Technology predictions for the coming year

Last month I went to the CANARIE conference in Toronto to hear Duncan Stewart, director of technology at Deloitte Canada, present his predictions on technology in 2014.  The presentation was based on the 2014 Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Report. This report, which has been published annually since 2001, is available here.

I was intrigued enough by Duncan’s presentation to read the report itself, which is more than 60 pages long and quite detailed. I recommend it to everyone, although perhaps waiting for the 2015 version would make sense at this stage.

Here are some of the thoughts I took away from the presentation and the report. Please check the report to ensure you get correct numbers and interpretations – not everything in the report is covered here.

Decade of the Device

There are five major classes of device on the radar screen: TV sets, the Personal Computer, smartphones, tablets, and video consoles.  Together they represent over $750B (all in US dollars) in global sales, which is almost double the sales in 2007.

We have been going through the “decade of the device” – everything from the first iPod to the latest game console and smart-watch. But the hyper-growth is slowing down as people decide they don’t need the latest and greatest devices (at least right away).

In effect, the digital upgrade of the living room is nearing completion.  This may be one reason the US market is becoming a smaller percentage of the total device sales.  Also, when people spend less on hardware, they have more money left for software, services and content.

On a personal note, there is lots of room for integrating the devices in my living room (or more accurately, in my home, since they aren’t all in the living room). But I’m not sure I’m really missing out by not linking my TV to my watch.  This reminds me of the “personal cloud” and brings forward the notions of a “personal virtual space” and a “personal information ecosystem.”

For a family, multiple interacting (competing?) personal spaces/clouds would be the destiny.

The drivers for this are, as usual, processor speed, connectivity, and storage. I would be tempted to add software to this list.

Personal Computers

PC sales are down somewhat but, despite some people’s claims, the PC remains an important device. For example, two out of every three web page views are from a PC.  Another fact is that video is downloaded mainly to PCs, not to tablets.

However, kids don’t use PCs, they use tablets which may be an indicator for the future.

The overall prediction is that PC use will fall moderately but won’t fall off a cliff.

My perspective: Why not a combined tablet + PC, much like a laptop with a docking station?  Is there any reason an iPad Mini 3 or IPhone 6 Plus cannot be seamlessly integrated with an iMac and its Retina 5K display with both using iCloud as the glue?

4K Televisions

This refers to ultra-high definition television, and comes in various formats. Content is not readily available yet, except via YouTube and Netflix.

Prices are falling and should be down to a 25-30% premium over regular TVs by the end of 2014.

This format will not reach the mass market in 2014. The recent Apple announcement of a 5K display for its iMac should bode well for 2015, however.

For myself, it will take a lot of new features to make me buy a new physical TV every couple of years (or even every decade!). More than gesture control, more than Internet access.  I still think of the TV as a single purpose device. Expanding the PVR box into a “personal media cloud” for all devices might be useful and multi-device access to TV content is desirable (especially on a 5K display).


English Canadians are moving from traditional TV to Netflix. The demographic for traditional TV is older males with less education, perhaps because there is no sports on Netflix.

Netflix is the number one application consuming Internet bandwidth.

Today, two-thirds of all traffic is realtime entertainment. This will grow to 90% by 2020, which is not good for other classes of traffic.

Head-mounted Wearables

There has been a lot of talk about wearable devices, especially Google Glass. They are currently pretty low resolution – for example, a hockey puck would be less than one pixel, which makes watching hockey difficult!

The prediction is that only 10-20 per cent of people will use head-mounted devices, which means it will not be a mass consumer device. Within ten years, however, we will see smart-glasses for smart-workers (for doing an operation or for arresting someone – anywhere where continuous recording is needed).

Only early adopters will have smart wearables in 2014.

Personally, I would like to be sure it doesn’t affect my eyesight before I would even try one of these!

Smart Watches

It seems that the need for a wrist watch is declining, especially among young people. Why wear a watch when your phone tells you the time?

The prediction is that only 5-10 per cent of people will wear a smart-watch.

Apparently integrating telephony into the smart-watch is difficult, and entering data is also tricky, so there is always a need to have a companion smartphone.

One of the questions I have is whether there is anything disruptive about a smart-watch. Is there a business model that would be changed through the mass deployment of smart-watches?

My opinion: There are still a lot of baby boomers who feel naked when they forget to put on their watch.  If the smart-watch can be combined with fitness and health functions, and with alerting functions (I can never hear my phone in my pocket), then why not wear one?

Fitness Trackers/Smart Fitness Band

Most people stop wearing them after a few months.

The term “quantified self” comes up here – measuring everything about yourself in realtime, monitoring against goals or norms (are you having a heart attack at the moment?), and keeping track of everything.

To me, one goal is to avoid duplication. I don’t want to carry multiple devices that all do the same thing.  So build the fitness band into my smartphone, please.

Larger Phones

Do you want to buy a phone that is over 5.1 inches (Phablets are 5.0 to 6.9”)? As of December 2013, Canadians did not want big phones.

They will sell, however, as a bigger phone means more data. Phablets will become the third largest market in history.

Smartphone sales are expected to grow by 12% in 2014. Phablets in 2014 were ¼ of smartphone sales.  But a large smartphone is not for everyone.

I believe most people dislike the idea of replacing any of their devices every 2 years or so, but the new capabilities are proving to be compelling. I also think most people are a little afraid some virus will come along and make their devices useless!

Multiple Connected Devices

People in many places will have more than one connected device.

That, plus the Internet of Things, would suggest rapid growth in the Internet over the next decade. Perhaps it’s time to fix all of its issues before the implosion occurs.

Other Interesting Topics

  • In the Netherlands, the idea of “user pay” is being applied to fiber optic deployment – if you find 10 people on a given street that want it, then it will be laid. Apparently, it is poorer people who are doing this, not rich people.
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) could lead to a major change in the education business model by 2020.
  • There will be 100M eVisits, which are a subset of the telehealth market, in 2014.
  • Internet of Things – This is about things and enterprises, not people. Lots of people-to-thing connections are pointless (e.g., remote control of a slow cooker or a washing machine – what is the value?).
  • Future of Bitcoin – adoption and usage is very low today, even though the media loves it. For example, in the UK, the total bank transaction rate is 1 billion/day whereas Bitcoin drives about 300 transactions/day.


I have only mentioned a few of the topics in the Deloitte report. The asides are my own, and aren’t based on anywhere near the level of analysis done by Deloitte.

The whole idea of smart-things is gaining traction and interest – the smart living room, the smart house, the smart car, smart clothes, the personal cloud, and so on.

It will be interesting to read the 2015 report and to witness the transformations over the next decade.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Don Sheppard
Don Sheppard
I'm a IT management consultant. I began my career in railways and banks after which I took up the consulting challenge! I try to keep in touch with a lot of different I&IT topics but I'm usually working in areas that involve service management and procurement. I'm into developing ISO standards, current in the area of cloud computing (ISO JTC1/SC38). I'm also starting to get more interested in networking history, so I guess I'm starting to look backwards as well as forwards! My homepage is but I am found more here.

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