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15 Tech Trends to Emerge by 2014

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android will grab market share, 4G networks will be rolled out more slowly than expected and social media will become as important as email.

Those are three of 15 technology trends that will unfold over the next three years, according to J. Gold Associates, the research firm I founded. Here they are, with a summary for each.

Trend 1: Within two to three years, 25% to 35% of business users will employ a smartphone exclusively and abandon fixed-line phones. That device will be enabled with many of the same productivity-enhancing features of current fixed-line desktop phones, requiring companies to extend existing PBX/business phone functionality to a wide range of mobile devices.

Trend 2: Corporate security and governance will struggle to keep up with the proliferation of mobile-device use and diversity as IT loosens its control. This will result in high-profile data loss/exposures forcing many companies to re-evaluate their evolving "open" mobile-device strategy. We expect it will be 2013 to 2014 before the "more open/more closed" pendulum is stabilized and, therefore, significant short-term exposure will continue to be the norm in many organizations.

Trend 3: The cost of business smartphone acquisition will continue to fall, with the average cost well under $200. But the accelerating cost of 3G/4G data plans will more than make up for the lower acquisition cost and increase the overall mobile cost per user. By 2013, we expect the average business to evaluate devices not solely on features/functions, but also on total cost of ownership, much it currently evaluates other IT assets (e.g., PCs, servers, SW).

Trend 4: Mobile-cost containment will be a major issue as more data-ready devices come on board and companies look to make the most efficient use of tiered data plans. Advantage will go to devices that can prove data efficiency and, by 2013, we expect efficiency ratings to be a key determining factor of corporate purchases (much like security and manageability are currently). Device vendors and carriers will adopt standard efficiency-based benchmarks to rate devices and compete on a comparative basis stressing total cost of ownership.

Trend 5: Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android OS delivered by many vendors (e.g., Motorola (MOT), HTC, Samsung, LG) will become a significant portion of the smartphone installed base, but won't become dominant. It will capture a larger overall share than Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone, RIM's (RIMM) BlackBerry or Nokia (NOK). However, despite its popularity, Android will remain significantly less secure and manageable than its competitors, and require either specialized business-hardened versions from device vendors (e.g., Motorola, HTC) or SW add-ons (e.g., Sybase, McAfee, MobileIron, Zenprise) through at least 2013.
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