More of the same destined for 2014

The news for 2014 will be the further acceptance and adoption—rather than backlash and rejection—of the major technologies so vigorously hyped in 2013. Cloud, big data, mobile, social and consumerization were front and center for discussions of IT in the enterprise at the year’s close. The curators of Gigaom Research’s technology-specific analyst blogs recently offered their predictions for 2014, and they generally see further fundamental change, realism, and mainstream adoption underlying the trends in their sectors:

  • Cloud computing will see more dominance from Amazon Web Services and more maturation of OpenStack for the private cloud. Cloud management platforms will find use in managing the multicloud environment that most enterprises are finding to be reality, since cloud has proven its viability and importance over the past 24 months. DevOps, PaaS, and cloud-oriented security all gain currency in this new environment.
  • Mobile will continue to revolutionize shopping and the integration of the in-store and online customer experience. Mobile payments, which might be seen as a natural corollary to that trend, will, however, continue to lag due to fragmented and competing technologies and a lack of standards or broadbased market power to impose a de facto norm. Within the enterprise, Apple’s iOS will benefit from the further decline of Blackberry as a favored mobile platform.
  • Social enterprise computing will play off of the BYOD trend and other advances in mobile, as a core platform for employees at work. The consumerization of enterprise IT will spawn greater autonomy for workers—in both technology and mind.

Virtualization from cloud to mobile

The integration of these dynamics from cloud applications, through the network, to a virtual, mobile desktop creates an integrated IT management approach across the enterprise. Virtualization is enabling a more agile IT grid throughout. Thus, applications are more readily updated, systems are more securely managed, vendor provisioning is more easily replaced as suppliers change—and more advanced computer power is made available to employees, customers and suppliers alike. Of course, getting to that point of simplified complexity is not easy, 2014 will only provide further steps on that route, and IT Shangri-La is never quite reached.

An Internet of things and of data, data, and data

An overarching theme across the curators’ predictions within their technology areas is the impact of new data, and data at a new scale, across the enterprise. From the Internet of things transforming energy into cleantech, to the slow adoption of wearable technology, and the use of algorithmic analyses to improve such managerial basics as hiring; big data will continue to flood the lines of enterprise and consumer computing. New capabilities and efficiencies will be borne of the newly sensed and aggregated data that will be bundled in the virtualized IT fabric that is simultaneously being woven.

In short, 2014 will bring progress in the new cloud-to-mobile IT infrastructure, and more data-driven applications will be created to leverage that infrastructure. The challenge will be to effectively update enterprise infrastructure while delivering on the right, creative applications for each enterprise and industry. Shangri-La beckons.

If 373 million unit smartwatch market seems big, consider “big miss” on iPad forecasts

Over at NextMarket Insights, we published a new report today outlining our case for why the smartwatch market will be substantially bigger than many of the existing outlooks have it sized at, with a forecast of a 373 million unit market by 2020.

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Part of the reason I think most of the current outlooks undersize the market is there is a natural tendency of analysts and forecasters to be conservative. I remember very clearly in 2010 when I created GigaOM’s first tablet forecasts, the consensus forecast for tablets was in the area of 2-3 million for 2010.  I knew that since Apple was going big on the device and they had an ability to create new markets unlike any other company, the market would be bigger.

Even with that in mind, I still under-forecasted when I had the market at just over 6 million, and mine was one of the more aggressive forecasts out there. In the end, 2010 saw Apple moving about 15 million iPads, and now the tablet market is a 230 million unit market.

Smartphones weren’t that different. Back in 2005 and 2006, most industry analyst forecasts had smartphones growing, but most had the feature phone market continuing to dominate through this decade, in part because the iPhone had yet to appear and show everyone that the market is more than just a professional user market (as the Blackberry kind of defined the smartphone market as in most people’s minds).

Now with smartwatches, I think we’re seeing the limits once again of the typical forecaster’s imagination. Most see the basic smartwatches on the market today and simply extrapolate forward, not really considering how smartwatches could:

  • easily start to eat into the low-end smartphone market
  • create entirely new categories in watch sub-segments such as the durable, fitness and children’s space
  • and how major watch maker such as Swatch, Timex and others will likely integrate smartwatch capabilities into watch lines once they feel the heat from the technology-side movers like Apple and Google.

Could my forecast be too aggressive? Sure it could.

But I don’t think it is. The watch market is a 1.2 billion unit market annually, and there are 7 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Fairly modest penetration into those markets will create a significant opportunity beyond what most forecasts anticipate today.

E-book market forecast to hit $5.2B as the book industry burns

I’ve never seen an industry change faster than digital publishing, where the sudden love of e-books created a “backdraft” that set the entire value chain aflame. These three large-scale shifts will result in a U.S. e-book marketplace that exceeds $5 billion by 2016.

U.S. Online Video Viewing to Eclipse Broadcast TV by 2020

Americans love their TV much more than they love YouTube, Hulu and Netflix streaming, but this is going to change: A new report from The Diffusion Group estimates that U.S.-based consumers will watch more Internet-delivered video than traditional broadcast or cable TV by 2010.