Friday, March 1, 2013

Birnbach Communications' Top Predictions for 2013, Part II

We expect the media to report on several tech battles in 2013 including:

·         The Battle for the Living Room.  Who can supply the highest of the ultra high definition TVs? At CES, there was a battle between OLED (organic light-emitting diode) versus 4K high definition known as UHD (ultra high def), which offers four times the pixels of 1080p high-def displays. However, a similar problem that plagues 3D TV – lack of 3D content – will likely plague UHD because UHD TVs work best with video shot in UHD. Additionally, UHD requires a lot of memory: UHD movies need 10 terabytes, which is about 2,500 times more than a standard HD movie and comes at a time when most Americans don’t even have one terabyte to hold all their movies and music. Another problem: The huge cost of UHD sets: an 84-inch set currently costs $25,000 – raising two important questions: “For the same money, do you buy a car instead?” And “Who has the wall space to display a seven-foot screen?
·         Battle between different streaming services and cable’s embrace of streaming.  Until last year, this was basically a battle between Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime. This year, the market got more crowded, with the entry of Redbox along with cable and satellite companies now offering streaming video.  Don’t expect prices to drop from around $5 to $10 per month.  (If people are subscribing to streamed video services to watch on their tablets, what are the implications for TV manufacturers getting ready to sell $25,000 TVs?) Because Netflix is the only public company offering streamed video, we expect that its earnings will get a lot of coverage because it will be seen as a belle weather for the entire industry.
·         The battle among huge companies. Apple v. Google v. Samsung and Microsoft. Oracle v. Everyone Else. The media have a boxing ring mentality: They love to report on the battle between two competing companies. So we expect continued high level of coverage of Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft in their battle for supremacy. Of course, those four hypercompetitive companies are often battling other companies as well. (Yes, we've included this prediction in prior years – we feel that the media continues to be fascinated by this story and see no end in sight.) Interestingly, over the past year, Samsung has leveraged Android to become a major global player in the smartphone and tablet sectors, which is having an impact on both Apple (as an iPhone and iPad competitor) and on Google (since Samsung, as the de facto Android leader, could ask to renegotiate its agreements with Google, cutting Google’s margins).
·         The Battle for Map Supremacy: Apple v. Google v. Nokia v. Microsoft v., Amazon. Apparently there’s big business in offering maps – even though most map providers don’t charge users for directions. Instead, they make money through mobile ads and services. We think that this should get more attention in 2013 as a result of Apple’s initial map app fail. Mapping is important because in order to be successful at enabling (and charging for) hyperlocal marketing, those companies need to be proficient at mapping.
Let us know if you agree or disagree. Check back tomorrow for additional predictions or click here for Part I predictions.

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