It is the End of the Year….but this isn’t the Year in Review

So we have a few hours before we are in a new year and of course our eyes turned back to the year we are leaving behind. Now honestly I can’t remember most of 2014 (don’t ask) and this post is not going to recap the year in tech in the traditional sense. There will be some mild predictions.

Manly this is where I talk about a wide group that I haven’t had a chance to. So let’s begin.

Apple

I always mean to do a write up on the Cupertino hardware maker but the closest I do is the occasional post prior to a product announcement or WWDC. What can you say about Apple that hasn’t already been said. The company that once was near bankruptcy, and that Michael Dell joked about selling back shares, is now more valued than Exxon. It has a stock price in the triple digits and it remains the premier computing brand. There is no rule in business or technology for which Apple is not the exception. In 2014 the biggest news wasn’t hardware (we did get an Apple Watch but Gene Munster must continue to endure cause Apple the TV is MIA) but software. iOS hit version 8 and continued the transition to a new design started in iOS7. iOS was joined in its new flatter look by OSX which left the cats and went traveling through Yosemite. Apple tightened the connection between its devices with Continuity or users and a new programming language Swift for developers. Another change on the backend was the introduction of Metal a gaming API that let’s game developers write closer to the hardware. There were refreshes for the iPhone (big and bigger) and the iPad (so thin that had to laser a pencil). If there was one flicker in Apple’s RDF it maybe that at least on the reviewer end the company is predictable. The secrecy that once covered the California computer maker has two years in a row been cut to shreds by leakers. I think the momentum and rapid change that marked Apple’s past products has slowed and its closest competitor, Android, has caught up in phones. At this point I don’t see anything dislodging the tech company other than Apple or something way outside their control.

Google

It is said that sometimes in fighting to not be something you become the very thing you are against. This year has seen Google in many ways become the new Microsoft. Its mobile operating system Android is the major software platform. There are only two companies that don’t use it, Apple and Microsoft, and the latter is constantly rumored to be trying to use it for apps. Almost every new phone or phone maker is trying to use some part of the OS to make a mark in the smartphone business. Google’s ChromeOS is finding a niche in education displacing the once ascendant iPad because of its keyboard. Google remains the preeminent option for search. And all this cumulatively makes it’s a plump target by regulators in the European Union. The EU is looking at the search giant in much the same way the US Government looked at Microsoft; a monopolistic entity stifling competition. Google continues to be passive aggressive with Microsoft. There is a YouTube app on the Xbox One but not on Windows and Windows Phone. And the Mountain View company continues to have difficulty in acting its age and not acting like it’s still a startup premi.

Samsung

In my vicinity there are three Best Buy Samsung Experience Centers. They are well lit spots in which Galaxies, Notes, and Tabs are on view with accessories. Once upon a time there was a space where they had their PC offerings but that’s gone. The Centers are nice but they are also empty and maybe it is an apt metaphor for where the king of Android finds itself. On one end the Korean giant is still the biggest purveyor of Android phones and tablets but it is also seeing that lead eroded by an army of Chinese vendors like Xiaomi who have come in and supplanting them. Sales have been down and the company had to close its high end store in London and stopped selling PCs and Chromebooks in Europe. But at least there was no faux leather devices.

Amazon

I wish I was as enamored with Jeff Bezos and his company as everyone else in the world seems to be. That I lived and breathed Amazon Prime. I mean to me Amazon is Walmart dipped in the high gloss of Seattle. Amazon this year dove straight into hardware of various kinds from stereo’s to a phone. They also faced a number of issues at home and abroad. In the US Amazon is pushing on drones. In Europe on Unions and books. They went to war with Hatchett publishing over pricing and may ace another storm with indie writers cause of their subscription book service. They made a phone, but it didn’t set the world on fire (it just made people realize how low Amazon would go to make us buy something on Amazon).

Facebook

I use Facebook somewhat because of family. The company for me has been quiet. No one has talked about its First initiative but those efforts have been refocused into a series of separate mobile apps that seem to have more traction. Facebook and it’s associate companies, Snapchat and Instagram, continue their quiet dominance on half of social media. Carry On

Twitter

You know for a service that has easy access to people are thinking about in real time on almost a mass cell level they don’t know what to do with it. Like many a company they want to be a platform; of what is anybody’s guess.

HTC

I think there was a plan. They did a Windows Phone variant of the M8 and then a cheaper Android version of the M8. Then they made a video camera slash periscope.

Microsoft

Change, Change, Change. Nadella faced Karma. The Pro 3 proves the rule of 3. The Nokia deal went through. Windows 10. People are now making this is Sparta jokes about a browser.

Nokia

There done with phones (for now) but are going to do a tablet (well Foxconn is doing the tablet and selling it, but Espoo did the launcher and made it look like a European iPad Mini). The deal with Microsoft went through which made them look better on paper since the weight was lost. Nokia fans now sit in front of Espoo waiting on a Nokia resurrection with Android to prove it was Elop’s and Microsoft’s fault. As a Windows guy I’m kind of glad to see them go if only cause the mix of fans was toxic.

And that is that. I know there are things missing and things let unsaid. What’s not unsaid is Happy New Year and may 2015 be ever in your favor.

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