessed various initiatives from Microsoft to encourage app developers to develop apps for the Windows 8 platform. A statement from Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. says, “App support has been one of the crucial aspects for any device. Keeping the same in mind, immersive apps are the focal point of the Windows 8 experience. Apps are clean, beautiful and intuitive. Windows 8 apps are connected and alive, keeping you up-to-date on the latest news, weather, social media updates and more, without effort.” Even RIM, which is about to unveil its BB10 platform, was seen wooing the developers and has even opened up all the API’s for better app integration. In the coming year we will also see more focus on quality apps, with major players like Microsoft and even RIM having introduced measures to review and certify apps before they are published in the app store.
Nokia, who is trying to regain its foothold in the market, too realises the importance of apps and has trained its attention on developing apps that provide value, particularly location based apps and services. Vipul Mehrotra of Nokia India says, “Location-based services are core to Nokia’s overall vision to build products that sense the world. These services represent the future of mobility, and we are building a Location platform to create a digital, predictive model from all the places and objects in the physical world, including people’s activities. We have build apps, like the recently launched HERE maps for Nokia and Apple devices, Nokia Maps, Drive, Transport, Traffic, City Lens for Lumia devices and Nokia Nearby for the Asha range of Smartphones. Also, augmented reality will become an important aspect to the mobile world in 2013. Even though Augmented Reality has been around, the expected boom should happen in the time to come. More and more augmented reality apps will be downloaded as it has become a key means of engaging with consumers.”
Vishal Gondal, Managing Director – Digital, DisneyUTV
When it comes to app development, according to Vishal Gondal, Managing Director – Digital, DisneyUTV, ‘freemium’ model is what will pave the way, he says, “‘Free’ is the next big thing for sure! For app developers, the freemium model is fast emerging. The term ‘freemium’ is devised using two powerful words ‘Free’ and ‘Premium’. A freemium app is offering an app free of charge while charging a premium for advanced features, functionality or related products and services. Freemium apps induce user engagement, help build communities and spread a good word around too. The upsurge in mobile apps has already caught the attention of brands and marketers with innovative products like app jacket, app wrapper etc., which help the brands reach out to their consumers through apps. This will only intensify in 2013 with in-app advertising and many such innovative products. Most importantly, every platform functions because of the content it has for the audience; same will work here. With Apps gaining immense popularity and dependability, in the end it is the kind of apps and the usability that it all comes down to. The year 2013 will surely witness a lot more innovative, personal and unique apps.”
Talking about trends in apps, Deepak Abbot, Vice President, Product, Zapak Digital Entertainment says, "We should be witnessing more apps branching out to televisions, game consoles, and other connected devices this year, apart from phones and tablets. Another trend we will see increasing this year will be increasing prevalence of shell apps, where native apps can be found on App stores but entire functionality is taken ahead by HTML5, one such example is Facebook. These wrapper apps will also end up on web as HTML5 improves. Further globally we will also witness in store mobile use to increase this year."