Pricey watches and cheap phones: tech predictions for 2015

And prepare for a shakeup in enterprise IT as Amazon Web Services splashes down in Canada

 
Apple Watch
(Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty)

Technology analysis firm IDC has released its predictions list for 2015, and they’re good ones. I like IDC’s predictions because, unlike those from many other analysts, they don’t hang on broad vagaries like, “in the coming year, people will use more technology.” I don’t agree with all the predictions, but IDC gets points for specificity.

For example: IDC believes the Apple Watch, expected to be released in early 2015, will ignite a wearable boom in Canada. That will lead to a 70% increase in shipments to 1.2 million units in the category, year over year, in 2015.

I’m not so sure. While Apple has been on fire for most of the past decade, there still isn’t much evidence that the general population really wants a smart watch, or that such devices really serve any purpose.

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That’s very different from iPhones and iPads, which had much clearer prospects before their respective launches. A slick way to use the internet wherever you are in the palm of your hand? That’s an obvious hit. A better way to surf the web, look at photos and send emails while lying on the couch, rather than pulling out your laptop? Again, that’s an easy-to-predict slam dunk.

However, an expensive thing on your wrist that you have to repeatedly charge just so you don’t have to pull out your phone? That’s a much tougher sell.

Some of IDC’s other predictions look more solid.

Over-the-top internet-based video—Netflix, Google Play, iTunes and the lot—are expected to “blow past” cable and IPTV to 9.5 million clients in Canada.

While IDC doesn’t say so specifically, those numbers indicate that internet services that are still tied to traditional TV services—namely, Bell’s recently launched Crave TV and the Rogers-Shaw Shomi effort—are probably barking up the wrong tree in terms of how they’re being sold.

If I were to add my own prediction, I’m betting that poor subscriber numbers will result in at least one of those services—probably Shomi—becoming available to all Canadians in 2015 with no additional internet or TV subscription requirement.

IDC also sees major growth happening for Chinese phone makers such as Huawei, ZTE and even Lenovo’s new Motorola unit:

In the low-mid range mobile phone market, Chinese vendors will succeed with “good enough” devices at affordable price points, will steadily improve their market reach and distribution, and will steal share from bigger named brands that are refocusing on the higher end of the market.

That can only be good news for consumers as cheaper phones will mean lower subsidies through the big wireless carriers.

Once phones become cheap enough to buy without having to sign on to two-year contracts, consumers may finally start to see carriers compete against each other to keep them from defecting.

Also of note in the IDC report:

  • Security will become the number one IT priority as 4 million records of Canadians will be exposed in 2015.
  • More than 50 per cent of IT staff are uncertain about their future, with more than half their jobs expected to look very different by 2020.
  • Amazon Web Services will set up its first data centre in Canada in the next 12 to 18 months, which will shake up the IT and cloud services market.

More on the report can be found on IDC’s website.

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