Gadgets, personal computing, black Friday and 2013
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20 November 2012Craig Beattie
It seems like every time I have set out to discuss some new technology event a new one has popped up. It has been an epic year for news and new gadgets for all of us. This coupled with my discussions with insurers in recent weeks on the subject of Bring Your Own Device and the increasing number of mobile platforms has provided a different perspective on this growing complexity. 2012 has seen the rise of the smartphone as more popular than the simple mobile in many countries. There are arguments and articles arguing about who has greatest market share in different territories but for 2012, Apple and Samsung are the clear winners here. I love that Samsung's note has re-introduced the stylus i was using back in the 90's with my first smartphone. There's still noise about Apple TV's which aren't here yet, while Samsung have been making smart, gesture enabled TV's for sometime. Oh and there's plenty of noise about Apple maps - will Apple get local right like they did mobile or will they outsource like they did social (to Facebook and Twitter)? The iPad is still king of the tablets although has lost market share to cheaper - smaller Android based models which have grown in capability, specification and design. Apple has itself launched the iPad mini in the last couple of months and felt it necessary to compare how Apps for iPads are generally better designed (in the examples given) than Apps for Android tablets. Actually this year saw Apple refresh it's entire line up of devices, a much need refresh in some cases but 2012 saw Apple flex it's "biggest company in the world" muscles. Some however feel that Apple has lost the flair for innovation, lost their magician. Many are looking to Sir Jony Ive (oh yes, KBE) to see what he brings as he assumes a role only ever occupied by Steve Jobs in the past. Apple is still the brand the Exec's want, with many insurers now working on ways to or already enabling Apple devices in their enterprise. Meanwhile innovation has come from an unexpected quarter - a sleeping dragon perhaps? One not so asleep? I'm not speaking of Android here, which while I like the platform always felt too similar to the iPhone and desktop 'tiles of icons' approach for me to call it truly innovative. Now Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and the Surface - these are quite different, clearly influenced by Microsofts experience with Xbox and while I'll admit I don't like the interface yet, I can see me and a great many others getting used to it. I mentioned TV earlier and with Xbox Microsoft now has a route to phone, tablet, TV and laptop/desktop if you still need one - time will tell if the software wins people over but the sleeping dragon is certainly moving. The Surface is a strange device. Hardware built by a software provider to 'showcase their software'. The interesting thing is that anecdotal accounts suggest they got the hardware right but the software has a way to go. This frankly is the right way round. Once it's in the hands of the customer software is easy to fix but hardware isn't - provided the customer sticks around. It's not just customers watching the Surface though. IT departments are now supporting executives and business leaders who are carrying around a laptop and an iPad - the iPad seemingly unable to completely usurp it's predecessor but still preferable for many tasks. Could the Surface be the answer here? Not yet, seems to be the answer so far... Also IT departments are finding that they have different software for Windows machines, for Apple, for Blackberry, for Android - a single Microsoft solution could be very interesting. Ah, and I have mentioned the dark horse (or dark fruit?). RIM and the Blackberry brand still has a huge footprint, especially in the insurance industry, could BB10 turn their fortunes around in 2013? Insurers want a solution for secure phones and tablets with a simple administration ability but Blackberry has lost ground - could the once leader, now underdog and ugly duckling of the smartphones, make a comeback? 2012 was the year of Apple and Samsung in many ways, what of 2013? Will the jilted generation of Apple fans shift? I own a third generation iPad, all too swiftly relegated to "so last year" just a few months after release - there are plenty of angry blogs about new connectors with many saying Apple must innovate again to keep pace. A new connector was necessary and hardly an innovation - will the fans let Apple innovate? Will Microsoft continue it's slow march, quietly stealing market share or will it's coming software updates and apps win out? What of Blackberry this time next year? Will Google leverage it's Motorola purchase for a new Nexus line and what of Asus, HTC, Samsung and the others? It seems to me there's still all to play for in personal computing in 2013, with surprises on the way. For now after the gadget avalanche of 2012, a wealth of great gadgets to buy this Friday and holiday season.