2013 Predictions: How Many Were Right?
In 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a confident prediction just months before the first iPhone was released: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Fast forward to 2013 and Ballmer is probably still red-faced about this. Still, this—and many other similar blunders—hasn’t stopped pundits from making bold predictions year after year. As the year draws to a close, let’s look back at some of the predictions made for 2013 and judge their accuracy.
Over one billion smartphones soldDeloitte predicted that global shipments of smartphones would exceed one billion units for the first time.1 Were they right? Figures from Gartner show that mobile phone sales are well on track to reaching 1.82 billion units this year.2 And some balm for Ballmer—Microsoft has become the number 3 smartphone OS overtaking Blackberry.
The Cloud will gain tractionBusiness Spectator, citing Forrester research, predicted that the cloud would become a dominant feature of Australians’ online experience in 2013.3 “Applications such as Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 will become central to our online experience by improving productivity and reducing organisation technology costs,” they proclaimed. They also predicted that data centre usage would grow to match the need for expanding cloud capability. Were they right? A Frost & Sullivan report confirmed that Australia has seen a strong take-up of cloud offerings.4 It also concluded that public cloud storage offerings such as Google Drive and DropBox are becoming very popular among smaller organisations. And as predicted, the rise of cloud computing did indeed drive strong demand for data centre capacity. Major data centre providers such as Equinix and Global Switch expanded their local presence in Australia.
3D printing kills manufacturingDr Thomas Frey, CEO of the Da Vinci Institute, predicted turmoil for manufacturers in 2013 as 3D printing started to dominate the market. Given that weapons, spare parts, and even an entire house have already been printed, Dr Frey said it wouldn’t be long before we can print food, medication and clothes.5 “Once we’re able to print things like this … rather than manufacturing something in China and shipping it to Australia, or the US or Europe, you can print it where you’re at. This can have a profound effect on countries like China that are doing all the manufacturing.” This sentiment was echoed by the Harvard Business Review.6 Were they right? The 3D printer market remained a nascent market in 2013, with hype outpacing the technical realities. However, Gartner predicts that shipments of 3D printers will increase by 75 per cent in 2014 as prices fall.7 “In the next 18 months, we foresee consumers moving from being curious about the technology to finding reasons to justify purchases as price points, applications and functionality become more attractive.” Gartner expects 3D printers to have the biggest impact on industries, including consumer products, industrial and manufacturing, and medium impact on construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities.8
Wi-Fi winsAnother confident prediction by Business Spectator: “The big winner in 2013 will be Wi-Fi. The mobility market is growing rapidly and customers are increasingly looking to Wi-Fi as an alternative solution to overcome the high cost of mobile plans. Expect to see an explosion of Wi-Fi in 2013 as this technology matures as a commercial alternative to 4G.” Were they right? Wi-Fi infrastructure in Australia is still woefully inadequate. Users have to rely on hotspots in limited locations within most cities. However, things are changing. In November, Perth introduced free Wi-Fi coverage in the entire CBD. Adelaide has announced a similar service, due to be completed in March 2014. Talks are underway to test a free public Wi-Fi service in Melbourne but it is unclear when this will take place.9 The public is ready to embrace Wi-Fi. It’s now up to the local governments to do something about it.
# Bad predictions throughout history
- Smartphones ship a billion but usage becomes simpler
- Gartner says smartphone sales grew
- Top ten tech predictions for 2013
- Greater demand for cloud services
- 2013 tech predictions: 3D printers
- 3-D printing will change the world
- Gartner identifies “tipping point” in 3D printing growth
- The much-hyped 3D printer market is entering
- City set for free Wi-Fi trial, but lagging behind