James Sanders takes a look at the realm of Asian technology and the variety of shiny new products to hit stores over the next year.
Just as 2013 has been a whirlwind year for Asian technology, 2014 promises a great deal of innovation for the IT industry in Asia and across the world. With the development of new products, acquisitions of well-known brands by Asian corporations, and products that are the fruit of such acquisitions, 2014 looks to be a landmark year for technology.
More wearable technology
2013 saw the release of the Sony SmartWatch 2 and Samsung Galaxy Gear — and both of these products exist seemingly only because of rumors that Apple is developing their own wearable computing device. As with any reactionary product, the reviews are negative and the return rates are through the roof. It appears that the new hot wearable computing product is the Smarty Ring, which is a ring that displays notifications on your finger. The Smarty Ring is developed by independent designers in India.
Someone buys BlackBerry
The writing on the wall at the company formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM) has been there for some time, and to an extent, it’s interesting that such a transaction hasn’t happened already. Most analysts favor Lenovo as a potential suitor, and Huawei has also been mentioned, but both face regulatory pushback on fears of espionage. However, a more appropriate suitor with a proven security track record is Panasonic, a favored vendor for high-security organizations that use their line of Toughbook laptops. Accordingly, a purchase by Panasonic wouldn’t be met with as much resistance as a purchase by firms such as Lenovo or Huawei.
LG's webOS-powered Smart TV debuts
This particular prediction is equal parts “actual plausible event” and “webOS fan fantasy,” but according to ZDNet Korea, the Korean firm is preparing to introduce their webOS-powered Smart TV at CES 2014. LG acquired webOS and the cross-platform framework “Enyo” from HP in early 2013. HP acquired the technology from Palm after they purchased the mobile computing firm in 2010.
After the abrupt discontinuation of the HP TouchPad, 49 days after it was released, the fate of webOS, which was considered a “homerun” at the unveiling at CES 2009, looked rather bleak. Speaking personally, as someone who purchased a TouchPad before the fire sale (and who still uses a Palm Pre 2 as a daily driver), the prospect of new life being breathed in to webOS — even as the platform for a Smart TV — is exciting.
Softbank acquires T-Mobile USA
Softbank closed 2013 with the acquisition of Sprint (and by extension, Clearwire), and the Japanese telecommunications firm appears to be eyeing T-Mobile USA. In 2011, T-Mobile USA was the target of an attempted takeover by AT&T, but that was scuttled by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission. Deutsche Telekom is eager to sell, as T-Mobile USA is hemorrhaging money for the German firm.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son is perhaps the most qualified person to make the two carriers into a viable operation, as Softbank’s domestic wireless operations were purchased from Vodafone’s flailing Japanese division in 2006. Since the purchase, Softbank Mobile’s operating profit has more than doubled, due in part to Softbank locking up the iPhone as an exclusive handset in Japan until the release of the 4S.
Large, high-DPI tablets
Rumors abound about the potential for an “iPad Pro” — a device somewhere between 12.1 and 12.9 inches. When Apple does something, other companies are sure to follow. Larger Android tablets at 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 to compete with a super-sized iPad would doubtlessly be rushed out the door. At present, the only device somewhat near this form factor is the ARCHOS FamilyPad 2, with a paltry 1280x800 13.3” display. In addition, some of the more unique form factors of Android tablets from ASUS are expected to make their way to the United States in 2014.
While these predictions for 2014 are far from exhaustive, the potential that the next year holds is vast. If you believe these predictions are spot on, off the mark, or if you want to share your own predictions for technology in Asia in 2014, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.