Android in 2013

20100222116Last year, IDC forecasted that that year would be the end of the hey days for Android. IDC didn’t think that iOS would replace Android, but instead, it would be Windows Phone that will see tremendous growth in the coming years. In fact, they forecasted a 46.2% CAGR 2012 – 2016 for Windows Phone.

2012 has gone, and we’re now in 2013. Windows Phone has been, at best, interesting. I think it’s still far too premature to say that it will conquer iOS and Android. What we know, for sure, is that Android is still pretty much alive and kicking.

An article in the latest issue of Android Magazine lists a couple of things to expect in 2013:

  • NFC finally goes mainstream. Yes, hopefully. Service providers are waiting for consumers with suitably equipped hardware, and consumers are likewise waiting for service providers. I’m not sure if service providers will jump onto the bandwagon quickly enough though. DespiteĀ national efforts in Singapore, I’ve not actually seen this in use.
  • Full HD displays become standard. Sure, it will. Everything just gets better. Better becomes standard. We’ve had 1280×720 on the Samsung Galaxy S III, this will be the new benchmark to match or beat.
  • Processors hit 2GHz. As above, hardware specifications will have to get better, there’s no surprise here. In the future (maybe not yet in 2013), the number of cores and the number of GHz probably won’t matter all that much anymore.
  • Ecosystems become more important than hardware. This is definitely so. We’ve had these ecosystems for several years now. People are accumulating more and more applications, fuelled by 10 cents and 99 cents sales. Along with these fire sale apps, I imagine many people have already been encouraged to cough up money for more expensive apps, and these are going to keep them inside the ecosystem.
  • Tablets and laptops start to merge. This will be something really interesting to watch. I’ve imagined such a connected world where my phone is my computer. Or my tablet is my computer. Windows 8 (with Surface Pro) actually lends itself to such dual-use scenarios, being both a tablet with tablet-style user interface, as well as a full blown desktop user interface running desktop applications.

Then, of course, Key Lime Pie, the next version of Android, will arrive in 2013. Unfortunately, I’m not sure yet quite sure what wonderful things we can look out for. One of the bulleted points is “better battery life”. The should have had better battery life since a long time ago. Nowadays, I’ve settled for charging my smartphone everyday. It’ll be nice if it can last two days.

Samsung has had (and still is having) a runaway success with their Galaxy S line of smartphones. The Galaxy S III did very well in 2012. I’m tempted to swing back to Samsung in 2013, though unfortunately, it looks like the Galaxy S IV will be coming out later rather than earlier.

This is CES week, the big consumer electronics show in the U.S., where most smartphone and tablet manufacturers will tell us more about what is coming up this year. (Or, they would do at Mobile World Congress in February.) Most, except perhaps Apple and Samsung, both heavyweight enough to do their own media events. But anyhow, CES will still give us a glimpse into what to expect this year.

I’m waiting to see how flexible OLED screens will show up in shipping products this year.