What a tech company needs to be able to do in order to grow is simple: predict the future. Why? Because all the amazing technology we buy and use today was on the drawing board, being planned and debated and being built many quarters, even years in advance.
Some companies lead while others follow. Apple (AAPL) has done a great job of thinking ahead of the game. They create new market sectors that were outside the curve, and which others jump into.
That’s why they had such a head start with devices like the iPhone and iPad. Companies who partner with Apple have also done exceptionally well. Example, AT&T Mobility (T) was the first iPhone network for years.
Google (GOOG) is another example of a forward-looking company with Android. When they launched, they offered both their own phone and the more generic Android made by a separate phone maker. Their first network was T-Mobile (TMUS) .
Google didn’t have such a great first year, but they learned quickly and are now selling more Android devices than Apple sells iPhones. They pulled their own smartphone handset off the market the first year. Now the Nexus has recently made a comeback and is now in the marketplace again.
So you see, sometimes companies hit the target, and other times they miss. Sometimes they do well with one area and not so well with another similar area. This is the thrill, the risk and the reward of thinking a few years ahead.
It seems timing is everything, and more change is in the air.
So what can we expect in 2014? Leadership in the marketplace will be under threat and going through changes. The following are a list of a few ups and downs and what we can expect to see.
The cloud will be increasingly important going forward. Yesterday we stored information on our devices, laptops and smartphones. Tomorrow we have too many different devices and all our information must be available on everything we have.
So we’ll store all our info on the cloud, and have access to it from all our devices including our laptops, smartphones, tablet’s smartwatches and more.
The cloud will play a larger and more important and growing place in the industry going forward. It is currently available from companies like Apple, AT&T and Verizon. Expect much more in the way of the cloud in 2014.
This is the next area phone makers are focused on after smartphones and tablets. There have been quite a few smartwatches in the market, but now companies like Qualcomm and Samsung are moving in and expanding the segment.
Yesterday’s smartwatches counted our steps and helped with things like a workout. Today’s smartwatches are an extension of our smartphones to our wrists. Now we don’t have to pull out our phone any longer. Instead we check our watch
Will this be successful? Don’t know yet. We’ll see. But everyone is getting very busy in this new area.
The curved screen leaves many puzzled. Why? We have not really started to see why yet. We are still in the early days of this curved screen revolution, as the industry likes to say. We are paving the roads. Next we’ll see if the cars will jump on and race around the track. We’ll see. Crazier things have happened before.
Super High Speed Internet
We are seeing the very early signs of the super high speed Internet revolution. Google started in Kansas City, then AT&T in Austin, CenturyLink in Las Vegas and C Spire in several Mississippi cities.
This is an exciting new wave that has many cities licking their chops trying to be on the early list of faster cities.
Apple started this whole new smartphone segment with the iPhone six years ago. It’s still on fire. That was followed by their iPad a few short years ago. While Apple took a hit a year ago on their stock price, customers still love them. I believe Apple will remain a strong leader going forward.
Apple has always shown the forward thinking and innovation the industry needs. They are no longer the only ones in the market and that means they must compete differently going forward, but they will.
Apple is still a very strong company and still has a unique relationship with customers who love them.
They have not been as active to change and introduce new technologies like Samsung and Microsoft (MSFT) . However their customers are just fine with that. After all not everyone wants earthshaking change to deal with.
Google is a newer, rapidly growing and very different company. They are a growth engine in so many different categories. Each must be measured on its own ability to compete and to win.
I see Google continuing to growth their Android handset business, like Apple with smartphones, tablets and smartwatches.
While this is only one slice of the Google pie, they should continue to see growth going forward.
Samsung is one of the handset makers who have taken the lead partnering with Google on their Android technology. Samsung is a strong and large and rapidly growing company.
They not only are a leader in smartphones, but the new smartwatches as well. As I check with various stores, these devices seem to be selling well at this early stage.
Samsung is also a company with many different segments like big screen televisions to washers and driers and so on. So this giant is harder to read, but should continue to be successful and innovative in 2014.
Nokia (NOK) was the leader in wireless handsets until they lost the lead in the smartphone revolution started by Apple and Google several years ago. After several years of trying they finally seem to be on a slow growth track. At least it’s heading in the right direction.
Expect big changes at Nokia starting in 2014. Nokia merged with Microsoft and stands the chance to grow rapidly if Microsoft can get settled in with the right new CEO.
So expect change and potential growth, but only after Microsoft gets a new CEO and starts on their growth path.
Blackberry (BBRY) is in transition. Like Nokia they once led the smartphone segment until they started to fall after the Apple iPhone and Google Android jumped in.
What will Blackberry look like and how well will they do going forward? They will be a private company and it will be interesting to see whether they can transform and grow once again.
They still have a strong core of satisfied customers, although that is a smaller group than ever before. Let’s hope they can start to grow again.
Check back in on Dec. 26 to see the second round of Jeff Kagan’s 2014 tech and telecom predictions.
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