I cover mobile technology and the “smartphone wars” in large part because of the scope of this multi-trillion-dollar market. But also because of the destructive power of these devices. Smartphones, for example, are altering social relationships, changing work, impacting how we learn. They are the ‘second screen’ for watching television and have created a generation that doesn’t care at all about radio, nor will ever see the inside of a Blockbuster. The smartphone is profoundly altering retail. Stores can track our movements via the smartphone, they can send us personalized coupons in real-time as we walk down aisles. We can snap a picture of a product, from inside the store, and find out in an instant if we can get it cheaper somewhere else.
Already, I use my smartphone to measure my stress, my heart rate, and to track how many miles (or not) I walk each day. It doesn’t work well, yet, but I can take a picture of my food and receive nutritional information of what I am about to eat (or not). In a few years, perhaps we will be able to analyze our blood, or determine on the spot if we have had too much to drink, say, using our smartphone screens.
Nearly every industry, every field of endeavor, is being touched by smartphones. They are the new personal computers. The winners of the smartphone wars will therefore not only be wealthy, but have a profound societal impact far beyond their sales numbers. With that in mind, here are my bold predictions for next year for the smartphone wars:
Google will rename its giant Motorola division Nexus.
Google will make numerous promises to the government of China, some public, some secret, that allows them to fully return to China, the world’s largest smartphone market – and a market where Android dominates but Google’s services on Android barely exist.
Apple will release two new iPhones next year. One will be the iPhone 5S. The other will be a much larger device, like the Samsung Galaxy Note or “phablet”.
Apple haters will love to point out how the “iPhone Note” doesn’t offer “true” multitasking or multiple “windows” – to watch video and text at the same time, for example. They miss the point. Apple’s OS is designed for focused activities, which is far more productive.
Realizing it simply cannot continue as an independent company, Nokia will be acquired by Microsoft.
Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, will let it be known that Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, is first in line to replace him when he retires.
Across all relevant measures, Apple’s iPad will dominate the tablet landscape. The most sales, the most profits, the most ad clicks, the most online purchases, the most web surfing – more than any competing tablet, tablet OS, or individual smartphone line.
Because of this, Google will build its various services – Maps, Email, Calendar, Google+ et al – first and best for iPad.
With every purchase of the Microsoft Surface, Microsoft will offer a free coupon for a “PC” version of Office. This will not help sales of either.
Apple will settle and/or drop all significant patent lawsuits regarding iOS, iPhone and iPad. Everyone on the planet can see how Android wholesale copied iPhone and iOS, down to the app icon and rounded corners. This does not matter. The costs of the suits and the potential awards, right or wrong, are such that Tim Cook will instruct his many legal teams to bring closure to the “thermonuclear war”.
Apple will sell more iOS devices in 2013 – iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch – than Microsoft sells Windows 8 licenses (all flavors – desktop, tablet, smartphone). The rapid irrelevance of all-things-Microsoft in the personal computing space will be shocking.
Hoping to become relevant in mobile, Yahoo will acquire Twitter.
Facebook will not offer a ‘Facebook Phone’ or Facebook Phone OS.
Amazon, however, will offer its own smartphone line, based on its fork of Android. This will be available to start in the US and sales/distribution patterned after the original but abandoned vision Google had for Nexus.
Google will sue Amazon for ‘harming’ their Android ecosystem.
There will be no Apple Television.
Siri usage will grow 10X. Siri continues to get better and it poses a legitimate threat to the future Google.
Apple will not license Siri, not yet, but will actively work with multiple car companies in 2013 to begin incorporating Siri into their vehicles.
Samsung will sell the most smartphones, followed by Apple.
iPhone will make more profits than the entire rest of the smartphone industry.
Samsung will continue to earn over 90% of the profits in the Android ecosystem.
In a pique of desperate foolishness, Blackberry will sell off what we all think of as Blackberry, probably to a communications company in Africa that has global aspirations. The actual Blackberry company – RIM – will use the proceeds to continue development and marketing of what we now call Blackberry 10. This is a doomed strategy. The world does not want Blackberry 10. However, millions still want the ‘old’ Blackberry with the great physical keyboards and BBM service.
There will be more than 1 billion active Android devices in use. There will be more than 500 million active iOS devices in use. I suspect that by the end of 2013, Android and iOS will have a combined install base of 2 billion.
Through aggressive marketing, price cuts and sales commissions, Windows Phone will achieve 6% market share in 2013.
One company, probably not Apple, will design and market a smartphone specifically to those persons age 70 and older.
That Steve Jobs – Ashton Kutcher movie will bomb.
South America will be the region with the highest growth in smartphone adoption.
Google will commission a multi-million-dollar study hoping to understand why Android customers use their Android phones so little, compared to iPhone users.
Jolla will remain irrelevant.
Google profits will peak. The smartphone is the computer. Smartphone ad revenues are no longer a supplement to PC ad revenues, but a destroyer of them. Google, however, does not and will not earn as much from mobile ad revenues, and profits will therefore suffer. Their profits will peak in 2013 (on an inflation adjusted basis). By 2014, revenues (and profits) from PC ads will begin to drop precipitously.
Right or wrong, the smartphone wars are the defining tech battle of our age. This market will prove far bigger, far richer, far more impactful than the ancient PC wars of the previous century. Share your thoughts below on what you predict will happen to the smartphone industry in 2013.