The start of the new year always brings a lot to look forward to and working in the online industry there is a lot that can affect our industry. The anticipation of things to come can be quite exciting and with that in mind I wanted to cover a few of the most interesting gadgets and trends coming this year.
The Asus Padfone – A Smartphone-Tablet Hybrid
Perhaps the most exciting device in the smartphone and tablet markets, I found this new gadget difficult to place in either of the following two sections, as it essentially belongs in both. The new Asus Padfone will likely run the next version of Android but will combine the functionality of a smartphone and tablet into, essentially, one device without the need for synchronisation. The smartphone itself will mirror many of the other smartphones on the market but what sets this device apart is the tablet attachment. At any time, you can slide your smartphone into a slot on the back of a pad and instantly use your phone on a tablet-sized screen, with increased resolution and additional battery power to charge the phone…
With the smartphone running all of the functionality, the cost for having both a smartphone and a tablet would be far lower and it would allow you to instantly improve your browsing or viewing ability wherever you are.
The Next Generation of Smartphones
Smartphone sales are increasing rapidly, with 38% of all mobiles worldwide expected to be smartphones by 2013. The large user-friendly touchscreens and high speed mobile data networks have prompted an accelerated growth in mobile internet and social media usage over the last few of years. With numerous, better models to choose from, faster Quad-Core processing speeds and the new 4G networks coming, 2012 is the year for every business that hasn’t already to look at some form of mobile marketing and, as Google would say, “Go Mobile”. These are some of the most promising models scheduled to roll-out in 2012.
- iPhone 5 – Arguably the single most popular model in the market, this smartphone has been dominating the market for some time and the next generation is scheduled to release mid-2012. While a higher resolution camera, improved processor and larger screen highest among the new usage features, rumors of a new tapered design have provided the greatest hype.
- Android 4.0 Ice Scream Sandwich – The next chapter for the most popular smartphone operating system from Google will offer greater customisation for Apps and widgets, a slew of features that have been a unique selling point for the iPhone and a few new novelties as well. Android 4.0 is expected in February 2012.
- Samsung Galaxy S III – With the popularity of the Galaxy range, Samsung smartphone vendor shipments exceeded Apple’s iPhone for the first time in Q3 2011. The Samsung Galaxy S III is rumored to be released around the same time as the iPhone 5 and is expected to have Android 4.0 and 4G network capability.
- Windows 8 Nokia Lumia – With Nokia and Windows losing the smartphone battle to Google, Apple and Samsung respectively, they combined efforts in 2011 to improve their chances. Now with the expected launch of Windows 8 in early 2012, rumors have already started about the first Nokia Lumia Windows 8 phone. Expect this one later this year.
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (PlayStation phone) – Being marketed as the entertainment smartphone, the Xperia Play is the first PlayStation Certified phone. It is expected to be released with an integrated PlayStation Suite in March.
- LG PenTouch – While less competitive in the mobile arena then some of the previously mentioned players, LG has an effective market share in the home entertainment area. One of the most favoured features of Apple devices is their integration through the Airplay technology. You can control iTunes on your computer using a Remote App on your iPhone and stream a movie to your Apple TV device and watch it on the big screen, all through Wi-Fi. LG’s new PenTouch technology will be available initially with LG smartphones (possibly later as an App through other devices) and will allow you to wirelessly stream the web, an app, a video or music from your LG phone to your LG flatscreen TV wirelessly.
- Other brands to keep an eye on will be Motorola and BlackBerry, both scheduling new smartphone roll-outs in the coming months.
An Influx of New High Quality Competitors to the Tablet Market
Slimline easy-to-use tablets offer customers a greater web experience on the go and, much like smartphones, tablet sales and usage has been increasing dramatically with the success of Apple’s iPad. While they have dominated this market effectively, an increase in the available alternatives in 2012 may be a signal a shift towards a more competitive marketplace as is currently being seen in the smartphone industry. The following are some of the biggest releases in 2012.
- iPad 3 – Similar to the iPhone 5, there will likely be an improved screen and processing speed for the new iPad but perhaps most notably will be the addition of Siri to the tablet.
- Android 4.0 Ice Scream Sandwich Tablet – Like the smartphone software, this more customisable update will be released for existing tablet owners in early 2012, with new tablet models to follow shortly after.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab II – While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 7.7 have already been released, you can almost certainly expect a new tablet from Samsung later this year. Rumors surrounding the specifications suggest a large 11.6 inch high-resolution screen and will include a retina display like the iPad 3 as well as Android 4.0.
- Windows 8 Tablet – Most likely to be released by Nokia in the second half of 2012, details about what the tablet will feature are few. You can expect this new tablet to foster the same principles as Windows 8, including a new design interface, higher speeds, increased security and an improved Windows App Store.
- New Bigger Kindle Fire – Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world, entered the tablet world late last year with its first Kindle Fire at a reasonable price range, and they are planning a new version with a larger screen for release in mid-2012
15-inch Macbook Air & super-thin Ultrabooks
The Macbook Air became an instant favourite when it was released due to its incredibly thin design without losing too much computing power. The one major downfall from other Macbooks was its screen size, only being available at 11- or 13-inch. The introduction of the 15-inch Macbook and the PC equivalent Ultrabooks in 2012 should see the start of a shift towards a far more portable laptop.
Internet Enabled Televisions
Much talk in 2011 was about the launch of the Google TV, which integrated the Chrome browser and Google apps into a flat screen TV. Recently, though, there has been buzz about an expected Apple Television launch in late 2012. This new TV set would likely feature an integrated AppleTV device, Face Time with a front facing webcam, integrated web browsing capabilities, iCloud, Airplay and would almost certainly have the option to be controlled by Siri. This last point is what people are most excited about. No more remembering programmed numbers for TV stations or using your hands to watch TV or connect to another Apple device, just tell your TV what you want and it does it. You could even use it to conduct relevant Google searches…
Add to this the release of the first ever no-glasses 3D television from Toshiba in the second half of 2012 and home entertainment is looking at a major transition in the not-too-distant future.
There a couple of things that all of the above points have in common. They are all aimed at providing an improved technology experience on the go and to seamlessly integrate with other devices in our day-to-day lives. The time to go mobile is now and that may not just mean smartphones…