15 Tech Trends to Emerge by 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG) 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) 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) iPhone, RIM's ( RIMM) BlackBerry or Nokia ( NOK). However, despite its popularity, Android will remain significantly less secure and manageablethan its competitors, and require either specialized business-hardenedversions from device vendors (e.g., Motorola, HTC) or SW add-ons(e.g., Sybase, McAfee, MobileIron, Zenprise) through at least 2013.

Trend 6: The mobile "chip wars" will continue, with ARM maintaining its dominant lead over all other architectures. But by 2013, Intel ( INTC) will capture a significant portion of the tablet and larger form-factor mobile-device market (greater than 25%), mostly on non-Windows enabled platforms. Nvidia ( NVDA) will gain market share in higher end devices against ARM-based rival Qualcomm ( QCOM), as graphics becomes a differentiating capability, while Texas Instruments ( TI) gains in the mid-market, and other volume players continue to push capabilities into lower-end devices.

Trend 7: Despite an intense short-term push by major carriers to enhance their networks with 4G capability (e.g., LTE, WiMax), it will be at least two to three years before the majority of the networks are upgraded to full coverage across all points of presence. During this period, users will need topurchase 3G-enabled backward-compatible devices and modems to maintain a reliable connection. Despite slower speeds, the 3G-connectivity option will provide a valid way for users to connect and access company assets with limited degradation of user experience. WiFi will be ubiquitous in devices and remain an important accessmethod for the foreseeable future despite increasing availability of 4G.

Trend 8: Internet browsing will evolve from a browser as component of a higher level OS, to a browser as the primary function of the device. This "glassbrowser" model will become increasingly popular as more services move to the cloud and software as a service (SaaS) becomes a larger component of business use. Current PC manufacturers will be required to move to the "glass browser" marketplace with product by 2013. While Google's Chrome will represent a significant portion of this market, we expect to see competing "glass browser" implementations from Apple, Microsoft ( MSFT) and others, with no dominant player emerging in the short term.

Trend 9: Laptops will remain a significant force in the business community, with users valuing their ability to work off-line and on complex tasks. By 2013, they will increase market share over desktops and represent 65% to 75%of corporate PCs. However, by 2014 to 2015, we expect alternatives (e.g., tablets and "glass browsers" connected to the cloud) to reduce the total number of PC users in businesses by 20% to 25%, making it cost-effective for companies to deploy "lighter" mobile-computing devices to those users/functions who could not justify the cost or complexity of a PC.

Trend 10: Increasing processing power will bring new interface technologies to smart devices, (e.g., voice command and control, biometrics input, motion detection, adaptive response). Within two to three years, users should expect to see a completely revamped means of interfacing with personal devices. This will lead to an explosion of new application capabilities aswell as new usage scenarios that will require companies to adopt new interaction paradigms.

Trend 11: By 2013, greater than 67% of browsers accessing the Internet will be on non-PC devices. Internet Explorer will ultimately become a minor player in the browser market, with WebKit-based rendering engines poweringthe majority of mobile devices, and Mozilla-based browsers being deployed on Linux-based (and Meego-based) larger form factor products. As a result, Web sites will no longer be optimized for PC-based Internet Explorer, but will standardize on WebKit and HTML5 for broad-based browser compatibility.

Trend 12: By 2014, social media will become as important as email to business users. Traditional business instant messaging and presence products from Microsoft and Lotus, which extend their email product suites, will lose marketshare as more nimble, cloud-based products from non-traditional vendors (e.g., Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com ( CRM), Oracle ( ORCL), Cisco ( CSCO)) become business-hardened and accessible by mobile users.

Trend 13: The advent of consumerization of IT, bring your own device to work, and the renewed power of the end user to determine strategy will force corporate IT groups to dramatically alter their function. By 2013 to 2014,those corporate IT departments that have not enabled a diverse population of devices and end-user choices through emphasis on manageability, policy enforcement and security evaluations will become hopelessly outmoded and struggle to function. This will cause chaos and substantially raise the total cost of ownership of the organization.

Trend 14: By 2012, enterprise-application vendors that don't offer a substantial portion of their functionality enabled on mobile smart devices will beunable to sell their solutions to a large portion of businesses. Vendors concentrating on SMB solutions will be required to enable mobile smart devices by 2013 or face obsolescence and shrinking sales.

Trend 15: Solution vendors that do not adapt to the rising tide of cloud computing and software as a service for mobile users will face a significant market disadvantage by 2013 to 2014, as standardized access technology (e.g.,HTML5) matures and is widely accepted. Further, the increasing diversity of devices will prevent software vendors from optimizing for each device type, and instead seek ways to universally develop and deploy solutions. Development tools/environments that provide support for the maximum number of mobile ecosystems will be highly valued.

Jack Gold is the founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, an information-technology analysis firm in Northborough, Mass., covering the many aspects of business and consumer computing and emerging technologies.

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