It’s end of the year, and I’m a big betting man . I’m therefore making a potential fool out of myself by predicting some things that I think will take place in the tech world in 2013. All of these are related to big companies, so you can call this the “Tech Giants Edition”. And as always, I’m willing to admit I was wrong .
1. Apple will release a fully net-based TV
After Tim Cook said that TV is an area of “intense interest” for Apple, an Apple TV is a given. The TV is the only screen that Apple doesn’t sell yet, and the TV industry is ripe for disruption.
Expect Apple’s TV to be fully net-based, with everything streamed off the cloud. It won’t have a traditional TV tuner, but instead streaming channels from the familiar stations. And there will be apps – many, many apps – which will make TV the next big app ecosystem, and interactive TV reality once and for all.
The interface will be novel, whether gesture, voice, touch or a combination thereof, and might also control other devices. The device will be slim and gorgeous, as can be expected. It’ll launch in the US first, and because of the local content deals will take long to reach other markets. It’ll also be much more expensive than other TVs, which won’t deter sales one bit.
2. Microsoft will release a phone
Microsoft is becoming a hardware & software company, and fast; it seems Apple’s approach of building “the whole widget” has won Redmond over. Conventional wisdom says that Microsoft won’t release a phone as that would anger its manufacturer partners, such as Nokia and HTC. But they already released the Surface tablet, and did exactly that with the PC manufacturers.
So next year, expect Microsoft to release a Surface-branded Windows Phone, erm, phone. That is, unless they acquire Nokia or HTC first, in which case the acquired company will release it. But in all cases there will be a Microsoft phone in stores next year.
3. Google will release a desktop version of Android
Google is dominant in smartphones with Android, but nowhere in desktops yet. The struggling Windows 8 has left a hole in the desktop marketplace for Google to fill, and it’s inevitable they will. Otherwise they’ll be giving away gains in that market to Apple.
In 2013, expect Google to release a desktop version of Android. Samsung will be an early partner, and other PC manufacturers burnt by Windows 8 and Microsoft’s Surface will flock to Android in droves.
The only alternative route to a desktop Android is for Google to continue pushing Chrome OS, their HTML-based OS for desktops, but it’s not fully baked yet. The Android app ecosystem is at least 100x larger, and having one single OS for all devices would be highly valuable for Google. And an alternative future might see Chrome OS merge with Android, but that’ll take longer.
4. Microsoft will have to admit failure with Windows 8
Windows 8 and it’s confusing interface has received enough flak that Microsoft won’t be able to dodge it anymore. Windows 8 is a bold and beautiful experiment, but the separation of the desktop and “Modern” interfaces will prove to be too complex for users to handle. If holiday sales for 2012 continue to be disappointing, the company will soon have to admit failure and revise course – at least to an extent.
Microsoft won’t change the Metro (“Modern”) UI completely, but they’ll revise it significantly with their upcoming “Blue” release, to make it more familiar to long-time Windows users. Expect the Start menu to return, at least in some format, and the most maddening aspects of the OS to become less confusing.
These redesigns will in turn appease businesses, which will start migrating to Windows 8.5 or 9, whatever it’s called, in 2013. Also, Microsoft will move to a yearly launch schedule with Windows a lá Apple, a long-expected move.
5. Apple will redesign the iOS user interface
The core of Apple’s iOS hasn’t changed since 2007, and it’s long overdue for a transformation. In a recent Apple management shakeup, revered design guru Jony Ive was made head of all user interfaces at Apple, both for hardware and software. With Ive’s new responsibilities, iOS will most likely undergo a significant redesign starting from next year’s release.
Expect the much-derided skeumorphism (design that looks like real-world items) to disappear, to be replaced by something sleeker and smoother. And expect the interface to become more “live”, a lá Windows Phone 8 – I’m looking forward to the Weather icon showing the actual weather. While we will see the first elements of this redesign in 2013, it won’t be completed until the next year, as it’s a longer process.
(Also, expect Apple to launch a Retina iPad Mini – but it’s such an obvious one that it’s barely worth mentioning.)
For me & Planetify 2012 has been a great year. As for my own resolutions, I promise to blog more actively in 2013.
Thanks for reading, and have a great New Year!