As we near the end of 2011, and speed towards 2012, it's time for introspection, calculation and some good old fashioned guesswork. We asked various professionals from various companies across various categories of the tech industry what the highlights of 2011 were and what they are predicting for 2012. Take a look.
2011 has been called many things. The year of the iPad. The year of cloud computing. The year of Android. But stepping out of the industry analysts shoes, we also have to take a look at what the year meant to the people who are the tech industry. Every company has their proud product of 2011 as well as a general outlook on the year. Let’s take a look.
The Year of Windows Phone
The Windows and Nokia offspring: the Lumia
While Apple and Android battled it out and Symbian slowly slipped away, Microsoft snuck in a game changer of a mobile OS, this year. More importantly, the Nokia and Microsoft partnership proved somewhat successfully for both companies who have been trying to stay healthy in the mobile space. Vishal Gondal, CEO of India Games says, “The Nokia Lumia is the closest anyone has come to being an iPhone competitor. I urge people to go to a Nokia store and try the device”. Microsoft, obviously proud of their baby has said that the platform is poised for success. Chakrapani GK, Head of the Consumer Channels Group, Microsoft Corp India has said, “By 2015, leading analysts, IDC and Gartner have forecasted Windows Phone to be among the Top 3 mobile platforms globally.”
The Year of the Tablet
Even though the original iPad was launched in 2010, the 2011 saw the effect the iPad 2 had on the tech industry. Most notably the gaming industry. Gondal of IndiaGames says, “The launch of the iPad 2 was very exciting. The console is a dying platform, while gaming on the iPad gets more sophisticated”.
The iPad changed things up this year
But beyond the iPad, which of course, generated the tablet space for tech companies, 2011 is the year of the tablet for the sheer number of tablets that were released. Sunil Lalvani, Director of Enterprise Sales for Research in Motion in India, says, “While the tablet segment in India is in its nascent stage, its utility and popularity will only increase.” RIM’s contribution to the tablet space was the BlackBerry PlayBook. Lalvani adds, “The BlackBerry PlayBook powered by QNX is a multitasking powerhouse that has not only great multimedia functions but also rides on a secure platform that supports enterprise needs as well.”
The BlackBerry PlayBook was RIM's pride
India’s own venture to the international tablet space is Notion Ink with their Adam. The Adam has been available in the country for 6 months and according to Rohan Shravan, CEO of Notion Ink, the second half of this year has been focused on improving the hardware of their product. “In the second half we have been designing not just the looks, but the hardware itself. It might not be of value to the normal eye, but for us its a great deal. Going through every resistor, antennae design, chip selection based on software requirement, layouts based on EMC, and most importantly reconfiguring everything from scratch again, if power expectation doesn't match.”
India's venture into the international tablet space: the Adam
The Year of the Digital
We're not talking about zeros and ones, but really, the Internet of everything. Mobile apps were launched, mobile apps that were launched in 2010 gained traction in 2011, mobile gaming and social networking became actual pastimes. App developer Banerjee says, “We have seen some big games (Infinity Blade), lifestyle (Cards), News (Flipboard). Almost every category has something new and brilliant stuff”.
The big Indian game was Ra One, the follow-up to the Shah Rukh Khan blockbuster, developed by UTV IndiaGames. Gondal says, “Ra One had 2.5 million downloads from the Nokia Store and overall, 8 million downloads from other stores. Millions and millions of people are adopting the mobile and social networking.”
Online shopping and e-commerce also became more mainstream in the country. Amit Somani, Chief Products Officer of MakeMyTrip.com says, “As more and more travelers in India shift to the online medium for planning and booking their travel, 2011 has been a great year for online travel agencies like MakeMyTrip.com.” With the rise in mobile app usage, MakeMyTrip also launched their own mobile app this year. Somani says, “We’re seeing rapidly rising searches on the mobile platform. Connection speeds on the mobile and super complex payment processes mandated by the financial services companies and RBI are key challenges for people to do transactions on the mobile. Even though bookings are slow to take off, the search and browsing behavior on the mobile and tablets is quite heartening to see.”
While people may not be booking plane tickets online, mobile payment has begun peeping its head into the country. Developer, Banerjee says, “In terms of mobile payments, I see a lot of companies investing in this sector, both in India and abroad. Look at Starbucks whose mobile app had processed 26 million transactions since its January 2011 launch. Plus apps like Google Wallet, Square, PayMate (India) reinstated the fact this year that Mobile Payment Method is no longer a myth.”
The cloud is high on the list
Finally, since we’re still on the Internet, 2011 was the year of the cloud, more specifically iCloud. When asked which was the biggest innovation of 2011, Somani of MakeMyTrip answered, “iCloud.” Shishir Singh, Director of Product Marketing, Consumer S&B of Dell, India said, “Cloud computing is at a tipping point and we see it as a big opportunity for growing businesses to keep up with their growth without having to invest in and manage their infrastructure.”
Bonus: Individual pride
Each tech professional that we talked to had a product or two of theirs that they were particularly proud of, this year. For Asus, according to Alex Huang, Country Head of Asus India, it was the Asus Zenbook and the Asus Transformer. For Microsoft, of course, it was Windows Phone 7 and for Research in Motion it was the BlackBerry PlayBook as well as their app store. According to Sunil Lalvani of Dell, “With over 5000 apps and 5 million downloads a day, the BlackBerry App World has become the second most profitable app store globally”.
For Sony, it was their motion controlled gaming system, particularly the PlayStation Move. Atindriya Bose, Country Manager, Sony India said, “Year 2011 has been used to strongly establish & win the Motion sensing gaming space with the PS3 Move platform. This has been a great success internationally as well as in India. We expect the same success to drive the PS3 platform deeper into the Indian family audience who now perceive the PS3 as a complete solution beyond gaming that allows him BluRay functionality, 3D experience and media manager utility with the PS3 hard disc space.”
The PS3 Move was Sony's pride
For some local favourites, Notion Ink’s pride was their Adam tablet of course, and for IndiaGames, it was Ra One.
Tech industry's predictions for 2012
Not many may have envisaged that tablets would be reigning the tech world, giving laptops and smartphones a stiff competition. And we really don’t know what this year would unfold for the tech realm. While many are busy dishing out that perfect resolution for the year 2012, we asked the industry experts what they predict for the coming year in the technology segment. Here’s what they said.
A slew of quad-core phones
With the leading operating systems ready to support a quad-core processor, we believe that the smartphone market may see a rise in the number of quad-core phones, rather most high-end portable devices (read smartphones and tablets) may come equipped with a quad-core processor. Qualcomm, Nvidia and Samsung have already set the wheel in motion, while we saw a few phones running on quad-core processors this year, too. Industry experts believe it isn’t just about dual core, but a complete package of high-end technologies which will drive the smartphone market. As the phone platform gets powerful, we can expect advanced computing mobile phones. Faisal Siddiqui, Country Manager, HTC believes that Quad Core will bring handsets to a level of performance equivalent to that of a desktop computer. He predicts powerful gadgets like mobile phones with quad-core processors, enhanced camera and multimedia experiences that rivals cameras and mp3 players will be the limelight of 2012.
When asked Sunil Lalvani, Director, Enterprise sales, RIM, he expressed, “While the industry is seeing a rapid adoption of higher processing power, quad core processor could be a widely used in smartphones. We at Research In Motion (RIM) believe that a compelling user experience is driven by hardware, software and service integration.” Rohan Shravan, CEO, Notion Ink predicts Quad Core Marketing Push for the next year.
Everyone wants a scoop of the cloud (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Cloud Computing to get a boost
While cloud computing was received really well by the industry in 2011, it is expected to grow further next year. Industry experts believe a lot to be happening in this space. Alex Huang, Country Head, Asus said that the cloud computing segment will continue to grow. Shishir Singh, Director – Product Marketing, Dell India also states that Cloud computing is at a tipping point and they view it as a big opportunity for growing businesses to keep up with the growth without having to invest in and manage their infrastructure.
Enterprises are expected to rely on cloud computing on a greater extent, while other sectors are also likely to adopt it at a swifter pace. “As businesses are globalizing, enterprise mobility solutions are of paramount importance for competitive differentiation and profitability. Enterprises and SMBs will increasingly rely on mobility solutions in areas such as CRM, project planning, inventory and sales management etc. BFSI, ITeS, manufacturing, retail, logistics and healthcare are some of the sectors that have been adopting such technologies,” says Sunil Lalvani.
Sleeker form factor and demand for multiple size devices
Seemingly, the next year, devices will strictly follow the ‘thin is in’ trend, so users can look forward to slimmer devices. With devices coming in multiple sizes, each could apparently get a fair share of market space. Chakrapani GK, Head, Consumer Channels Group, Microsoft Corporation expects a multitude of device form factors in the market, especially with the upcoming beta of Windows 8. Alex Huang said, “Consumers/enterprise will look at gadgets with portability. In addition, users will look at sleek designs like the one from our stable—Zenbook.”
Sizes for all (Image Credit: Getty Images)
The year will bring in more choices in the device size as well as the way we want to interact with others. Amit Somani, Chief Products Officer, MakeMyTrip.com predicts, “Many customers will have 2-5 different ways of connecting to the world including phones, tablets, PCs, gaming consoles and Television.” Shishir Singh feels its one of the key trends to watch out for as laptops are getting slimmer, and at the same time are packed with performance. We believe that mobility will dictate the form factor of computing devices in the years to follow. We expect to see a proliferation of devices in different screen sizes to meet different needs as accessibility of information-on-the-go, becomes inevitable.
Faisal Siddiqui feels there is lot expected in the sphere of innovation in static computing space with more powerful and productivity enhancing tablets. The technology further would become user friendly and the initiative has been taken by HTC with launch of HTC Explorer in regional languages.
Looking forward to more from Windows Phone
There are already speculations about Windows operating system to be widely accepted, getting at par with the current leading players in the mobile arena. Siddharth Banerjee, an app developer says, “In terms of consumer shift, yes we will see a shift from Android and BB users to WP7. You must be thinking that why I’m not talking about the shift from iOS to WP7? India is a cash economy. If you have already bought an Rs. 32,000 iPhone this year, I don't think you will spend another Rs 30,000 in six months.”
People want easy and seamless ways to interact with their devices, this puts into picture the Natural User Interface (NUI). Chakrapani GK said, “In 2012, voice and gesture based interactions will proliferate across devices and form factors resulting in technologies becoming more intuitive and inclusive. This will also be driven through the increasing uptake for devices such as Microsoft Kinect and Windows Phone showing innovations in the area of NUI.”
Rise in mobile gaming/apps
The mobile gaming has been viewed as a promising area for next year. The gaming as a whole will be explored with newer and next generation tech innovations. Vishal Gondal, CEO, Indiagames says, “Gaming industry next year will continue to be dominated by mobile and tablets. More games that are freemium. Expecting a lot more cloud features on games. Excited about iCloud and Microsoft Xbox gaming.” Chakrapani GK believes that next year the Indian mobile market will witness a turning point in development of local mobile apps from India and real, scalable application innovation coming from Indian developers. The Windows Phone environment will see some compelling and marquee apps.
Go mobile..in 2012 (Image Credit: Getty Images)
More powerful handheld devices and their deeper penetration in our lives could pave way to people spending more time exploring them. Sunil Lalvani says that with more processing powers and rich multimedia support, mobile gaming is increasingly becoming popular. Motion sensor gaming is another technology that is going to grow in the times to come. Shishir Singh feels that gaming already is a lucrative area in the mobile app development domain, and there's a trend towards building apps that use location-based services and also provide content sharing over social networking.
Amit Somani reveals that they are witnessing rapidly rising searches on the mobile platform for MakeMyTrip, which also has an app on the BlackBerry platform. “Connection speeds on the mobile and super complex payment processes mandated by the financial services companies and RBI are key challenges for people to do transactions on the mobile,” he adds.
Augmented reality and social networks
Developers have been embracing newer technologies like augmented reality and location-based searches while social networks have been increasingly being used on-the-go. Amit Somani predicts that next year feature phones will get decent browser support and applications like Facebook and Twitter will extend their shelf life. Siddharth Banerjee says, “In 2012, I’m expecting to see a lot of apps using Augmented Reality (AR). It has already started and 2012 will see more of it. There’s a huge scope of using AR in the Retail and Tourism Industry.”
Augmented Reality and Social apps seem to be adding on to the list of phone makers. Sunil Lalvani says,” Some of the next generation BlackBerry smartphones powered by BlackBerry 7 OS are loaded with AR applications like Wikitude to help users find location based information instantly.” Chakrapani disclosed that, “ Social continues to be a major trend and we will see seamless integration of multiple social networks across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others.“
Wider adoption of NFC
The NFC technology isn’t something new to the mobile industry. As it’s in a nascent stage, it’s difficult to comment easy and quick the adoption could be in India, as we’ve just started witnessing online payments on a larger scale. Could it be the next big thing? Sunil Lalvani feels that NFC technology has immense potential in enterprise and consumer space and will be increasingly used in various enterprise and consumer sectors. They can be used for easy payments, enable content sharing and social activities. While NFC is still at the nascent stage in India, this platform is set to define mobility in true sense.
NFC is predicted to make an entry into varying fields. Siddharth believes that NFC technology is another important trend we should see along with RFID Reader, especially in the medical field. Somani also predicts that Mobile wallets and peer to peer payments can catch fire globally.
More time over Internet (Iamge Credit: Getty Images)
Rise in Internet use
We seen a boost in the Internet usage in India and the way we’ve been consuming digital technology. There has been an increase in the number of people spending time on Internet, leading to wider access of digital data, be it music, videos, social networks or e-commerce. Amit Somani, Chief Products Officer, MakeMyTrip.com, predicts,” More new folks in India will have a “taste” of the internet in 2012 than all of the previous years combined. This will obviously be both through the mobile and desktop. Payments 3.0 companies or solutions emerge that solve for easy and reliable online payments for a mass audience. Mobile wallets and peer to peer payments catch fire globally.”
Higher Resolution screens
Rohan Shravan predicts that next year we’d see higher resolution (1920 x 1200) screen, which should be the norm by the third quarter. He also predicts Google fighting Siri, some traction for webOS, tons of OMAP products and highest possible definition Maps.
In the pipeline
As most of us continue to wait to welcome yet another tech-imbued year, its interesting to know what tech would help mould it. A few industry experts gave a sneak peek into what their companies has in store for the year 2012. Read on to know what they’ve said.
BlackBerry 10 and Porsche Design P’9981
Needless to say, smartphones and tablets running on the BlackBerry 10 are expected to come somewhere around next year. The OS is a mix of BlackBerry and QNX, to offer distinguishable BlackBerry products and services. Also, RIM’s entry into luxury handsets will be marked next year with the recently disclosed Porsche Design P’9981. Sunil Lalvani, Director, Enterprise sales, RIM revealed, “In 2012, you would see RIM launching the much talked about BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry 10 is the next generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. The latest launch of the Porsche Design P’9981 – consolidates our offerings in the luxury smartphone segment. Set to be launched in early 2012, it is going to be a unique smartphone that will deliver engineered luxury and performance.”
A statement in style
Sony PS Vita
A lot has been happening on the gaming front with the motion sensing technology adopted by key gaming players. Sony further goes on to redefine the handheld gaming experience. Talking about what’s on the plate for next year, Atindriya Bose, Country Manager- India, Sony Computer Entertainment revealed, “The biggest introduction in gaming hardware from Sony PlayStation will be the PS Vita that is scheduled to launch in India in the 1st quarter of calendar year 2012. With a touch screen, rear touchpad, dual joystick control, camera arrangement, the PS Vita will provide the truly immersive gaming experience. The same will be launched with a strong range of high quality games from both Sony and other Third Party publishers to make it a truly great purchase. PSVita will be coming in two varieties – Wifi & 3G and will provide a number of 3G functionalities to create a networked fun and play environment.”
Kinect and Xbox Gaming
Gaming is likely to see a boost in the next year. Microsoft has also geared up on offering Xbox and Kinect Games for gamers, children and families. Chakrapani says that next year the Kinect portfolio will expand to include core gaming experiences with upcoming titles like Mass Effect 3, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, Madden 2012, FIFA 2013 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Through “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” “Kinect Nat Geo TV” and “Project Columbia” (codename), Kinect for Xbox 360 will introduce “playful learning” experiences, creating new ways to learn through full-body, interactive fun.
The Adam has been available in India through Flipkart for the last six months, and the next version of the Adam is on its way next year. According to Rohan Shravan, CEO, Notion Ink, the company will offer the Adam 2 along with alternate distribution strategies, and very new modular software. As much as we would have liked it, Notion Ink doesn’t intend to step into the smartphone terrain yet.
Next Adam on the way
Alex Huang puts an end to rumors that Asus will be quitting the tablet market and also reveals that netbooks haven’t reached the dead end. He says that the netbook market will be stable. As for what’s in the pipeline, he says, “In 2012, we are aiming at becoming one of the top 5 players in the notebook space.”
Dell has dished out various products with its newer Vostros, XPSs, Inspirons and more. For next year, Shishir Singh, Director – Product Marketing. Dell says, “We will continue to target prosumers to enable them to pursue their passions through technology, thus enabling them to enjoy an “always connected” lifestyle. We don’t just create products because we can; they are designed with our customers in mind to create great experiences and enable them to manage their lives more efficiently. We believe that our customer services and solutions will be the key differentiator for Dell over the next year for both the home as well as the commercial segments.”
Windows 8 platform
Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform is all geared to add in some competition in the mobile terrain. Chakrapani GK, Head – Consumer Channels Group, Microsoft says, “The beta of the next major release of Windows, code-named “Windows 8” has been confirmed for late February. Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise – touch-first metro UI, new developer opportunities with Windows Store, new generation of hardware, just to name a few.”
Main Image Source: Getty Images
2011, 2012, adam 2, Alex Huang, Amit Somani, an app developer, Asus, BlackBerry, BlackBerry 10, CEO of India Games, Chakrapani GK, Chief Products Officer of MakeMyTrip.com, Country Head, Dell India, Director of Enterprise Sales for Research in Motion in India, Director â€“ Product Marketing, General, Head of the Consumer Channels Group, highlights 2011, industry experts speak, Kinect and Xbox Gaming, Microsoft Corp, mobile payments, Notebooks, Porsche Design Pâ€™9981, predictions for 2012, Shishir Singh, Siddharth Banerjee, Sony PSVita, Sunil Lalvani, Vishal Gondal, Windows 8 platform