Every year there are a bunch of articles this time of year predicting what will happen in 2012. So I’ll join the fray and reference a few with my own thoughts, mostly about mobility.
- BlackBerry users continue their exodus
This is low-hanging fruit. I’ve been on this bandwagon for a while. I’ll amend his prediction to say RIM abandons the North American market for the third world, where they are currently making their money. They will focus on the BES in the North American marketplace. If they were smart they would focus on enterprise customers instead of consumers, but there is no evidence of good decision making at RIM. RIM should be bought by Google for the BES business alone in order to help Google get a foot hold in the enterprise back-end space. If not Google, the next most likely buyer is Microsoft, followed by Amazon.
- Apple Releases the iPad3
I think the iPad3 will be incremental, like the iPhone 4S, but will continue to dominate the consumer space. With no real competition at this point, there is little incentive for Apple to introduce innovative features that may be hit-or-miss. The real prediction in the tablet space will be Windows 8. Business are craving an enterprise-oriented tablet, and the inclusion of Microsoft Office will make Windows 8 tablets sell like crazy to business customers. Business users want Excel and PowerPoint on their tablets in meetings. The lack of Office on a Windows 8 tablet or late delivery will kill the platform.
- NFC gets real traction – but not for payments
There are not enough phones with NFC support today. Until NFC is common in phones, there is no incentive for businesses to adopt it on the other side. Users have two year contracts, and very few normal folks change phones during the contract time frame (unless you are an iPhone addict, and still no iPhones have NFC). So even if a bunch of phones get NFC in 2012, there will not be enough users to cause a change. Currently there is no widespread NFC infrastructure on the non-phone side because of that, so it will be 2013 before the common user gets NFC.
- Make that two mobile shakeouts
Mobile device management (MDM) will be huge in 2012. 2011 saw the proliferation of bring your own device to businesses. The enterprise will have to figure out how to do this securely, and I think MDM is the key. I agree this will cause buyouts and consolidation.
- Google finally gets its Android act together
I think Google side-steps the fragmentation by buying RIM/BES to get an MDM solution, and adapting it to hook into Android as a core feature that still allows the hardware makers to customize Android in crazy ways and still be secure for business. The good news for Google is that users largely blame the hardware maker and not the OS for issues with their phones. Google is selling to the hardware vendors, not the consumers directly, so they have a large incentive to please those vendors.
- Amazon buys Netflix
No way. Netflix is the biggest user of the Amazon cloud, and probably a huge source of revenue for that business, which is really important to Amazon’s future plans. Why buy your biggest customer? Unless Netflix is going to go out of business, there is no point for Amazon to acquire them, it will hurt their cloud business.
- Video Conferencing on Phones
Video conferencing has not caught on and still won’t in 2012. Why? No one really wants everyone to see you while on the phone for lots of reasons. PJs, bathrooms, hair, and many more.
- Users lose confidence in Android, WP7 gains because of this
Again, I don’t think users blame Android as the problem, but the hardware vendor, whose name is prominent on the front of the device. Look at bad reviews for apps in the MarketPlace. The disgruntled users often list their device. The fragmentation is squarely on the hardware vendors’ shoulders, and they will pay for bad implementations. There is no alternative OS for the hardware vendors. (Bada? MeeGo? Can I get Angry Birds on that?) Users are not smart enough to understand the problem and move to a platform consistent across hardware vendors like WP7. It would be great if Google would stand up to vendors and reduce the crapware and customization, although Microsoft never has for Windows and still dominates. Android is open-source after all, and fragmentation is one of the often discussed possible outcomes of an open source project.