As we approach the end of 2014 it is appropriate to say that 2014 was the year of wearable devices. What trends do we expect to see for the 2015?
On the desktop front we will be seeing Microsoft’s new desktop OS come out – Windows 10. It looks like Microsoft has learned its lesson with Windows 10 and it has fixed a lot of the annoyances of Window 8/8.1. The big change is that they have finally brought back the much loved Start menu and have combined it with some of the Windows 8’s tiles. When using Windows 10, it feels like a polished evolution of Windows 7 & 8 combined. I know that sounds confusing but they have brought the best of both OS’s and merged them into 1 great OS. I have been using the Windows 10 tech preview as my only platform for the last few weeks and so far have to say it’s a great OS. My only concern is that I am not sure if Microsoft can expect users to spend more than $50/device for an upgrade licence.
On the smartphone front, the big drive has been around screen sizes. When Samsung brought out the first ‘phablet’- the Galaxy Note back in October 2011 – most people thought they were crazy. The market couldn’t see a need for such a large device and who would want to hold a device that large to the side of the head? Well 3 years later and the census is that Samsung was right. There is not only a market for such a size device but the market is now getting quite crowded. The latest well publicised entrant into the ‘phablet’ market is no other then Apple. Yes Steve Jobs famously said that no one will buy a phone that large. Well not only was Steve wrong, Apple now have joined in and are selling ‘phablets’ too. So why are people now flocking to buy the larger smart phones that only a few years ago laughed at? The answer is quite simple. We are now all addicted to our smartphones more than ever. It’s not to use them as a phone but to use them as everything else but a phone. I ventured across to the ‘phablets’ with the release of the Note 3 and it was to fix a trap I like many others had got myself into.
I had purchased a tablet to use in combination with my laptop. The idea was to not take my laptop around everywhere I went and instead take the tablet instead. In reality I found that the tablet wasn’t a replacement for my laptop and I was now carrying around my laptop, smartphone and also the tablet. So instead of traveling lighter, I was traveling heavier due to my addiction to read and be online where ever I was.
After researching options, I decided that the Note 3 would be better suited to replace my smartphone (the Samsung S3) and my tablet (iPad). This has been a perfect fit. The only time I now use the iPad is if I want to read at home.
This leads me to another trend for 2015 – the tablets. Although Microsoft has now been in the market with their ‘true’ tablet OS – Windows RT for 2 years, nearly everyone but Microsoft has stopped manufacturing these tablets. So in real terms the only 2 players in the market is Apple and Google. Unless you’re an Apple devotee, the chances are you will look at a tablet running Google Android.
As this market is such a fiercely contended market, the manufacturers are trying to differentiate themselves from each other in anyway they can. And for most, this is done by offering exclusive functions or software on their device.
As I have mentioned before more and more businesses are moving to the cloud and this trend will continue in 2015. We will start to see Microsoft be more aggressive with their offering by integrating the products more into cloud platforms. They have recently announced that they will be integrating Dropbox into their Office platform. It is also interesting that they have dropped the requirement of having a paid Office 365 subscription to use the iPad/Android versions of the Office Suite.
We will continue to see more and more software vendors either migrate their products to be provided as a cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS). Companies that are not doing so are going to struggle to survive and are losing market share to their competitors that have done so. This cannot be more evident than when you look at MYOB and Xero. MYOB who were once a household name when it came to bookkeeping/accounting software has now been finding it hard to stay competitive as they left their migration to the cloud very late.
With the continued pressures of reducing cost and being able to remain agile as an organisation, more and more business will see themselves looking at outsourcing their none core functions. This is a very wide and varied move that is impacting nearly all market sectors, and industries.