‘Tis the season for predictions for 2012, and if one from a key industry pundit comes true, it may have a bearing on the availability of test apps for engineers. The prediction comes from Dylan Tweney, executive editor of VenturBeat, who prognosticates about potential top technology products for 2012 in an interview with Jon Erlichman on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.”
The relevant prediction from an engineering app perspective is number 2 on Tweney’s list—and it centers on Nokia’s new phones, the Lumia 800 and 710. Nokia and Microsoft got together in 2011, he reminds us, and he calls the combination “one of the most significant partnerships to happen in the mobile world in a long time.” Microsoft, he said, has “this great new reinvented Windows Phone operating system,” which could be a good fit for Nokia, which has been struggling for years in the smart-phone space.
Erlichman points out that the two companies haven’t been thought of as game-changers in the smart-phone space recently. That certainly seems to be the case to me—neither company gets much buzz anymore, and in my research for the January print article on engineering apps, no one I interviewed cited Windows Phone as a key platform for app development.
Tweney acknowledges that individually the companies were losing the smart-phone game but suggests they have considerable potential in combination. “Nokia makes and has always made great hardware,” he says, “and Microsoft now has a decent operating system for that hardware” with the Lumia 800 and 710—the first two products that are the fruit of that combination that will come to the US in 2012. “They look pretty darn good,” he says. He calls them consumer phones, with the 800 meant to be a competitive high-end smart phone and 710 a phone you pick up for $100 with a contract. There is potential in both markets, he says, adding that what will make or break the partnership is whether the companies can get carriers to go along.
As for the key differentiators, Tweney says the Lumina devices are not iPhones or Android phones, and the Windows OS “actually works and is elegant and well thought out.” A big problem with Android, he says, is that companies have been very successful in selling a lot of Android phones from a lot of different makers, but in 2012 inconsistencies with the implementation of Android will begin to bother people.
That mirrors what I have heard from Android app developers—Android presents what can be a wild-west environment. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that developers creating data-acquisition apps, for example, will move to Windows Phone unless the Nokia and Microsoft combination gains some traction. We may have to wait for 2013 to see what happens.
Another prediction related to mobile devices is number 4 on Tweney’s list: that the Amazon Kindle Fire 2 will be hot. He says Amazon got a lot wrong with the original Kindle Fire, but the company has been consistently good with version 2 of its offerings. He notes that Amazon tends to sell a device at a small loss to get it (“a little shopping cart”) into your living room. Apple and Amazon support the complete shopping ecosystem, he says, but could face competition from Windows and Android tablets if manufacturers of those devices can also master the complete ecosystem.
For the record, Tweney’s other top 5 best-gadget predictions for 2012 include the Lytro focus-after-the-shot camera, at number 5. The $400 price tag may discourage customers who just continue snapping photos on their iPhones, but Tweney expects the underlying technology if not the initial Lytro device to be potentially revolutionary.
At number 3 he puts the Tesla Model S sedan. He says the company’s development of the family-friendly sedan with relatively long range represents a more intelligent approach than the development of a supersized golf cart.
And at position number 1, he puts the anticipated Apple TV, which in his view would seamlessly integrate Apple’s Apple TV offerings with a consumer’s regular cable subscription.