Arik Hesseldahl

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Carryalongs Dominate, Enterprise Struggles and Hacktivists Rule in 2013

It’s December, and word here in New York is that Mark Anderson, the analyst and CEO of Strategic News Service, is in town. That means it’s time for another round of his predictions of what he thinks are some of the big trends to watch in technology in the year ahead.

As with previous rounds of predictions he has made — like for 2011 and 2012 — some of what he predicts already kind of makes sense if you’ve been paying attention to the way things are going, but will become more pronounced in the coming year. Others are a little more surprising.

1. “Carryalongs” Dominate Global Computer Markets
Anderson lumps notebooks, tablets and everything in between into a category he has labeled “carryalongs,” and he says they will take their place as the largest segment of computing devices. “Surface and slates and iPads and Kindle Fire and Nexus 10 and everything else that’s got a 7-inch screen plus or minus an inch or so, will be the biggest category of computing device.” Okay, then.

2. Intel: Long Live the King, the King Is Dead
Intel may still be the biggest supplier of chips to the world’s computing devices, but if you look at prediction number one, you know that Intel doesn’t yet play a significant role in the “carryalong” market outside of traditional notebooks. “Qualcomm and ARM are the new William and Kate,” Anderson says. Intel is primarily a supplier to the world’s server vendors. With CEO Paul Otellini retiring in May, the one way out of its current troubles will be to name a new CEO with what Anderson says are “real tech chops.” Otellini, he says, “marked the first time a marketing guy got the CEO job at Intel. Before that they were all engineers, except Craig Barrett who was an operating guy.” Intel, he says, “has lost the consumer stuff, the handheld stuff, the slate and tablet stuff. All it has left are servers. It has lost the mastery that it had.”

3. Net TV Dominates
A majority of U.S.-based homes will have Internet-connected TVs and related products like AppleTV, Roku boxes and so on. This will fundamentally change the production of content in new and interesting ways, and the result will be a lot more cheaper content. “This is going to become what TV is, and the result is that the cable and satellite companies are going to have a tough time. With the exception of sports, this is the end of cable as we know it.”

4. The LTE vs. Fiber Battle Creates Regional Revolutions in Broadband
In certain regions where the only broadband Internet option is a DSL line, LTE wireless devices and services will become the standard replacement, where LTE service is available. “In most cases you’ll be paying more, but you’ll also be getting more. This is a really interesting flip in some regions. It will be interesting to see this fight because it has a lot to do with what’s in the ground.” It will mark the start of a fight between LTE and fiber optic technology that will take a decade to resolve and what Anderson says is a “real revolution” in broadband pricing and provision.

5. Google Gets Its Mojo Back.
Google’s efforts in email, video, smartphones, maps and driverless cars have in Anderson’s opinion opened up new long-term paths for expansion at Google. Having killed off several products and services that weren’t seen as core to its operations, Google will in 2013 look a lot more focused and powerful when compared to Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, he says. “Google has turned an important corner where after all the experimentation, it has created a number of true businesses where they have a foothold and terrific products, and there are more to come.”

6. The Driverless Car Becomes a Serious and Competitive Global Project
And speaking of Google’s driverless car, that’s going to become a thing over the long term. Volvo plans to become a player. It’s not just a curiosity, it will in the future become a real market, he says.

7. eBooks Are the books
Total ebook sales in dollars will beat adult paperback sales in 2013, Anderson says, and will continue on a growth trajectory toward dominating the entire book-publishing business.

8. Enterprise IT Struggles to Achieve Very Modest Gains
“Big Data” may be a big marketing cry that keeps people talking about enterprise IT, but combined sales of hardware, software and other enterprise tech will collectively grow very little on a global basis. “The year-to-year spending increase will be very small, maybe only 1 to 2 percent, even though the companies doing the spending are sitting on trillions in cash.” One exception: Security.

9. Hacktivists Rule.
Hacktivists like Anonymous and those like them will take on an increasingly important and, Anderson argues, permanent role in forcing political entities to become more transparent. They’ll cease being annoying and actually become a longer-term part of the political and cultural landscape. The result? After struggling to keep their secrets, governments will be forced, in time, Anderson says, to become more open.

10. Supply Chain Security Becomes a Major Factor in Global Technology Purchases
“Maybe all that outsourcing wasn’t such a good idea after all” will be the thinking of many CEOs who’ve spent the last decade or more arguing that lower production costs brought about by inexpensive labor costs in China, Taiwan and other countries will cause a big re-think over security concerns. Academic researchers in the U.K. claim to have found what many people have only silently worried might be possible: An unpatchable backdoor on a military grade encryption chip built in a Taiwanese fab. Companies in what he calls “inventing nations,” exasperated by the constant theft of intellectual property that is often traced to China, will grow increasingly uneasy at their relationship with that country and look for ways to bring more production back to their own shores. A new phrase — “clean supply chains” — will gain currency in tech manufacturing circles and will amount to an admission across many industries, not just tech, that today’s supply chain arrangements are “virtually all compromised,” Anderson says. This will lead to talk of ways to relocate manufacturing operations back in the U.S. and other countries. It won’t be easy — China will retaliate against companies that say anything like this publicly. “You almost have to decide to do what Google did and all but leave the country.” Apple is already doing it. Others, he said, will follow.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald