January 2014

Predictions for the Mobile World in 2014, Part One

by Joey deVilla on January 23, 2014

alexander-crystal-seer

It’s been a long-standing tradition in the tech press to make predictions for the next 12 months at the start of a new year, and they’re not about to break with tradition. We decided to do a roundup of predictions for the world of mobile tech made by some of the big tech news outlets and technology vendors, with our summary and take on what they think will happen this year. This is the first of two parts, and we make no guarantees as to whether or not they’ll come true. Rather, we feel that they’re valuable not for their accuracy, but as a source of insight into their thinking.

CNET’s Top 10 Predictions for the Mobile Market in 2014

CNET’s focus is on technology and consumer electronics news, so it’s no surprise that their predictions are about just two topics: the wireless carriers, and mobile device vendors. The one unifying theme of their 2014 predictions is that the vendors, whether for wireless service, smartphones, or tablets, will be competing even harder for your dollar.

  • cnet-prediction-themeCarriers will pay more attention to the “value segment” of the market and offer more pricing options, especially for the budget-sensitive.
  • They’ll also lobby hard in Washington in anticipation of the upcoming auction for pieces of the AWS-3 spectrum, a range of frequencies formerly used by the Department of Defense, but now freed up for commercial mobile services. Simply put, access to mor frequencies means more data carrying capacity, and that’s something carriers will fight tooth and nail for.
  • More carrier mergers and acquisitions, or at least attempts at them.
  • T-Mobile will continue following their “uncarrier” strategy: eliminating contracts for personal accounts and roaming charges for more than 100 countries, removing device subsidies, letting people upgrade early, and giving away free data. It doesn’t hurt that their CEO, John Legere, has become a bit of a hero of the little people, what with trash-talking about the competition and gate-crashing their parties.
  • Sprint emerges stronger from its rebuilding year, after going through a painful, but necessary process of replacing old infrastructure and getting LTE set up.
  • Things will get worse at BlackBerry before they get better. They’ve got defecting customers and a tarnished image, but they’ll also come out with new devices for emerging markets (built by Foxconn) and a new focus on the enterprise.
  • Microsoft will kill the Lumia brand and simply sell devices with the now-absorbed Nokia’s design and mobile knowhow.
  • Apple and Samsung will continue duking it out in the courts.
  • Unlocked phones will become mainstream, what with plans that encourage customers to take their phones with them as they switch carriers and notifying customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked.
  • LG up, HTC down. LG will reemerge as the hot Android device maker, after having built two excellent Nexus devices for Google, receiving critical (if not yet commercial) praise for the G2, and their general good performance in the home electronic markets. At the same time, HTC, despite having made the excellent HTC One, is facing difficulties and doesn’t have the size or reserves to endure a long down period.

Read CNet’s predictions

Network World’s 12 Big BYOD Predictions for 2014

If you had to sum up Network World’s predictions for BYOD in a single sentence, it’s “Change is coming, and it’s going to be a pain in the corporate hindquarters.”

  • byod-security-bombshellCOPE (Company-Owned, Personally-Enabled) devices will become more popular. Employees don’t really want to foot the bill for devices that they use at least partially for work, and the COPE model allows for both more complete device control and personal use.
  • BYOD will go beyond just smartphones, but extend to tablets and even laptops as employees, particularly millennials, prefer to choose and customize their own devices. Forrester analyst David Johnson observed the trend in 2013, and expects it to continue into 2014.
  • They predict a “BYOD security bombshell” for 2014, as malicious parties will find it too tempting a target with too many opportunities for exploitation. BYOD’s become big enough, yet is still to new to have fully-formed security tools and techniques.
  • They also predict the end of stipends, even though they cite Forrester analyst David Johnson saying that they’ll increase. Network World says they’ll disappear because it’s an employer’s market right now, and companies have no incentive to provide many perks, while Johnson says that if BYOD expands to include tablets and laptops, stipends will grow to cover them.
  • After a couple of years from evolving from gatekeeper to enabler, IT will spend 2014 shoring  up networks and systems to make them secure for BYOD.
  • It’s expected that IT departments will attempt to assert control over BYOD, leading users to revolt. This shouldn’t be surprising, as mobile devices (and back in the 1980s, the PC) were first brought in by “rogue workers” who felt IT moved too slowly.
  • A Microsoft tablet turnaround: according to a Forrester survey, while the iPad was the most-used tablet, when asked about BYOD tablet plans for 2014, Windows 8-based tablets were the most popular. We’ll have to see whether the actual outcome matches what the survey participants said.
  • Mandatory BYOD gained momentum in 2013, and this led Gartner to predict that by 2017, half of businesses will require employees to provide their own phones for work. Network World expects that Gartner’s prediction will come true, and 2014 will see more companies requiring BYOD phones as a condition of employment.
  • There will be even more competition in the MDM market, as more companies get into a market that grows more lucrative with the increasing adoption of BYOD.
  • They predict the end of legacy apps, which rely on old browsers (especially IE 6 and 7), or are behind firewalls, or are dependent on desktop clients. As employees use mobile devices more and more, companies will move to SaaS (Software as a Service) to ensure that their applications can be accessed any time, anywhere.
  • While companies have been working to make their applications accessible to mobile devices, not every bit of legacy software can be ported over. For these applications, virtual desktops are a good workaround, and Network World predicts that BYOD and the general use of mobile devices will give virtual desktops a new lease on life.
  • “Wearables wreak havoc” is the way Network World phrases Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder’s prediction that wearable computing devices — smartwatches and the like — will take the enterprise by storm. It would seem that their attitude is “We’re still dealing with your mobile devices and you want us to take on something else too?”, and it’s quite possible that a lot of IT departments feel the same way. If that’s so, then the “rogue worker” prediction above will definitely come true.

Read Network World’s predictions

Ericsson Consumer Lab’s 10 hot consumer trends for 2014

The consumer lab division of Ericsson, who used to make mobile devices with Sony until 2012 (they still build the underlying technologies), prepared a booklet on their predictions for the hot consumer trends of 2014 for mobile technologies. Not only has a focus opposite that of Network World — consumer, rather than enterprise, but so is their more positive outlook. They do agree with Network World on one issue, however: change is coming.

  • data-useJust as PCs at work and home reached a large enough number to change the way we work, live and play, mobile devices will hit a number large enough to change everyday life and drive demand for a new set of services enabled by mobility. A number of areas of life, including shopping, restaurants, leisure facilities child/elderly care, communication with authorities and traffic, will be changed by offering services via mobile devices.
  • “Your body is the new password,” says Ericsson’s report, referring to the increasing use of biometric data, such as fingerprints, as passwords. Using fingerprints as passwords solves a few problems, but it introduces a whole new set, which we’ll cover in a later article. For now, let’s just say that there are reasons why security experts cringe whenever someone says they’ve solved the password problem with biometrics.
  • The concept of “the quantified self” — the constant measurement of ourselves with technology — will become more popular. Thanks to GPS, smartphones can function as pedometers, apps that use a mobile device’s camera and wearable peripherals like the FitBit can track heart rate, and scales and other health devices like those made by Withings can send their readouts to mobile devices and computers. Mobile devices make it easier and more convenient to have a better gauge on our health, and such uses will become more prevalent.
  • People will expect not just internet access everywhere, but a good connection as well.
  • Thanks to smartphones, which are less expensive than full-blown PCs, the “digital divide” will be reduced, with more people worldwide having internet access. In developing countries, smartphones are often the primary internet device for most users.
  • In spite of the various privacy and security issues (including the recent breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus), most people will still feel that the benefits of going online will outweigh those concerns. Rather than avoid making use of online services entirely, Ericsson’s Consumer Lab reports that 93% of the people they surveyed would rather be cautious and follow a “risk mitigation strategy”.
  • Social networks will play a greater role in determining what people watch online, and much of those recommendations will be driven by influencers. According to Ericsson, 38% of the people they surveyed watched videos recommended by their friends several times a week, but only 22% recommended videos to friends several times a week.
  • People will want to know how much mobile data they’re using, to better manage their mobile devices and mobile spending. 37% of smartphone owners use apps to test their connection speed, and 48% use apps to measure their data consumption.
  • Sensors everywhere: with more interactive services will come the demand for our surroundings to become just as responsive through sensor-based services such as doors and  gates that recognize you and automatically unlock (we’ve had this on newer cars for some time now). There are privacy concerns: more than a quarter of smartphone owners were uncomfortable with the idea of store sensors that made recommendations based on purchases by people with similar profiles.
  • More people will “time and space shift”, that is, watch a video in one place on one device, pause it, and then continue watching the video where they left off in a different place, and possibly on a different device.

Download Ericsson Consumer Lab’s report [1MB PDF]

Eric Schmidt’s 2014 predictions

Google’s executive chairman says “the trend has been that mobile is winning; it’s now won”. He’s certain that big data and machine intelligence — and its availability through mobile devices — will be a big disruption. He also talks about Google’s biggest mistake: missing the rise and importance of social media.

In the Next Installment…

…we’ll cover ReadWrite’s and Netbiscuits’ predictions for the mobile web, as well as Techspot’s and CIO’s forecasts for mobile technology.

this article also appears in the GSG blog

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he likes tablets - she prefers paper

“Emma” is a funny ad featuring a technophile husband trying to push the benefits of tablets on his wife Emma, who’s a little more old school and prefers paper. He discovers that there are still some reasons to stick with the old ways:

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3d model of the save icon

Found via Programming Geeks on Google+. Click the cartoon to see the source.

I wonder how long developers — especially Windows developers, who are by far the biggest culprits — will insist on using the now-defunct floppy disk as an icon for “save”.

Not too far behind floppy disks are optical disks, which appear on John Atkinson’s “Alphabet of the Obsolete”:

alphabet of the obsolete

Click the image to see the source.

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minds beat money 3

minds beat money posterIf you’re in the Toronto area next Tuesday, January 28th, and you’re an entrepreneur looking for brain food, you should check out Kinetic Café’s and Saul Colt’s event, Minds Beat Money 3.

Here’s the event description:

Being an entrepreneur is extremely rewarding but can also be difficult. So many decisions to make daily, and while advice is everywhere, free good advice is getting harder and harder to find.

This is why Kinetic Cafe and Saul Colt dreamt up Minds Beat Money.

It’s a different kind of Entrepreneur Event.  Our featured startup eProf will “pitch” a problem they are facing or an idea they are playing with to our panel of experts and in real time the experts will do a creative workshop to solve that problem or validate the idea…but wait, there’s more!

This startup will get an additional 2 hours of workshop time with the experts to really make this a game-changing opportunity for the presenters and an interesting show for the attendees tired of the traditional networking event.

Between the presentations will be a Q&A with a surprise guest!

minds beat money 2

Kinetic Café have a writeup of their last Minds Beat Money event, featuring e Wondereur.comDossiyaThe White Ribbon Campaign, Ryan Taylor from Fair Trade Jewellery Company, and Grocery Gateway co-founder Scott Bryanwho’s now with Eventi Capital Partners.

Minds Beat Money 3 is free-as-in-beer to attend — sign up on their EventBrite page.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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If you go to HP’s “Desktops and all-in-ones” page, you’ll notice something interesting:

windows 7 first

They’re promoting computers with Windows 7 pre-installed, as opposed to computers with Windows 8. In fact, they’re even stating that Windows 7 is “back by popular demand”. The Verge has noticed this, pointing out that even in the section for all-in-one computers, the Android device is listed first (because the listing is by ascending price, and the Android device is the cheapest):

android hp

This harkens back to the days when Vista was the current operation system, and many people were stubbornly sticking to XP — so much that Paul Thurrott recently tweeted this observation:

I would still recommend that if you get a new computer, get one with Windows 8.1, as it’s fixed a few of Windows 7’s speed problems, and run it in “pretend it’s Windows 7” mode by having it boot directly to the desktop.

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shadow it

burning chrome

“The street finds its own uses for things,” is a quote from William Gibson’s short story, Burning Chrome, which has become an often-quoted aphorism used to explain that people often find unintended uses for technology.

The term “Shadow IT” sounds like something that Gibson would’ve coined for one of his cyberpunk novels, but the term was most likely invented by IT pros. Shadow IT refers to systems or software used by people in an organization without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. A group of people opting to use a spreadsheet that they email back and forth instead of a company-approved means of storing and sharing crucial data (I know of at least one Fortune 50 company that does this), employees using Evernote and DropBox to share notes and files, an enterprising developer who builds an unsanctioned custom piece of software to simplify or automate an onerous task — all these are examples of shadow IT. As you’ve probably surmised from the term, IT departments take a dim view of these unsanctioned (and often unknown-to-them) tools and technologies.

You’ve probably already guessed some of the implications of shadow IT, some of which are:

  • Security risks
  • Inconsistencies and incompatibilities with company systems and methods
  • Wasted investment in company systems
  • Increased risk of data loss and leaks
  • Animosity between employees and IT

With all these downsides and articles warning of the dangers of shadow IT, many of which have been explained to employees time and time again in emailed memos, employee manuals, and training sessions, why do they insist on using shadow IT?

This Dilbert cartoon explains it quite nicely:

mordac

In many companies, the IT department is seen as being like “Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services” from Dilbert. They’re the technology dictators, the people whose job seems to be to get in your way rather than help you get things done. That perception doesn’t just with employees, but with the people providing services that often make up shadow IT, such as 37signals, builders of web-based work tools. Here’s an excerpt from an article in their blog, titled The End of the IT Department, in which they talk about IT departments being replaced by tools like theirs and people’s increasing tech-savviness:

If businesses had as many gripes with an external vendor, that vendor would’ve been dropped long ago. But IT departments have endured as a necessary evil. I think those days are coming to an end.

The problem with IT departments seems to be that they’re set up as a forced internal vendor. From the start, they have a monopoly on the “computer problem” – such monopolies have a tendency to produce the customer service you’d expect from the US Postal Service. The IT department has all the power, they’re not going anywhere (at least not in the short term), and their customers are seen as mindless peons. There’s no feedback loop for improvement.

At the same time, IT job security is often dependent on making things hard, slow, and complex. If the Exchange Server didn’t require two people to babysit it at all times, that would mean two friends out of work. Of course using hosted Gmail is a bad idea! It’s the same forces and mechanics that slowly turned unions from a force of progress (proper working conditions for all!) to a force of stagnation (only Jack can move the conference chairs, Joe is the only guy who can fix the microphone).

You no longer need a tech person at the office to man “the server room.” Responsibility for keeping the servers running has shifted away from the centralized IT department. Today you can get just about all the services that previously required local expertise from a web site somewhere.

It’s no wonder that according to a recent study by Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan [842KB PDF, 13 pages], 80% of knowledge workers use software or services in their work that have not been officially cleared for use by IT. It’s not that they’re setting out to disobey IT or expose the company to risk; it’s just that they find the sanctioned tools don’t cut it, and that the IT department seems to refuse to respond to their needs. So they went out and found better, more suitable tools on their own initiative.

stages of grief

It’s time for IT departments to move through those stages of shadow IT-caused grief as quickly as possible to “acceptance”. As Arthur Cole says in his IT Business Edge article, Shadow IT: A Problem of IT’s Own Making:

As the traditional gatekeeper to data infrastructure, IT has long been viewed as a barrier to progress rather than an ally, and clamping down on shadow IT would simply perpetuate that view and pit IT against business units in a never-ending turf war. Or, IT could adopt a new role in the enterprise that stresses management of both internal and external resources, as well as things like contract negotiations and billing, as a means of providing a value-added service for the new distributed, software-defined data ecosystem.

And already, management platforms are incorporating the tools to do just that. CA, for example, recently launched the new CA Service Management system designed to afford business users the flexibility to compile their own mobile and collaborative environments while preserving centralized control for IT. The system provides a unified approach to accessing services, support and related assets, plus customizable support for mobile platforms like iOS and Android. As well, it promotes automated self-service, collaboration and knowledge-sharing as a means to propel enterprise resource delivery to the level that users have come to expect through their experiences with Amazon, Dropbox and other providers.

It seems, then, that shadow IT is neither friend nor foe, but simply a fact of life in the new data paradigm. If you try to fight it, you’ll probably lose, so for the sake of IT, and the enterprise in general, the best approach is to learn how to leverage it.

Adriana “Andi” Karaboutis, Dell’s Global CIO, encourages her fellow CIOs to Stop Chasing Shadow IT, and Start Chasing Innovation:

When you work in a technology company and have 110,000 best friends that understand technology well and probably even better than you do, you have to be out there working, listening and determining how you can create even more value for the employees and customers that you serve as opposed to being defensive about owning IT … It’s no longer good enough to just be there enabling them; it’s working together side-by-side to co-create value and power and enable the company together.

And finally, this CIO slideshow, Shadow IT: Onetime Hidden, Often Hated, But Well Worth Embracing, puts forth these five cases for embracing shadow IT:

  1. Bandwidth: IT departments can only take on so much work, and third-party services can help lighten their load.
  2. Requirements: Shadow IT simplifies the requirements-gathering phase because the people making the tech happen are the people who have to use it, and know the problems, processes, and needs.
  3. Culture: Shadow IT provides a way for employees who have mastered the tools of the trade to gain some recognition for having done so.
  4. Lubrication: It cuts down on the friction that so many smaller, lower-priority but still necessary projects and bottlenecks face because the payoff isn’t as visible or as big a deal as big, attention-getting “IT projects”.
  5. Innovation: Shadow IT is sought out by people who believe that “good enough isn’t good enough”. You should be encouraging these mavericks, not stifling them!

The use of shadow IT at your company suggests that there are needs that aren’t being met, and that people are actively helping themselves and looking for solutions. You should view this as an opportunity to help them, and perhaps even to recast IT as an enabler rather than a barrier.

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Google’s contact lens for diabetes patients, and Microsoft Research’s version from 2011

google smart contact lens

People with diabetes (who number almost 400 million worldwide) have a metabolic condition where they have high blood sugar either because they’re not producing enough insulin or because their cells don’t respond adequately to insulin. They manage their diabetes by checking their blood sugar levels several times a day, a process that usually involves some form of being poked with a needle.

Google’s latest announced research project is a contact lens that measures the glucose content of its wearer’s tears, which is a function of that person’s blood sugar level. The lens functions as a circuit board that houses the components and a circular gold foil antenna that lies outside the pupil’s visual range. Google says that their research wing, Google X, is working on the project not so they can eventually build and sell diabetes-monitoring contact lenses, but to publicize the work in order to find medical company partners to develop them.

As TechCrunch notes, Google’s not the first tech company to build such a product. Microsoft Research released this video that makes mention of a similar project back in 2011:

It turns out that a member of Microsoft Research who was working on their smart contact lens project, Babak Parvis (a former professor at University of Washington), is now at Google, where he works on Google Glass and the smart contact lens project. Once upon a time, the brain drain worked in the other direction, with Microsoft absorbing bright lights from other companies, including Anders Heljberg from Borland, who ended up revitalizing their programming tools and creating the C# programming language (which in my opinion, is an improvement on Java).

California tech entrepreneur beats “glassing while driving” ticket

cecilia abadieCecilia Abadie made history last year as the first driver to be given a traffic ticket for driving while using Google Glass, based on the California traffic law that states that you can’t drive while watching a monitor. She was initially pulled over for speeding on Interstate 15, but when the officer saw that she was wearing Google Glass, she was issued a second ticket for “driving while glassing”.

Both the speeding and “driving while using a visual monitor” charge were dropped by San Diego Court Commissioner John Blair for lack of evidence. The police office who ticketed Abadie matched her speed with his car, and an expert did not show up at court to testify to the calibration of his speedometer. Abadie also testified that her Google Glass was off when she was driving, and there was also no proof that the Glass was turned off at the time.

My guess is that a whole host of legal and social problems could be solved by building some kind of indicator into Google Glass and similar wearables that indicates to other people that it’s on, perhaps something like the light that comes on when the webcam on your laptop or desktop is active.

Chinese pirates see no upside in making knock-offs of wearables

galaxy gear - pirates wont copy it

Click the photo to see the cringeworthy ad it came from.

While working on a story where they went to China to learn how the tech “knock-off” industry works, CNN reports that tech counterfeiters, who only copy devices that will help them make a profit, are quite obviously not making copies of wearable mobile devices.

They note that at Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei (pronounced “Wa-chang-bay”) commercial district, the place to go for original and copycat electronics and components, demand for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch is “ice-cold”:

“You won’t find any copies of the smart watch here. I’ve never seen or heard of any,” said a young man who was busy shipping off boxes, that he said were filled with counterfeit mobile phones, at a local logistics center.

“Thinking about it, I’ve never even seen anyone wear one,” he added.

If you’re curious about Huaqiangbei, here’s an interesting video published in February 2013, where Bob Jordan from AsianOps takes a tour of the electronics mall:

Diesel Sweeties’ amusing take on wearables

R. Stevens’ geek-and-hipster-centric webcomic Diesel Sweeties has an interesting term for Google Glass:

diesel sweeties borg mullet

Click to see the full comic.

“Borg mullet.” Heh.

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