Supply chain
10 technology predictions for 2014
Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES, Taipei
Tuesday 31 December 2013

The year 2013 saw the rise of Ultra HD TVs, larger-size smartphones, increased competition from mobile device makers in China, as well as a decline in the monitor market in addition to many other changes. Looking ahead at 2014, here are some predictions in the technology segment for 2014 that are currently being talked about in the market.

1. Apple will release new iPhones sized 4.7- and 5.5-inch to expand its smartphone market. The phones will also have increased resolution that is expected to surpass 400ppi and probably even above 440ppi. However, because Apple doesn't play the low-priced smartphone card, it will lose out on sales in emerging markets, thus making Samsung the number one smartphone vendor in terms of sales in 2014.

2. Apple will release an Ultra HD TV rumored to be called iTV. Many people think Apple will only release Ultra HD compatible Apple TV but since consumers will still need an Ultra HD TV to view the content, there is no reason why Apple should not try to bank on the opportunity. Apple is not likely to lose out from other competitors even if its iTV is priced high, as other competitors will also have high pricing for their units. Apple's advantage though will be in its ecosystem, most notably its iTunes services and the way people will be able to view content on their iTV units, so this could drive high sales of the device as well as push up sales in its software business. Apple therefore would be foolish not to cash in on this opportunity, which would also help bring back its edge in innovation, according to many market observers.

3. Cloud gaming will increasingly become more popular, with more makers continuing to develop the niche rather than developing consoles. This could lead to a new breakthrough in terms of who produces games and what kinds of platforms are available for gaming, as newcomers in the industry won't have to face hardware competition from Microsoft and Sony etc.

4. Detachable notebooks will become more popular. People are realizing that their tablets are not powerful enough to perform functions otherwise done on a PC but yet the consumers will still want the convenience of a portable tablet. Solution? More two-in-one products. Such products already exist but have yet to become popular, as some companies fear that consumers would not like them. However, if companies such as Apple were to develop a detachable notebook, with sizes ranging in the 11- to 13-inch segment, and have both notebook and tablet software functions (in this case Apple would have OS X and iOS available) then that could be a breakthrough in the industry.

5. Touch notebooks will continue to stagger. Makers of the devices try to get the best of both tablet and PC functions, but without that detachable screen and more advanced software it will be difficult for the market to expand after a disappointing year in 2013.

6. Pricing for hardware such as tablets and smartphones will continue to drop as price competition continues. Therefore, vendors will need to develop more complete ecosystems and more value-added features to entice consumers and maintain profits. More integrated supply chains to keep costs down, will also be necessary, especially amid low-cost competition in China.

7. Smart watches will appear more in the market but will see limited growth. Why? Because there is not enough differentiation and added value the devices provide, making them very niche based such as for exercising etc.

8. Flexible displays will appear, but won't be that awesome - at least not yet. Korea panel makers are leading the way with this technology and will continue to feature it in upcoming smartphones to be released in 2014. However, because the development of components needed to make the panels bend in half and every which way is coming along slow, consumers will not only have limited access to the technology but will only be able to use the technology in limited ways. However, the start of this technology is based off the idea that one day devices such as tablets will be paper thin and be able to roll like paper so its pretty exciting nevertheless.

9. OLED TVs will drop about 10-20% in pricing but will still be priced too high due to production issues, making them hard to compete against 4K TVs.

10. Taiwan component supply chains will suffer from increased competition (i.e. lower costs) from China makers but will not have the technological advantages Korea makers possess, particularly in the panel and panel components segments.

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