ReadWritePredict is a look ahead at the technology trends and companies that will shape the coming year.
In 2014, the mobile Web will die. That’s right, that bastardized version of the normal Web will crawl into a shallow grave and leave us all in peace. No more websites crippled with horrible “mobile.yourawfulwebsite.com” URLs. No more reading janky websites that display way too much fine print or omit crucial features when viewed on your smartphone or tablet.
How will we kill the mobile Web? Not with kindness, that’s for sure. The death of the mobile Web should be ruthless and efficient, coming on the backs of development, iteration and innovation. Google, Microsoft and Apple will lead the charge.
This year, we saw a lot of developmental gains in the browsers on mobile devices:
- Apple updated Safari in iOS 7 to be faster and more agile
- Google showed off its newest version of its Chrome browser at Google I/O in May this year to show the same website running on a PC, tablet and smartphone without a hitch
- Microsoft’s latest Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1 RT and Windows Phone 8 is the fastest and most diverse that the company has ever created
- Mozilla unleashed its Firefox OS on the world, a browser-based mobile operating system designed on the principles of HTML5.
The mobile Web will die because the companies that make the engines it ran upon are killing their mobile browsers and replacing them with fully functional versions that run on any device. In 2014, these browsers will be updated to put the final nail in its coffin.
In turn, developers will continue to build websites that can work across any screen size. Responsive design (what we do at ReadWrite to make the site look pretty everywhere) will continue to grow in 2014 as people realize that their old websites are losing them a lot of traffic from mobile devices.
That’s the prediction, at least. Now it's up to 2014 to prove me right.
Last year I went out on a limb with my mobile predictions for 2013. As always, the prognostications were a little hit and miss.
I said that BlackBerry (then still Research In Motion) would kill it with the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Today, BlackBerry announced a $4.4 billion quarterly loss.
OK, so I pooched that one. Badly. But I got the next one right when I said that Microsoft would continue to iterate and expand with Windows Phone. While Microsoft hasn't yet hit it big with its rival to iOS and Android, it's still gaining ground, so I'll count that as a win. With Nokia now in its fold, next year may be the acid test for Windows Phone.
I was right when I said that Apple would release the iPhone first and the iPad second this year, as the iPhone was released in September and the iPhone in late October. A minor prediction for 2014: Apple will do this again.
Google twerked me with its Android releases in 2013. I expected Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie and thought we'd see three different iterations of Android this year. Instead we got two: the Jelly Bean 4.3 update in July and the KitKat 4.4 update at the end of October. The age of the major Android update is over, and we'll continue to see iterative updates over time. This is not a prediction; it's merely a fact. In 2014, we will likely see two new versions of Android at mid-year and the end of the year.
Motorola didn’t make a Nexus device this year. It did make the Moto X, which is the next best thing. Motorola will likely continue with the Moto brand of devices in 2014 without making an actual Nexus device.
Location-based consumer apps didn't let me down; as predicted, they remained stagnant this year. Foursquare and its kindred just are not hot anymore, even if Foursquare did just raise a funding round this week.
On the other hand, mobile payments continued to gain traction. Personally, I use a mobile payments app every day with the Square Wallet at my local coffee shop. Mobile payments may never be the techno-utopia that everybody envisioned in 2011, but the industry is beginning to take shape. In 2014, we will see more people start using apps like Google Wallet and Square to pay at retailers everywhere. It won’t be a major step, but a progression of small ones.
1. There Will Be No Apple Television Set
That’s it. Let’s quit it with the rumors about an actual Apple TV set until Tim Cook is showing it off on stage.
2. The Apple iWatch Cometh
This is a far more realistic goal for Apple than shoehorning its way into the crowded, complicated and expensive TV market. An iWatch would be an accessory to your iPhone—not a revolutionary product, but a useful and likely very popular one. The bold prediction: the iWatch will come in the spring and be touted as great way to track your fitness routines, taking advantage of the iPhone’s M7 motion coprocessor.
3. Samsung’s Lead In Smartphones Will Decline
This may actually be underway already, given rumors that its Galaxy S4 flagship phone is selling only about as well as its predecessor, the S3. That wouldn't be terribly surprising, given the S4's underwhelmingness, Samsung’s over-the-top marketing and its love of not-terribly-reliable software gimmicks.
Samsung smartphones just aren't as sexy as they were in 2011 and 2012. Clearly, the company will continue to sell vast numbers of devices, but its status as the global mobile powerhouse will slip. That's going to create an opening that Motorola and HTC can and will seize.
4. HTML5 Takes Over The Mobile Web
5. Google Glass Becomes A Consumer Product
In so many ways, 2013 was the year that Google Glass got beta tested. The Glass “Explorers” program was rolled out to a small subset of techies and Google got developers on board for future apps for Glass. It's time for Google to unleash its interesting and controversial cyborg headsets on the world. Prediction: Google will announce Glass for the masses at Google I/O with a retail price of $299.
6. Android Goes 64-Bit
This isn't actually much of a bold prediction. ARM announced a 64-bit architecture a few years ago with the aim of making it to the mainstream by 2014 or so. Apple has already proved that ARM can work on 64-bit with the iPhone 5S and the iPad Air. Expect Samsung to roll out the first 64-bit ARM chip in a popular Android smartphone, with the blessing of Google.
7. The Concept Of “Mobile” Will Die
Since 2007, when Apple squeezed the power of a PC into a phone, the technology industry has been working to create the same systems, functionality and processes to work with this new class of computing device. Consumers, enterprises, advertising, industry, agriculture … everything that computing touches has been working to catch up with the mobile era.
Eventually it will catch up and instead of thinking of things as “mobile” specifically, it will just be seen as a way to use a computer from anywhere and everywhere. The era of ubiquitous computing is already upon us.