Blackberry OS 10
It’s fair to say that 2012 was a year Blackberry’s parent company RIM (Research in Motion) would rather forget. Collapses in existing email, internet and Blackberry Messenger services all had an impact on user and market confidence, resulting in a significant drop in market share, revenue and stock valuation falls. As things very quickly ramp up for 2013, RIM are pinning their hopes on the imminent launch of their overhauled OS, Blackberry 10 (latest advised launch date is 30th January) to herald a reversal of company fortune. The obvious question on everyone’s lips is will it be enough? Pre-launch reviews point towards a number of enhanced functionality and interaction design elements. For example, “Blackberry balance” will allow users to separate their work and personal life on the same device, whilst a richer app library, voice activated assistance and enhanced third party plug in capabilities are also likely to feature heavily in this new release. New handsets are on the cards too with an initial two new handsets expected to available at launch. Gone are button keyboards, at least in the short term. But how will RIM fare? This question has to be viewed in the context of an ever increasingly competitive environment. Just look at Samsung’s Galaxy S3 continued strong sales performance, the recent successes of Nokia’s Lumia 920-windows 8 and Apple’s iphone 5 release. When taken all together, these make RIM’s task just all the more challenging. Definitely one to watch going forward. Read more about the BB10 review.
For those not familiar with this three letter abbreviation, CES is an event worth noting down in the diary for this month. CES is the Consumer Electronic Show, which this year is taking place in Las Vegas and provides a showcase for product and service providers to promote new products as well as provide glimpses of work in progress designs for products of the future. “Smart” products promise to feature heavily and by “smart” meaning those that don’t just offer Internet connectivity, but also data analytics, to provide users with proactive recommendations on how to improve their efficiency of use. CES will also provide the platform for the launch of an innovative electronic paper based tablet device “PaperTab”, the brainchild of UK based tech company, Paper Logic. Powered by an Intel i5 process, the 10.7 inch PaperTab will allow users to send/navigate through files and pages and even combine multiple devices side by side to enhance available UI real estate. The exact nature of the initial launch product will be launched at CES 2013. You can find out more about PaperTab and CES in general by visiting the main CES website.
Apple passes 40 billion app downloads
A particularly strong 2012 enabled Apple to pass the immense figure of 40 billion downloads, half of which were accounted for by the last 12 months alone. With over 775,000 apps reported to be available in the App store (and I’ve not counted all of these before anyone asks) there’s good reason to believe that there’s an app for everyone and everything somewhere in store. 2013 promises not to let up as the financial draws of application development are likely to entice more and more app developers into the marketplace, currently valued at around 7 billion USD. Recent announcements made by Microsoft and Blackberry around beefing up their app offerings make it a very interesting space to watch in the months ahead.
2012 - a year in the cloud
Finally, no early year round up would ever be complete without a retrospective look back at some aspects of the previous year’s events. This year, it’s the Cloud, which, alongside developments in the mobile/tablet device sphere have been capturing the most attention in the tech community. Amazon, with its ‘Infrastructure as a service’ model looks to have retained market dominance, but not least in face of stiffer competition from the likes of Microsoft (Windows Azure), HP’s cloud services and Google’s own Compute Engine offering Linux virtual machines. Meanwhile, big blue, IBM used 2012 to bolster their own service offerings to enable them to compete more closely with Amazon’s own self-service infrastructure hire model. And, that’s not forgetting a number of smaller players who have entered the market with more bounded or focussed cloud-based propositions. All this increased competition signals good news, in theory, for consumers in the form of increased price competition, quality of service enhanced user product features and benefits. However, 2012 has not been without its own challenges; service outages, power failures, to name a few, all of which have provided ammunition to the anti-cloud league. 2013 certainly promises to bring a further evolution of the whole cloud area, as cloud providers start to evolve their series of value added services. For example, we should anticipate more activity in the area of data warehousing and data service provision. It’s always interesting to see how markets for emergent products and services evolve and Cloud services make for an interesting live case study.