Four Tech Trends to Watch in 2013

In 2012, tablets and mobile phones continued to be a hot market, with new players like Microsoft and Nokia emerging in an attempt to make the space more than just iOS vs. Android.  Apple’s stranglehold on mobile looked to weaken slightly, as competitors in the growing 7-inch tablet market essentially forced the company to release the iPad Mini.

Social was owned by Facebook and Twitter, with the former makes waves by purchasing Instagram and going public. These moves caught some public relations heat, though, as Instagram made sketchy terms-of-service changes and the Facebook IPO flopped out of the gate.

The tech elite will continue to jockey for position in the new year, but emerging technologies and platforms will make 2013 interesting.  We won’t have to wait long to see some tech news in the new year; the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off January 8 in Las Vegas and promises to deliver tech’s new hotness.

Until then, here’s some trends to watch for:

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding broke out last year and, barring any limiting legislation, should rise in popularity this year.

Companies like Kickstarter (kickstarter.com) allow project creators to draw on the public for funding, avoiding the usual funding channels.   Consumers can pledge funds directly to projects they like, giving support to products and services that might never have gotten off the ground.

While several bigger projects saw $1 million plus funding in 2012, smaller, more local efforts were also successful.  Look for crowdfunding to fuel more ideas in 2013.

Cord cutting continues

With most television and movie programming available through streaming services online, it was easy in 2012 to cut the cord.  Next year, it might be easier.

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and the various network streaming sites already offer popular programming for low prices; even the added cost of streaming boxes, like a Roku, puts the total cost at far less than a monthly cable bill.  All of those services will be looking to add original content, like Netflix with Arrested Development, and sweeten their offerings.

Taking on cable companies is starting to become strategy for some larger tech companies.  Google Fiber is a direct shot warning shot to the cable status quo, while Intel’s planned internet television service is a sign that others are starting to see a market that traditional cable isn’t serving.

Add persistent rumors of an Apple television to the mix and cord cutters could have an interesting year.

Tablets at the entry level

Since 2007, netbook held claim as the most affordable entry to portable computing.  Last year, that position was severely threatened by the popularity of tablets.

Though full-size tablets often grab the headlines, the most action might be found in the 7” tablet space.  Here, Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google and others fight to stand out to entry level tablet consumers.

Look for 7” tablets to become the next low-cost computing phenomenon, as people figure out that these devices might be as adept and less expensive than laptops for most light computing tasks.  Prices on smaller tablets are already fairly low; they could go lower as this market is targeted.

Next-gen game consoles unveiled

Riding out the last legs of older hardware, the video games industry had a relatively tough 2012.  Sales were down compared to 2011, with consumers moving to free-to-play services and cheaper mobile app platforms.  Only Nintendo released new hardware, pushing out the Wii U in November.

This year, expect Microsoft and Sony to announce the follow ups to 2005’s Xbox 360 and 2006’s PlayStation 3.  Microsoft is already heavily hinting that big news could come down at June’s Electronic Entertainment Expo conference in Los Angeles. Sony was late to the party last generation and paid big, so look for them to stay in the news with announcements as well.

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