14 December 2012

Twisted Toast

2012 has been a pretty wild year for social media, technology and brand content marketing. After all, all brands are now content brands. We’ve even had a man jump from the edge of space to promote an energy drink. Can you possibly top that? Probably not, but it’s going to be an exciting one all the same. Here are some of my predictions for the year ahead, assuming the world doesn’t end when the Mayan calendar runs out.

Prediction 1: Apple expands iOS onto laptop devices; launches a budget iPhone
Apple makes almost all of its money from iOS devices and the iOS platform. While there’s no reason to suspect that Mac OS X will be discontinued, I’d be surprised if 2013 isn’t the year that we see a MacBook Pro or (more likely) MacBook Air running iOS.

I think Apple is under tremendous pressure at the moment and I suspect that they’ve reached their peak. Whether Tim Cook has the leadership skills and vision to drive Apple forward is up for debate. Their share price is riding record highs and while their product offering remains solid, Android now eclipses them in all the important metrics.

They’ll have to do something, and a budget iPhone to attempt to gain market share in the hotly-contested budget smartphone market seems a safe bet, especially in light of the iPad Mini. Android’s success comes mainly from the small to mid-range smartphone market, and a budget iPhone allows Apple an opportunity to get a foot into a market it has until now had no presence in.

Prediction 2: Android continues to grow, RIM and Nokia continue their downward spiral
Android continues to go from strength to strength and there’s no reason to suspect it will slow down, with a series of excellent tablet and phone devices delivered this year and more to come in 2013. There’s a reason why they have 70% of the market.

As for Nokia and Microsoft, the latest versions of the Windows 8 Phone have been underwhelming and the company seems mired in a continual game of catch-up, a sad state of affairs considering Nokia’s once-dominant position.

Things look even worse for RIM, which continues its descent into obscurity and irrelevance. RIM unveils BlackBerry 10 in late January, and there’s no reason to suspect that while it may not be the final nail in the coffin, it’s certainly not going to be enough to counteract the ailing company’s woes.

Prediction 3: Social media and brand content marketing become truly mainstream
While some may argue that brand content marketing is already mainstream, marketing budgets tell the real story. Marketing budgets still often only make token (often single-digit percentage) committments to brand content marketing, and in some cases, these budgets have contracted due to concerns over negative exposure. As brands such as Chevrolet, Burberry, Coca Cola and Red Bull continue to intensify their brand content marketing, the value and return on investment will encourage other brands to follow suit with real commitment to engaging their audience on digital channels.

Prediction 4: HTML5 will continue to grow
There’s no getting away from it – HTML5 is here to stay, and we’re grateful for it. From web-based applications to mobile development, HTML offers a clear blueprint for the future with exciting new features to boot. With the (looming) demise of Nokia and BlackBerry, the only two real players in the market are Apple and Android, and HTML5 represents their only real commonality. If you have an app and have to get it to market quickly on Apple and Android phones and tablets, HTML5 is your winner.

Prediction 5: Cloud everything
Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox. The cloud is here to stay, and we love it. 2013 is the year of online storage, safe, security, always connected. Space will grow, connectivity and usefulness will increase, and by the end of the year, locally hosted files will be in the minority. Documents, music, photos, apps, videos, television series – your entire digital life will exist on a variety of data servers thousands of miles away but always accessible via the internet.

Concerns over privacy will however also grow. Already, should a hacker gain access to a key account such as email, your entire network of cloud services with potentially highly sensitive information can be compromised and your life can unravel in front of your eyes. There’s already been a few high profile incidences that are disturbing just in how vulnerable living in the cloud can make us.

So 2013 then. It’s set to be an exciting year. It’ll probably the year that Twitter goes public, or least starts on the paperwork, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any real business model under the hood. We’re already seeing pushback on social media and it’ll be interesting to see which of the brands on social media renew their commitment and which falter in the face of opening themselves up to public scrutiny. We’ll see new and exciting data visualization options emerging as the sheer mass of data now available on the internet makes the visual communication challenge one that cannot be ignored. All in all, 2013 seems to be a promising year for tech, social media and the internet.