The Technology industry always moves fast and is always forging ahead but I can’t help but think this past year has been a bit disappointing. When I look at the big guys I did not really hear anything that was game changing. What have been some of the big things over the past 5 years? The launch of the iPhone was huge and created a blazingly competitive Smartphone market. We had the iPad and the race for the tablet space. Because of these innovations mobility took on a new meaning and social media in the form of Facebook and Twitter took off. These past 5 years have been a very exciting times, however when I look back at 2012 to be honest despite all the hype, the technology was kinda dull. Lets review some of the players.
Facebook: Big news in 2012…a disastrous IPO. Not sure if this will make a big dent in my life unless I buy low and sell high. That is if Facebook can figure out how to monetize its user base and generate significant mobile revenue. Right now we are in a phase of more promise than delivery. They already look like they are trying to tackle search in a new manner, with Graph Search. However for Facebook I think 2012 was more about the IPO an d getting grounded as a publicly traded company. I am actually rather optimistic that they can (I own zero shares), but as far as technology goes not a whole lot came out of Facebook in 2012, let’s hope for better in 2013.
Amazon: Though there were many before Amazon really seemed to have the right mix when it came to the eReader space. They combined a slick device the Kindle with the right content as they had access to all the major publishing houses. However 2012 was really just an improved low-cost Kindle Fire. Though improved there was nothing earth shattering that came from this Seattle power house. What I do see Amazon changing is the whole notion of a supply chain from end to end with their Amazon Cloud services on into their devices and how they hook in to the Cloud infrastructure, creating the underpinnings of a digital lifestyle. Not sexy on the surface but down the road this could yield huge consumer rewards.
Microsoft: It was a big year for Microsoft with the release of Windows 8, the new Surface Tablet, what looks like a competitive Smartphone, so why am I do bored by it all. For beginners a new OS with a new look and feel is nice, but when was the last time an operating system came out that actually changed our day-to-day lifestyles? Windows 8 is not a game changer, it does not advance the world of the OS by using touch screen. The Surface tablet was big but not for any great technical break through. It was radical in that Microsoft made it and opened up the competitive landscape by competing with its traditional OEM partners. Finally the Windows Phone though nice and a compelling offering in the smart phone space, it is that just another offering
Apple: We had new Mac Books. the iPad Mini, and the iPhone 5 but these to me are just improvements on what already existed. Yes they will sell millions, but there was nothing really “wow” in any of these releases. All it showed was a competitive market becoming increasingly price sensitive. Though Apple still can demand a price premium, due to its great consumer reputation and phenomenal customer loyalty, there was no game changing piece of hardware or software this year. It becomes a question of what new market with Apple target and change, they tried to dethrone Google Maps (a really poor choice in my opinion) with disastrous results. Apple is successful when they change the competitive landscape not go head to head in battle. the next big battle ground and opportunity will be Television, one which Apple, Google and Microsoft are all trying to redefine in different ways.
Google: They have had a strong year and in some ways the best year of the aforementioned companies, I am impressed that withe their Google Glasses and venture it robotics with their automobiles they are targeting new territories that may be uncomfortable, but down the road could be very profitable. On the “today” front it was more of the same. Some new Android releases, their own tablet, the Nexus 7, a new Chrome Book, better features in Google Docs…all very nice and I think in some instances will take market share. However nothing really big on the consumer front. I would add though in Chrome Books and Google Docs there is an opportunity to change the traditional computing a paradigm. Technical folks will know the difference not sure consumers will except in their wallets.
Samsung: To me Samsung is becoming the GE of the tech space, providing cool hardware . They have taken the mobile market by storm with their slick Android based mobile phones and a lot of Galaxy tablets. They are on the verge of releasing a phone with their own OS. However I do not see Samsung now or anytime in the near future doing anything breakthrough. They are a company that just takes an existing device and technology and makes it cooler, not a bad place to be and though I do not see them being a leader in innovation. However they are more than capable of being a leader in taking market share.
Though I thought 2012 was kind if a dud on the horizon there will be breakthroughs that alter how we live, work and play. Though I am not sold on the idea of Google Glasses I am excited on the idea of taking computing out of shrinking boxes (mainframe–>PC–>Laptop–>Netbook–>Tablet–>Smartphone) and applying it to brand new use cases. The TV is set to undergo a fundamental change. Now what that is remains to be seen and I am not sure if that will be 2013. Here is hoping for a more exiting 2013 where we change the competitive playing field and where true innovation compels market competition.
Good Night and Good Luck
Hans Henrik Hoffmann January 18, 2013