Blazing: Top 10 tech trends 2014 from Juniper Research


From mobile fitness to mobile agriculture, trends for mobile technology are expanding into vertical markets over 2014

In previous years, Juniper Research has offered a selection of what we believed would be the key mobile trends for the coming year. This time, with content and services becoming increasingly device agnostic, we have extended our scope to cover trends which range across an array of technologies and applications.

Many of these are indeed underpinned by wireless connectivity, but now such connectivity takes in an ever-increasing range of verticals, impacting upon not merely the consumer and enterprise arenas, but on society as a whole.

Our trends document for 2014 covers a range of fields, from smart cities to education, from wearable devices to 3D printing, where we believe there will be significant activity – be that adoption or disruption – over the next 12 months.

1. 2014: When cities get smarter

The idea of connecting every physical object to the Internet and communicating with each other is not new, but there has been an ever increasing activity within the industry over the past 12 months towards enabling a well connected infrastructure via the evolution of efficient and intelligent systems.

As technology continues to enable a more economic and efficient living for the urban population this year, the need for municipal authorities to cut carbon footprints and reduce overall expenditure will provide additional pressures.

Smart cities look to address key issues arising from this evolution via efficient and intelligent systems including: ticketing applications, transport management, municipal management, smart metering and others including healthcare.

There are already a number of high profile urban testbeds for smart technology, notably Singapore, Barcelona and Nice, where the introduction of connected sensors has improved parking, lighting and environmental monitoring. Juniper anticipates that the next 12 months will see a host of other cities follow suit, resulting not only in increased efficiencies but also in the provision of new business for the population.

2. M-agriculture to build on m-payment success in developing markets

The mobile handset offers far more to emerging markets than the provision of communication services. Over the past few years, it has brought financial inclusivity to millions of unbanked individuals across sub-Saharan Africa and parts of developing Asia through the deployment of mobile wallets. Increasingly, we are seeing an array of services – educational, informative and financial – designed to improve the productivity of farmers and thereby benefit the wider agricultural sectors on which many developing countries are heavily dependent.

While the business models to deliver sustainable services are still under development, we believe that 2014 will see a dramatic increase in the provision of micro-lending services which can enable farmers to buy goods or machinery to improve productivity and/or, through micro insurance, to protect against poor harvests.

These will be accompanied by an increasing of voice and text-based services with the aim of providing critical information on crop management, product tracking or – like Farmerline in Ghana – enable rural agricultural workers to collect and share data on farming techniques.

3. The watershed year for wearables

Juniper Research has identified 2014 as the watershed year for wearable devices, both in terms of roll outs and market traction. The entry of new players (including Qualcomm, HTC, Dell, and Asus) into the sector, together with both product launches and version upgrades by the earlier entrants (Samsung, Sony, Apple and Google) provide an array of catalysts for substantial growth.

Juniper notes that there are a number of social and legal barriers to the deployment of wearable devices. However, not all of these hurdles will apply to every device, or indeed, every type of device. Issues such as privacy commonly arise if the wearable device (eg smart glasses) has a camera and gives the appearance of filming at all times. While in many places there are no laws regarding filming in public places, many people may object if they perceive they are being filmed.

As more wearables products are rolled out, Juniper expects that governments will in turn seek to develop regulatory frameworks to legislate their use, both from a privacy and data protection perspective.

4. iPads and tablets flourish in educational settings

A landmark deal worth $30 million saw Apple selected to provide iPads to 47 schools across Los Angeles in July 2013. The iPads, which will have educational software preinstalled on them and necessary restrictions applied, has paved the way for tablet computing in schools to become mainstream. Google has also bolstered its presence in schools by launching Google Play for Education, a version of its app store which is designed for K-12 schools.

These announcements and deployments mean that tablet computing is now an attractive offering for teachers and students alike, and Juniper believes that the number of tablets used for educational settings will soar during 2014, both as complement to – and in place of – desktop PCs. As tablets can provide content to engage students and enrich their education, and increasingly, students are already accustomed to using a tablet outside of school.

5. Mobile fitness devices diversify into m-health arenas

Juniper Research believes that the basic infrastructure supporting m-fitness is now fully developed, allowing companies to create increasingly sophisticated, and useful m-fitness devices that link to the smartphone and from there to a wide range of services.

Though the m-fitness market is in its infancy, in many respects it is ahead of the more complex, but ultimately potentially larger, m-health industry. However, Juniper predicts that fitness and sports device vendors will increasingly begin to explore the possibility of extending their portfolios to other areas of the m-fitness or m-health ecosystem that are adjacent to their current product offering.

While the fitness industry does not face the same pressures as the healthcare industry, it nevertheless provides an indication of how the changes required in the healthcare system may occur, and how some of the challenges may be addressed.

Juniper believes that as consumer acceptance and adoption of m-fitness devices accelerates through 2014, this is turn will have the knock-on effect of stimulating wider interest in m-health applications, both amongst potential end users and – critically – amongst a still sceptical and wary healthcare industry.

6. Global 4G LTE subscribers to double in 2014, as 4G LTE-Advanced roll out increases

With subscribers beginning to sign up for 4G-LTE services in volume over 2013, the global number of LTE users will double in 2014. While LTE networks are still in their infancy in many parts of the world, a number of operators have already begun to roll out 4G LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks, especially in developed markets: indeed, KT Corp will have completed its deployment in Korea by the end of this year. Juniper expects this trend to continue, along with the roll out of commercial services, driven by the embedding of technology in consumer devices.

Juniper also expects the groundwork in terms of research and development towards 5G to continue in 2014, with a number of significant announcements predicted from key players about future plans and investments.

7. Context awareness in mobile computing gathers pace

Context awareness in mobile computing exploits information about users, their devices and the environment, to improve the interaction among them by recognising, harnessing and translating ‘big data’ into actionable insights. While this is not in itself a new phenomenon, we believe that there will be an acceleration in applicability during 2014, in order to facilitate the next generation of smart wearables and other mobile devices.

Applications already exist – at the most basic level, a mobile device’s backlight becoming brighter when the user’s environment is dark is an example. Google Now is an intelligent personal assistant, available to Android and iOS users through the Google Search app; it answers questions, makes recommendations and performs tasks.

Other projects include reQall, an intelligent, proactive assistant that continuously datamines past, current and future context and offers assistance without being prompted. Some of its services include blocking calls from interrupting a user during a meeting – however if the caller is a friend who has called more than once during the meeting, it puts the call through, realising that it could be urgent.

Furthermore, the ability for advertisers to deliver context aware mobile adverts, such as an advert for a watch as a user walks past a jeweller’s based on their previous browsing for ‘watches under $100’, will help drive mobile advertising spend to almost $40 billion by 2018.

8. Disruption in the home gaming market

As expected, two of the primary players in home game console market – Sony and Microsoft – have released their new devices, in time for Christmas 2013. However, lurking in the background are a newer breed of home games devices: while they do not pose a threat to the core audience for the Xbox One or PS4 (or to Nintendo’s Wii U), they are undoubtedly offer the potential to disrupt the market in 2014 by siphoning off high and low end users.

The Android-based Ouya microconsole was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which went on to raise 904% of the original goal. At $99, the Ouya console is priced at the lower end of the market, with casual game users as its target market. Meanwhile, Xi3’s ‘Piston’ Mini PC is aimed at the hardcore gamer – priced at $1,000, the device ships with Windows and is powered by a quadcore processor.

9. The Cloud becomes personal

While consumers are increasingly migrating their content from the device into cloud storage, concerns over the relative security of several popular solutions have in turn prompted increased activity within the personal cloud space.

An increasing array of players now offer network attached storage (NAS) drives which plug into the home network via Gigabit Ethernet and which are available for a one-off payment, enabling consumers to store content on the NAS rather than having to access it via a third party connection. Similarly, Microsoft has integrated support for its cloud storage platform, SkyDrive, in the new Xbox One, with the SkyDrive app creating a personal cloud for video and photos.

Juniper envisages that the trend towards the NAS will accelerate throughout 2014, with the retail cost of lower capacity drives continuing to fall and stimulating further demand.

10. 3D printer shipments to surge

While shipments of 3D printers are still at relatively low levels, Juniper expects them to increase significantly over the next 12 months as interest in their ever widening scope of applicability surges, in large part driven by a wave of leading vendors into the space.

Hewlett-Packard has promised a range of consumer and industrial-grade 3D printers in 2014, while Samsung and Microsoft are mooted to be mulling over 3D printing’s potential.

From’s GE investment in 3D printing to create fuel nozzles for jet engines, to Motorola’s use of smartphone parts using 3D printing technology, industrial activity has scaled up significantly in recent months; with the retail price of desktop models currently at just above $2,000 and falling steadily, expect retail sales to surge in the second half of the year.

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